The No. 4-ranked Stanford men's gymnastics finished second in the semifinals of the NCAA Championships on Thursday in Ann Arbor, Mich., qualifying to Friday's finals for the ninth consecutive season.
Stanford senior Sean Senters. Photo by Don Feria/isiphotos.com.
Stanford recorded top event scores on vault (73.950) and parallel bars (73.050), and nine Cardinal gymnasts combined for 14 top-10 finishes.
It was an up-and-down meet for the Cardinal, which needed a strong finish on rings in its final rotation to secure a qualifying position.
After a difficult result on pommel horse in the fifth rotation put the team in third place, Stanford delivered the scores needed on rings to finish second and advance to the finals.
Sean Senters had a great meet, finishing first in both of his events. He scored a career-high 15.450 on floor and earned a 15.250 on vault to claim the individual victories.
Paul Hichwa won his second consecutive individual title with a 15.350 on high bar. He won the MPSF title in the event two weeks ago at the conference championships.
After missing the first part of the season due to injury, Brian Knott continued to provide Stanford with significant contributions, finishing first on parallel bars with a 15.300.
Akash Modi won the all-around title with an 87.450, recording four top-10 finishes. He placed third on pommel horse (15.050) and parallel bars (15.050), tied for fifth on floor (15.250) and finished ninth on vault (14.750).
Stanford got off to a great start on vault, posting a meet-best 73.950 to take an early lead. The Cardinal remained in the lead after recording a 73.050 in its second rotation on parallel bars.
Stanford faced its first round of adversity on high bar when two gymnasts scored 12.900. Performing in the anchor position, Hichwa helped get the Cardinal back on track with a competition-best 15.350. Stanford scored 70.200 on the event but slipped to third place.
The Cardinal carried the momentum from Hichwa's routine to its next rotation on floor, where it posted a 75.000 -- the team's second-highest score on the event this season.
Along with Senter's first place result, Modi tied for fifth (15.250) and Michael Levy placed ninth (15.150).
The strong floor rotation bumped the Cardinal up to second place heading to pommel horse. However, Stanford would again encounter challenges when two gymnasts recorded scores of 13.300 and 12.650.
Modi paced the Cardinal with a team-best 15.050 to finish third, while Knott went 14.550 to tie for 10th. Stanford finished the rotation with a 69.650 and slipped back into third place, holding a narrow advantage over Iowa.
Stanford finished strong on rings with a series of consistent performances to score 71.700 and secure a spot in Friday's finals. Dennis Zaremski capped the competition with a team-best 15.300 to place fourth.
Stanford will pursue its sixth NCAA title Friday at 4 p.m. (PT).
Stanford managed just three hits in dropping a 7-0 Pac-12 Conference contest to visiting Washington on Thursday night.
The Huskies led, 1-0, entering the fifth inning before scoring five runs, two earned, to take a stranglehold on the game.
The Cardinal (1-9, 24-15) lost its eighth in nine games.
The two teams meet again Friday at 7 p.m.
One positive for Stanford was Tylyn Wells, who threw two scoreless innings in relief, striking out three.
Wells entered the game with the bases loaded and no outs in the sixth, getting two quick outs before walking in a run.
She also recorded a hit in her last at bat.
Lauren Birks and Jordan Burgess won their match at No. 2 singles, but visiting St. Mary's beat Stanford, 4-1, Thursday.
The Cardinal (2-7) plays twice Sunday at Pacific, meeting Sacramento State at noon, and the host Tigers at 3 p.m.
The Gaels clinched the win at No. 1 as Jordan Shaw and Samantha Tinsley defeated Brittany Howard and Carly Wopat, 21-14, 21-13.
Jordan Shaw is the daughter of former Stanford men's and women's volleyball coach Don Shaw and the sister of current Cardinal men's volleyball player James Shaw.