April 18, 2008
Stanford, Calif. - Stanford women's gymnastics has just punched their ticket to their second straight NCAA Championship appearance and are looking for the first national championship in the program history. We checked in with Head Coach Kristen Smyth on Friday for an update with the NCAA Nationals just a week away:
Describe the team coming back from the rough start last weekend in Baton Rouge?
Well, it was exciting to see the beam team step up and perform with poise and confidence after a slower start on bars. Our team is resilient and mentally tough. We always talk about staying in meets. Our beam team knew it was going to take a strong performance to get us on track, and they delivered that and then some. Floor and vault were strong to finish, but LSU edged us out in the end. We battled back to make it a very close competition. I was extremely proud of their effort.
Talk about some of the unsung heroes at the Central Regional.
The Regional was a great meet for us because it was a true team effort. I have to commend our three all around performers Tab, Carly and Nikki for their consistent work across all four events. We also had strong contributions from Liz on vault and bars, Blair Ryland on vault, and Fee on beam.
What are the differences between this year's team and last year's team?
These two teams have many of the same qualities. They love gymnastics, they love Stanford, they love the program, and care a great deal about each other. The chemistry is very good. Last year's team hadn't competed in a National Championship. They didn't quite know what to expect. This year's team came in with an understanding of what it takes to be competitive at the highest level.
Talk a little bit about the other schools in your group.
It is a strong field of teams and will be a great competition. We are looking forward to being in the evening session with Georgia. The energy of the home crowd will be additional fuel--it will be an outstanding atmosphere.
What has been the focus this week preparing for Nationals?
Details, details, details. Doing the little things in a meet this competitive means a lot. Landings, execution and performance art will make the difference at this level. We have been tapering so that their bodies feel rested down the stretch. Lastly, we have been building confidence as a group by running through pressure routines and intrasquads on a daily basis. They are ready to go.