BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Three Stanford gymnasts combined for five first-team All-America honors but the Cardinal saw its season come to a close Friday with a fourth-place overall finish in Session I of the NCAA Championships Semifinals.
The Cardinal posted a 196.600, placing behind first-place Oklahoma (197.500), Georgia (197.300) and LSU (197.100). Michigan finished fifth with a 196.425, followed by Illinois which went 195.800.
It was a season full of accomplishments for Stanford which finished with a 25-8 record – tying for the third-most wins in program history. The Cardinal placed second at the Pac-12 Championships, recorded its second-highest team score at an NCAA regional competition (197.275), and qualified to its seventh NCAA Championships in the past eight years and 14th time overall.
There is potential for more accomplishments this season with Kristina Vaculik, Shona Morgan and Samantha Shapiro qualifying to Sunday’s NCAA Individual Events Finals. The trio each earned First Team All-America honors with top-four finishes.
Vaculik garnered the first All-American awards of her career when she tied for first on bars (9.925), tied for second on beam (9.900) and tied for fourth in the all-around (39.225).
“The most inspiring thing about Kristina was how she bounced back after her floor routine,” said head coach Kristen Smyth. “She came back and did great on her next three events. It showed a lot of growth and leadership potential for the future. She’s done a great job all year, but I see her making those steps to becoming an even better leader every time she steps out on the floor.”
Shapiro and Morgan each scored 9.900 on bars to tie for third and earn the second All-American honors in the event of their careers. It is the first first-team award for Morgan.
“Shona has done a great job since the day she arrived and was great all year,” Smyth said. “You couldn’t ask for more out of anybody than what she gave. She loves her team and Stanford women’s gymnastics. She represented our program better than we could have ever asked for.”
Stanford finished the meet with strong sets on bars and beam but it wasn’t quite enough to overcome challenging starts on floor and vault.
Morgan got the Cardinal going on the right track, opening the meet with a great floor routine to score 9.850. Rachel Daum and Melissa Chuang also scored 9.850 to tie for highest on the team. However, Stanford counted a 9.750 and 9.725 to finish the rotation with a 49.025.
“The team fought and did a good job of covering for each other,” said Smyth. “We had some spectacular individual performances but it was tough overcoming the first few routines on floor.”
Stanford had a good day on vault with all counted scores in the 9.775-9.825 range. However, the scores were not quite what Stanford needed to keep pace with the top-three teams.
At the halfway point of the meet, Stanford was in fourth place and trailing then-third place Georgia, 98.650-98.050.
After a bye in the third rotation, Stanford delivered an outstanding performance on bars to position itself well for a qualifying spot. The Cardinal went 49.300, led by a 9.925 from Vaculik and two scores of 9.900 by Shapiro and Morgan.
Nicolette McNair also had a strong showing on bars (9.825) and Becky Wing delivered a crucial hit routine after a fall (9.750).
Stanford kept its momentum going on beam, led by a 9.900 from Vaculik who tied for second. Morgan led off with a 9.875 to finish ninth, while Amanda Spinner followed with a 9.850. Spinner finished the season scoring 9.850 or higher in every meet.
Daum (9.825) and Nicolette McNair (9.800) also had strong showings on beam to help lead Stanford to a 49.250 event score.
Stanford finished the meet on a bye and needed one of the teams it was trailing to falter. However, each of the three teams ahead of the Cardinal hit five routines apiece to secure their spots in the finals.
Vaculik, Morgan and Shapiro will compete in the NCAA Individual Event Finals on Sunday at 12 p.m. (PT). The competition will be streamed online via ESPN3.com.