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Women's Gymnastics Back in Action
Courtesy: Stanford Athletics  
Release: 06/21/1999

March 10, 1999

Briefly: The Stanford women's gymnastics team (8-3, 4-2 Pac-10) took last weekend off to prepare for the last three meets of the regular season. Up next, the Cardinal, ranked 19th in the National Rankings, hosts Massachusetts on Friday, March 12. The meet is scheduled to begin at 7:30 pm in Burnham Pavilion.

Last Time Out: Stanford had a disappointing meet as it lost to Arizona (194.050-193.425) on Friday, February 26. Despite the loss, three different Stanford gymnasts won an event during that evening. Sophomore Jen Exaltacion finished first in the vault with the second highest score of her career (9.775) on that event. In the floor and balance beam, the Cardinal also held the top two positions. Freshman Katy Herbart came in first (9.875), while Exaltacion finished second in the balance beam. With a score of 9.875, senior Sarah Harding won the floor exercise while Amy Murakami came in second (9.825). Stanford was ahead after the first rotation, but Arizona went on a roll as it won the last three events. The final outcome of the meet turned on the uneven parallel bars. Typically Stanford's strongest event, the Wildcats took the top four spots in the parallel bars. Arizona's Heidi Hornbeek finished first in that event with a 9.800 as Herbert had the top Stanford score with a mark of 9.675.

Jumping Jenny: Sophomore Jenny Wilson has continued to shine in all four events. In four out of her last five meets, other than the competition at Arizona, she has scored nothing lower than 9.750 on the vault, bars and floor. Against Oregon State (Jan. 29), Wilson finished first in the all-around (38.875) after winning the vault (9.800). In the Chili's Invitational (Feb. 5), she was second among 18 gymnasts in the vault (9.800). Against Washington (Feb. 12), Wilson finshed in the top three in all three of those events, including a first place finish in the vault (9.825). A native of Portland, Oregon, Wilson scored career-highs in the all-around (39.225), which was good for second, and the balance beam (9.875), which was good for fourth, against Arizona State (Feb. 19). Though she had a difficult time against Arizona in the last meet, Wilson still scored a 9.650 on the vault, which resulted in a fourth place finish.

Excellent Exaltacion: Another Stanford gymnast to look out for is Jennifer Exaltacion. On the balance beam, Exaltacion has placed first in four of the eight meets, including three weeks ago when she set a school-record of 9.975. Additionally, Exaltacion recorded a career-high in the all-around (39.075) at the Chili's Invitational (Mar. 5) and has competed in the all-around in six of the eight meets. Since the meet at Cal (Jan. 22), she has scored nothing lower than 9.600, in any event, except for the 9.575 she scored in the vault at Arizona.

Freshmen Phenom: A big question for every team going into the season is "how well will the freshmen perform?" Six meets into this season, the Stanford coaching staff has been pleasantly surprised by the performances of rookie Kristin Jensen. A native of Easton, Pa., Jensen has been one of the most consistent performers on the uneven bars. In her seven meets, she has scored lower than a 9.750 on that event only twice. She registered a season-high 9.925 against Oregon State (Jan. 29), which resulted in a second place finish.

Senior Leadership: As with any successful team, the role of the senior gymnasts is very important. One senior who has led the team to early season success is Amy Murakami. A native of Wayland, Massachusetts, Murakami has scored 9.700 or higher in 17 of her 23 events this year. Against Oregon State (Jan. 29), Murakami had no score lower than 9.750 in all three of her events. Her most impressive feat of that competition, however, was that she tied her own school record in the uneven bars (9.975). In the Chili's Invitational (Feb. 5), she finished first in the bars (9.950) and clinched the team title with a 9.875 on the floor. Three weeks ago at Washington (Feb. 12), Murakami finshed first on the bars with a mark of 9.875. Two weekends ago, Murakami was a three-time winner as she won the bars (9.900), floor (9.925) and all-around (39.275) against Arizona State. Though she had a rough meet at Arizona, Murakami still managed a second place finish in the floor exercise (9.825).

Scouting the Minutewomen: Massachusetts is currently 9-4 overall after finishing first among four teams in a quad meet on Sat., Mar. 6. With a score of 192.075, the Minutewomen defeated Yale (185.825), Bridgeport (185.500) and MIT (171.775). In that meet, senior Michelle LoPresti paced UMass by winning her fourth all-around title with a score of 38.575. The Minutewomen have a Regional Qualifying score of 192.115, which places them just outside the Top 25 National Rankings. UMass Head Coach Dave Kuzara is in his sixth year at the helm for the Minutewomen and has a career record of 70-37.

Head Coach Mark Cook: At the helm of the Cardinal program is second-year head coach Mark Cook. In just one season on The Farm, Cook has transformed Stanford into one of the best gymnastics programs in the country. Last season, he led the Cardinal to the Pac-10 Title and an individual NCAA Title, both first-time accomplishments for the program. Previously one of the top assistant coaches in the nation, Cook came to Stanford from rival UCLA where he helped build the Bruins into a national championship team. During his three-year stint in Westwood, the Bruins improved each year. After finishing fourth at nationals his first year (1995), UCLA placed second in 1996, and in 1997 he helped direct the Bruins to their first-ever NCAA tilte. The 1996 West Region Assistant Coach-of-the-Year, Cook also helped lead the team to three consecutive West Region titles and two Pac-10 Conference championships. While at UCLA, Cook's duties included scouting, recruiting, strength development, training athletes and promoting gymnastics.

TOP 25 RANKINGS

(By Regional Qualifying Score)
     1.  Georgia           197.113
     2.  Alabama           197.075
     3.  *Utah             196.638
     4.  Louisiana State   195.931
     5.  *Penn State       195.881
     6.  Michigan          195.656
     7.  *Arizona State    195.506
     8.  Nebraska          195.256
     9.  Maryland          194.869
    10.  Ohio State        194.700
    11.  Minnesota         194.675
    12.  Iowa State        194.475
    13.  *Oregon State     194.450
    14.  West Virginia     194.438
    15.  Florida           194.388
    16.  Utah State        194.325
    17.  Oklahoma          194.306
    18.  *UCLA             194.288
    19.  Stanford          194.150
    20.  Illinois-Chicago  193.975
    21.  Illinois          193.938
    22.  Kentucky          193.938
    23.  Denver            193.894
    24.  North Carolina St.193.838
    25.  Towson            193.713 
 * represents 1999 opponents.

Stanford Season Highs

TEAM HIGHS

Vault 48.675 Arizona State (Feb. 19)

Uneven Bars 49.475* vs. Oregon State (Jan. 29)

Balance Beam 48.925 Arizona State (Feb. 19)

Floor Exercise 49.325 vs. Oregon State (Jan. 29)

Total Score 195.775 Arizona State (Feb. 19)

INDIVIDUAL HIGHS

 
Vault  
9.925
Larissa Fontaine
(at California - Jan. 15)

Uneven Bars 9.975* Amy Murakami (Oregon State - Jan. 29) Balance Beam 9.975* Jen Exaltacion (Arizona State - Feb. 19)

Floor Exercise 9.925 Amy Murakami (Arizona State - Feb. 19) Sarah Harding (Oregon State - Jan. 29)

All-Around 39.075 Jen Exaltacion (Chili's Invitational - Feb. 5)

* - Denotes a school record

Stanford in the National Rankings

                  RQS      Nat'l. Ranking  Region I    Pac-10 
Vault             48.356   28th            5th         5th
Uneven Bars       48.994   8th             2nd         2nd
Balance Beam      48.369   24th            4th         5th
Floor Exercise    48.669   27th            3rd         4th

Individuals in the Top 25:

Exaltacion (Beam) 9.856    17th            1st          2nd
* National Ranking based on Regional Qualifying Score (RQS).

Individual Titles Acheived This Year

Jen Exaltacion at UC Davis (Jan. 10)............. Beam (9.750) at California (Jan. 22).................Bars (9.80) ........................................Beam (9.875) Oregon State (Jan. 29) ............Beam (9.850) Arizona State (Feb. 19)........... Vault (9.825) ........................................Beam (9.975) at Arizona (Feb. 26) ................Vault (9.775) Katy Herbert at UC Davis (Jan. 10) ............A-A (37.925) .......................Beam (9.750) at California (Jan. 22) ............A-A (38.500) at Arizona (Feb. 26).......... Beam (9.875) Larissa Fontaine at UC Davis (Jan. 10) ............Vault (9.700) ....................................Bars (9.775) at California (Jan. 22) ............Vault (9.925) ....................................Floor (9.750)

Sarah Harding Oregon State (Jan. 29) ............Floor (9.925) at Arizona (Feb. 26) ................Floor (9.875) Tracy Kohl at UC Davis (Jan. 10) ............ Floor (9.775) at California (Jan. 22) .......... Floor (9.750) Amy Murakami Oregon State (Jan. 29) ............ Bars (9.975) ........................................Beam (9.850) UCLA & PSU (Feb. 5) ........... Bars (9.950) at Washington (Feb. 12) ......... Bars (9.850) Arizona State (Feb. 19)......... A-A (39.275) ....................................... Bars (9.900) ....................................... Floor (9.925) Jenny Wilson at Utah (Jan. 15) ....................Vault (9.825) Oregon State (Jan. 29) .......... A-A (38.875) ....................................Vault (9.800) at Washington (Feb. 12) ....... Vault (9.825)


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