Nov. 18, 2010
STANFORD, Calif. - Samantha Shapiro, one of America’s top elite gymnasts and an Olympic hopeful for 2012, has signed a letter of intent with Stanford women’s gymnastics, coach Kristen Smyth announced Thursday. Shapiro is trained by Galina Marinova and Artur Akopyan at the All-Olympia Gymnastics Center in Los Angeles.
Shapiro joins Pauline Hanset of Knoxville, Tenn., as the program’s first two members of the class of 2015.
“I am so excited Samantha chose Stanford she is a marquee recruit for us and is going to be a standout performer in the NCAA,” Smyth said.
Shapiro, a senior at Windward School in L.A. and a U.S. national team member for the past five years, was seventh in the all-around at the U.S. Visa National Championships on Aug. 14 in Hartford, Conn., and placed in the top 10 individually on the balance beam (seventh) and uneven bars (ninth).
Before competing at the senior elite level, Shapiro was a three-time U.S. junior national champ, winning on the uneven bars and balance beam in 2008, and finishing second all-around. In 2007, she won the beam, and was second all-around and on the bars and floor.
At the 2008 Pan American Gymnastics Union Individual Event Championships in Rosario, Argentina, Shapiro won the bars and beam at the senior national level meet. She went on to win the bars at World Cup Montreal in 2009.
“She is going to be a star in college and is recognized for her exquisite lines, beautiful form, flexibility and overall artistry,” Smyth said.
The signing class boosts the fortunes of an already strong program that has eight NCAA top 10 finishes since 2001, and has reached the Super Six finals three of the past four years.
“Sami and Pauline are going to be great additions to our program and to the Stanford community at large,” Smyth said. “They are team players and natural leaders.”
They will compete for a program that has produced 42 first-team All-America honors and 63 national All-Academic selections since Smyth took over as coach in 2002. The Cardinal has competed in the NCAA Super Six finals five times in the past nine years, with a pair of top-three finishes and a No. 4 finish in 2010.
Hanset is a nationally-ranked Level-10 gymnast, and a strong all-around competitor. A senior at West High in Knoxville, Hanset trains at Premier Athletics. She has competed for the Belgian national team, placing second all-around at the national championships in May.
Hanset is a two-time Junior Olympic national qualifier, with regional titles on the floor and beam. This year, she also qualified for the inaugural Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup, a prestigious honor.
“Pauline is a solid all around performer and will provide critical depth for us on all four events, but is especially strong on vault and beam,” Smyth said.