Honor Roll No. 7: Alex Buscaglia

During the months of June and July, we are releasing the 10 winners of this award, one by one. Our previously announced members of the Honor Roll are softball's Ashley Hansen, runner Elliot Heath, swimmer Austin Staab, volleyball's Alix Klineman, soccer's Christen Press and football's Andrew Luck. Our seventh announced member of The Bootleg's 2011 Honor Roll is gymnast Alex Buscaglia.

In a June 3rd article we released the 30 finalists for The Bootleg Honor Roll award for the 2010/2011 school-year.

The criteria are as follows:

Each academic year, The Bootleg's Honor Roll will recognize the top ten Stanford student- athletes who have performed at an exceptional level, with athletic accomplishments that are both extraordinary and inspirational. While achieving athletic success, these athletes should also have displayed uncommon leadership, sportsmanship and respect towards their fellow teammates and opponents. Finally, these honorees' performances and actions should also demonstrate their love for their particular sport as well as their school pride, the famed "Spirit of Stanford." Timing counts too.

If Alex Buscalgia and his teammates hadn't done enough to reach the NCAA Finals…

If Alex Buscaglia hadn't come up aces on the final day of the NCAA Finals, performing solidly on parallel bars (15.15) to keep Stanford on pace, then nailing the best score of the night (15.4) on the horizontal bars, then staying on track with a 15.3 on floor…

[Ed: Back-of-the napkin calculation: generally, anything over 15.1 is good and keeps Stanford on a national title pace, anything under 15 not so much. 15.1*24 scored finalists = 362.4, and Stanford won the national title with 363.45, while second and third were 361.6 and 360.15. The math ignores that it's easier to score well in some events than others, but are you really going to work that out on the back of a napkin?]

If all those scores hadn't set the stage for Buscaglia to clinch the NCAA Championship in the Finals' final rotation by nailing a 16.35 on the vault, also the best score of the day…

If the work of Stanford athletes past hadn't made this national title No. 100…

If Alex Buscaglia's first individual NCAA title hadn't come the very next day, when he laid down a 15.75 to run away with the horizontal bars crown by nearly half a point…

But the stars lined up for Buscaglia, and every time he was given an opportunity he nailed it. Tim Gentry earned three All-American honors this year and seven on his career, Buscaglia has two and six respectively. It was Gentry, not Buscaglia, who was the conference's co-gymnast of the year.

However, especially in gymnastics, where one slip or wobble can mean the difference between first and mediocre, Buscaglia was the center-stage star when the spotlight shone brightest, he was an Academic All-American, and for all of that, he's our seventh Honor Roll awardee.

Indeed, Stanford ordered its events in the finals such that it would end on rings and vault, its strongest two events. The tactic worked, but put a lot of pressure on the squad along the way.

"We saw the scores, there was a huge screen that had all the scores on it," Buscaglia told GoStanford of the moment before rings started. "We were, ‘Okay, we have to make up four points. We can do it, but we just all have to hit.'"

Hit they did.

"I landed the vault, and emotions kicked in," Buscaglia said. "I think it's the first time I've yelled after, actually, anything. … For me and my class to do it, the magnitude, it doesn't seem real."

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