Jan. 22, 2010
STANFORD, Calif. -
In a matchup of top 10 teams, the No. 8 Stanford women’s gymnastics team faces top-ranked UCLA (2-0). Stanford (1-1) enters the meet after coming within 0.10 of defeating five-time national champion Georgia to open the season and a victory over Arizona. The meet boasts three of the top six ranked all-around gymnasts in the country. No. 4 Carly Janiga (Stanford) and No. 6 Anna Li (UCLA) are scheduled for an all-around battle, while No. 3 Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs (UCLA) is scheduled to compete in three events. With a score of 196.025 last weekend, head coach Kristen Smyth continues to be encouraged by the results of the team while still noting where improvements can be made, especially against the top team in the country.
Follow the Action
A live webcast and live stats are available on gostanford.com. Tim Swartz and Kevin Danna will provide the call on the premium CardCam webcast. For the webcast, look for the “Watch” button on the women’s gymnastics schedule page or on the Calendar of Events on the home page. A link to live stats is available at the same locations.
This Week: UCLA
The Bruins opened with strong showings against current No. 6 Utah and at No. 20 Washington. Anna Li, competing in her first all-around since 2008, won the all-around, bars and beam against Washington. She ranks first in the nation on bars, scoring 9.925 against the Huskies. Sophomore Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs won the all-around a week earlier in the Bruins’ 196.6-195.125 season-opening victory over 2009 Super Six finalist Utah, the team that advanced over UCLA on a tiebreaker at the NCAA team preliminaries. UCLA also has won eight out of 10 events, although struggled after having two falls on beam in Seattle. UCLA begins its Bay Area tour on Friday night, facing Cal and San Jose State in a tri-meet in Berkeley.
The UCLA Series
UCLA and Stanford have swapped Pac-10 team titles each year since 2003, with the Bruins taking the title last year by overtaking Stanford on the final rotation at Maples Pavilion. The Pac-10 meeting was the only time the teams faced each other last season. A scheduled dual meet at Burnham Pavilion was canceled days before when the Bruins were stricken with illness and not allowed by Pac-10 officials to make the trip. UCLA’s last victory over Stanford at Burnham was Jan. 17, 1997. The Bruins lost in the most recent dual meet at Stanford, falling 196.825-196.250 at Burnham. The teams have met 10 times in the past three years, with the teams earning a 5-5 split.
Stanford beat current No. 24 Arizona 196.025-194.675 in a home opener at a packed Burnham Pavilion. Carly Janiga continued to dominate, capturing the all-around title for the second time in as many meets this season, as well as capturing the floor exercise with a 9.875. The meet was highlighted by junior Shelley Alexander’s 9.90 to cap a strong team performance in the vault that resulted in a season-high event score of 49.250. From there, Stanford never trailed in the meet, despite a falls on the beam and floor, which were overcome by strong performances by teammates in both events. Freshman Ashley Morgan scored a collegiate best 9.85 on the floor, good for second, and was one of three Stanford gymnasts to achieve collegiate bests in the meet.
Stanford has not lost to UCLA at Burnham Pavilion since 1997, though that figure is a bit misleading because Stanford faced the Bruins five times at Maples Pavilion during that span. Since 1997, Stanford is 1-0-1 against UCLA at Burnham, with a 196.825-196.250 victory in 2007 and a 197.450-197.450 tie in 2003. Against Pac-10 competition, Stanford is 27-0-1 at Burnham since 1998. The last conference team to beat Stanford there was Washington on Jan. 16, 1998. Overall, Stanford is 38-1 at Burnham since that 1998 Washington loss. The only blemish was a season-opening loss to eventual national champion Georgia in 2008.
Stanford in the National Rankings
Stanford opened the season ranked No. 7 in the GymInfo coaches’ poll. However, all subsequent rankings during the season are empirical, based on average team scores. Therefore, Stanford’s scores in its first two meets became the team’s new determining factor in the rankings.
The following are the current rankings:
1, UCLA 196.362; 2, Oklahoma 196.275; 3, Alabama 195.962; 4, Florida 195.925; 5, Oregon State 195.875; 6, Utah 195.712; 7, Arkansas 195.662; 8, Stanford 195.537; 9, Nebraska 195.450; 10, Georgia 195.325. 11, Auburn 195.262; 12, Kentucky 195.187; 13, Missouri 195.175; 14, Denver 195.112; 15, Michigan 194.875; 16, LSU 194.862; 17, Iowa State 194.325; 18, Boise State 194.200; 19, Michigan State 194.175; 20, Washington 194.162. 21, Southern Utah 194.100; 22, Penn State 194.025; 23, North Carolina State 193.825; 24, Arizona 193.662; 25, Illinois 193.112.
What the Rankings Mean
Unlike other collegiate athletics rankings, gymnastics is not based on wins and losses or votes, but by season scoring average. Starting Feb. 15, teams and gymnasts will be ranked by a Regional Qualifying Score, which is based on each team’s top six regular-season scores. At least three scores must come from away meets. The highest score is then dropped and the remaining five scores are averaged. The 36 teams with the highest RQS earn NCAA regional berths. Stanford is shooting for an RQS among the top six, which would enable the Cardinal to earn a No. 1 seed.
Team Scores in Rankings
In every event, Stanford is among the national top 20 in average score. Here is how the Cardinal ranks, and its season averages:
Overall: 8th, 195.537
Vault: 4th, 49.187
Bars: 9th, 48.887
Beam: 16th, 48.537
Floor: 8th, 48.925
Individual Scores in Rankings
Here is how Cardinal individuals rank among the nation’s top 25, with their season averages:
All-around: 4th, Carly Janiga, 39.312; 25th, Shelley Alexander, 38.962
Vault: 20th (tie), Shelley Alexander and Ashley Morgan, 9.850
Bars: 19th, Carly Janiga, 9.837
Floor: 14th, Carly Janiga, 9.862; 25th, Ashley Morgan, 9.837
All-America Carly Janiga
Senior captain Carly Janiga enters the season with six All-America honors, including four first-team. Janiga was the 2009 NCAA uneven bars runner-up with a score of 9.9125. It gave Stanford its highest NCAA individual finish since 2001. She also earned second-team All-America honors in the all-around. In fact, Janiga won both the Pac-10 and NCAA South Central Regional all-around titles last season and is expected to be a contender for the 2010 NCAA crown. Janiga also is a three-time Scholastic All-American and is among nine gymnasts at Stanford since 2000 to double as an All-American athletically and academically.
Head Coach Kristen Smyth
Since Kristen Smyth, the reigning Pac-10 and Regional Coach of the Year, arrived as head coach in 2002, the Stanford women’s gymnastics team has had unprecedented success. Numbers tell much of the story:
• Of Stanford’s 81 All-America honors, 60 have come in Smyth’s tenure.
• There have been 56 Scholastic All-American honors in that span.
• Smyth has coached the Cardinal into the NCAA Super Six finals four times – Stanford had never advanced that far before – and finished among the top-three twice.