Monday, January 14, 2013

Cal vs. Stanford: The First of Many Matchups

Haas Pavilion was packed on Sunday afternoon for the first of five matchups between Stanford and Cal this season.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Yeah... the pavilion was somewhat depressing, but it should have been packed because who would want to miss the opportunity to see high-level gymnastics for FREE?


Anyway, Cal lost to Stanford: 425.000 to 411.150. As the scores indicate, it was a rather decisive victory for the Cardinal gymnasts, who basically swept the individual titles as well. (Cal's Jeffrey Langenstein tied Stanford's Eddie Penev for the floor title. That was the only first place finish for the Bears.) Generally speaking, if a college team is going to be in the hunt, it needs to score 70 or above on almost every apparatus. Cal, unfortunately, fell short of that mark on five of the six events. Their best team performance was on floor exercise, where they bested Stanford with a 72.650.

Kevin Wolting, 14.5

Even though they lost, Cal has a lot to be proud of. Their team is made up of mostly freshmen--13 of their 20 gymnasts are freshmen--and for their youth, they posted a very respectable team score. Unfortunately, I do not think that the Bears will take home the NCAA title this year, but I do think that their program is building steam again. I'm curious to see the strength of the team in about 2 years.


As for Stanford, the Cardinal did not have the meet they wanted to have. As Thom Glielmi said, "We definitely started slow. Being the first meet, that's understandable to some extent but we really have to work on our mental approach a bit more." By that, he means, "We have to stop falling." Stanford's first outing was riddled with falls. Sean Senters fell twice on floor, with another landing that ended with a questionable prone fall. Both John Martin and Gabriel Alvarado fell off pommel horse. Eddie Penev fell on his vault. Cameron Foreman fell on his straddle Tkatchev and his double-twisting double layout on high bar. (Cameron, you'll never read this, but I think that I jinx you. Whenever I watch you compete, you fall off high bar. It's like science or something.)

And those were just a few of the falls. Now, a fall does not necessarily mean disaster, if the other gymnasts can rally. That's really what's key, and at times, Stanford showed promise. For instance, Stanford frankly had a rather dismal high bar rotation. At the beginning of the fifth rotation, Jonathan Deaton and Chris Turner both fell on their Kovacs (Turner wasn't even close), which could have spelled disaster for junior Paul Hichwa, who has both a Kolman and a Kovacs in his routine. But after seeing his teammates fall, Hichwa caught both his big releases, attempting to salvage a disappointing high bar rotation for the Cardinal.

Sean Senters, 15.050

If Stanford wants to be National Champions, they need more gymnasts who do not become flustered when they see their teammates fall. This ultimately will help their team score, which suffered from a lack of scores in the 15s. Penev's 15.650 on floor, Senters's 15.050 on vault, Fosco's 15.3 on rings, and Nolff's 15.0 on rings will not be enough if they want to defeat Penn State at the end of the season. (Penn State, by the way, posted a whopping 446.85 this weekend with 17 scores of 15+. We'll see if they can remain that exceptional throughout the season.)

That said, it's still early in the season, so we will see what happens.

My biggest concern...

My biggest concern for both teams is their health. More specifically, I'm worried about the gymnasts' knees. On floor exercise, the trend is to do a lot of twisting in combination. Unfortunately, I saw a lot of gymnasts twisting right off the ground (a big no-no), as well as many who were still twisting as they're feet are hitting the ground (an even bigger no-no). Those two things, in and of themselves, are recipes for disaster, but I also saw a few gymnasts take off with their shoulders cockeyed (one shoulder lower than the other). When that happens, the gymnast no longer flips perpendicular to the ground, but at a funky angle, making for awkward landings, which increase the likelihood of knee injuries.

Eddie Penev, 15.650

No one likes to see a gymnast get hurt, and during the meet, Tanner Dowell went down on a 2 1/2 twist on floor, grabbing his knee. (So far, I haven't seen an update on his condition.) Jeffrey Langenstein already wears a knee brace, and Eddie Penev has had knee problems in the past. I'm praying to the gym gods that, with a little more conditioning, the gymnasts will be completing those twists without a problem. Please pray with me.

Team scores from the weekend

Penn State: 446.85 (HOLY MOTHER OF NADIA!)
Illinois: 425.45
Stanford: 425.00
Oklahoma: 423.5
Nebraska: 418.9
Cal: 411.150
Air Force: 405.5
Army: 404.15
Arizona State (Club): 392.3
University of Illinois-Chicago: 385.75

The top all-around scores from the weekend

Eddie Penev, Stanford: 85.200
Joey Peters, Illinois: 84.650
Jesse Glenn, Army: 82.550
Alec Robin, Oklahoma: 80.950
CJ Schaaf, Nebraska: 80.900
Sean Senters, Stanford: 80.200

(I apologize if I missed a few 80+ scores. I'm not a very good database.)

Preview of Week 2

This weekend, the majority of the teams will be competing on Saturday, January 19. We shall see if Penn State can continue to dominate, and I'm curious to see how Michigan will fare.

  • Stanford | Cal | Nebraska | Oklahoma (Stanford Open, Stanford, CA)
  • UIC | Illinois | Iowa | Michigan | Minnesota | OSU (Windy City Invitational, Chicago, IL)
  • Navy | Penn State | Springfield | William & Mary (Navy Open, Annapolis, MD)
  • Air Force | Army


  1. What did the guy who won pbars and pipe do? Do you have videos? What about Penev's vault? And the guy who won rings? And any Cal?

    1. Eddie Penev's vault:

      Kevin Wolting's vault:

      Kevin Baker's vault:

      Chris Turner's vault:

      Ryan Patteron's vault:

  2. Freshman Kyle Zemeir of California scored 80.1 in the AA.

    Hass pavilion seats 11,000 people, so it's probably not the best place to hold these meets. It would look empty even if a thousand people showed up.

    1. Agreed. I don't know Cal's campus that well. Is there another facility that they could use?

    2. Cal has had meets in Kleeberger Field House, which is a lot smaller, but not as comfortable.

      Burnham Pavilion at Stanford is just the right size.