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Sun Rises, Stanford Wins Open

Jan 29, 2022

STANFORD, Calif. – Senior Blake Sun won the parallel bars event title with a national-best 15.700 to lead the top-ranked Cardinal to a first-place finish at the Stanford Open from Burnham Pavilion on Saturday afternoon.
 
The Cardinal registered a team score of 410.250 to finish ahead of a Team USA squad made up of fellow Stanford gymnasts (407.800), No. 2 Oklahoma (405.450) and No. 9 California (393.000).

"Blake is a team leader, he's a captain, and he's a seasoned competitor," head coach Thom Glielmi said after the meet. "He trains how we wants to compete, and that work shows up. He is not only able to put together a routine that's highly difficult, but also execute it at an international level."

Led by Sun's massive score, which topped his previous best of 15.200 from the 2020 Stanford Open, Stanford gymnasts managed to finish atop the standing on each event. Blake Wilson won the floor title (14.500), Zach Martin captured top honors on vault (14.800) and Andrew Bitner won the high bar (13.700).
 
Competing unattached as part of Team USA, Khoi Young won the all-around title with a score of 83.350. The freshman posted a 14.950 on pommel horse to win the event title, while junior Riley Loos captured the still rings crown with a score of 14.400. Loos finished second in the all-around with a mark of 81.950. Stanford freshman Taylor Burkhart, who also competed with Team USA, was third at 81.050.
 
Stanford began the day on vault, where it managed a team score of 72.100. Martin, anchoring the Cardinal lineup, fell just short of his career high of 14.900 to win the event. Young took second at 14.750, while Curran Phillips earned a share of third at 14.700. Colt Walker, who finished with an 80.700 in the all-around to finish sixth with Team USA, took fifth at 14.600.

Moving to parallel bars, where Stanford entered the week ranked No. 1 nationally, the Cardinal scored a 70.000 – highlighted by Sun's 15.700. Sun's score is the highest mark nationally since 2016 when Oklahoma's Yul Moldauer hit for a 16.100 at the MPSF Championships. Ian Gunther (14.500), Walker (14.500), Burkhart (14.450) and Young (14.400) finished third through sixth while competing for Team USA.

Three Stanford gymnasts managed to place in the top four on high bar in the third rotation, led by Bitner's 13.700 to narrowly miss a career high of 13.750. USA's Young took second at 13.500, followed by Phillips in fourth with a score of 13.450. The Cardinal finished the rotation with a meet-best 65.750 team score.

Wilson, Bryan Perla and Loos took the top three spots on floor exercise, with Loos' number contributing to Team USA. Wilson stuck his 14.500, while Perla and Loos each scored a 14.400.

Sun finished his stellar day on pommel horse in the fifth rotation, registering a season-high 13.850 to take third. Young won the event at 14.950, while Gunther took fourth at 13.800 while competing for Team USA. The Cardinal finished the event with a 66.650 team score on pommels.

"The thing I was most happy about was pommel horse," Glielmi said. "We didn't have anyone fall, and one guy had a glitch but handled it. They just looked like a good, confident pommel horse team."

Finishing the meet on still rings, freshman Ian Lasic-Ellis and senior Thomas Lee were the top affiliated gymnasts for the Cardinal, registering a 14.150 to help Stanford to a 68.600 team score. For Lasic-Ellis, the score was a new career best. Freshman Mark Berlaga took fourth at 14.100, while Loos claimed top honors at 14.400.

"We are only going to get better from here, as the majority of guys are still not competing all the difficulty that they are capable of doing," Glielmi said. "Thomas Lee added some difficulty on rings, and as he gets stronger, I think he'll separate himself from the rest of the pack."

When asked about the team depth given the Cardinal fielded an all-around lineup consisting of Team USA members in addition to the team competing for Stanford on Saturday, Glielmi stated, "It speaks to the team culture about how they approach the competition, how they are taking advantage of the opportunities to compete when presented, and how competitive it is on this team. It's a very special team. They are supportive of each other, but they want to win and want to compete for Stanford. We're looking at scope of work for who is going to be the best athlete for the lineup, and it's great to see guys compete at a high level when the opportunity is there."

Stanford will return to action on Friday, February 4 when it travels to Seattle, Wash. for the Pac-12 Invite at 7 p.m.