NORMAN, Okla. -- No. 3 Stanford finished first at the NCAA Championships semifinal on Thursday, qualifying for Friday’s NCAA Championships final for the 10th consecutive season.
The Cardinal scored 435.850 to finish first ahead of California (433.700), Penn State (432.900), Minnesota (432.700), Nebraska (424.600) and Air Force (416.700). California and Penn State also advance to Friday night’s final with Stanford.
The Cardinal will pursue its sixth NCAA title on Friday.Stanford recorded top event scores on floor (75.400), vault (74.100) and parallel bars (74.250). Nine Stanford gymnasts combined for 13 top-10 finishes.
Akash Modi placed first on parallel bars (15.700), second on floor (15.450) and third on high bar (15.050). The reigning two-time Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Gymnast of the Year has earned 21 individual event victories this season: parallel bars (6), all-around (5), floor (4), pommel horse (3), rings (2) and high bar (1).
Brian Knott provided consistency and strong performances, placing second on parallel bars (15.150), fifth on high bar (14.950) and ninth on pommel horse (14.500).
Sean Senters finished first on vault with a 15.300. He has registered eight of the Cardinal’s top 11 scores in the event this season.
It was an up-and-down meet for the Cardinal, which showcased its top-flight NCAA talent in some events but faced adversity in others. Stanford did well to overcome the challenges with gymnasts following missed routines with clutch performances.
Stanford got off to a quality start on vault with a score of 74.100. Senters led the team with a 15.300, followed by Ryan Sheppard (14.850) and Taylor Seaton (14.800).
The Cardinal built on its momentum with a 74.250 in the next rotation on parallel bars. Modi led the team with a 15.700. He has registered the highest score in the event in eight of nine meets he has competed in this season.
Knott had a nice showing on parallel bars with a 15.150, while Robert Neff (14.550) and Jordan DeClerk (14.450) also produced strong scores.
Stanford ran into some challenges on high bar with two of the first three gymnasts suffering breaks in their routines for deductions. The Cardinal regrouped and finished strong with a season-best performance by Modi (15.050) and a quality routine by Knott (14.950) in the anchor position.
Stanford finished the event with a 70.800 and sat in second place with a 219.150 overall halfway through the competition.
The Cardinal got back on track in a resounding way in its fourth rotation on floor, scoring a season-high 75.400. Jonathan Deaton set the tone in the leadoff spot with a season-best 15.100. Modi led Stanford with a 15.450, while Senters (15.000), Neff (14.950) and Michael Levy (14.900) all turned in strong performances.
Stanford faced more adversity on pommel horse, registering its second-lowest score in the event on the season with a 69.200. After four performances of 14.100 or lower, Knott helped boost the Cardinal’s score with a team-high 14.500. Drew Willoughby and Senters contributed scores of 14.100.
Stanford finished the meet strong with a nice rotation on rings to secure a first-place result and a spot in Friday’s final round. The Cardinal posted a 72.100, led by a 15.350 by Dennis Zaremski in the anchor position. Brandon Beckhardt contributed a 14.700 and Levy notched a 14.550.