April 24, 2008
Athens, Ga. - Stanford women's gymnastics has long stressed the importance of returning to the "Super Six" and gaining the nation's respect for what kind of a program the Cardinal have become. The Cardinal has reached the goal after scoring a 196.900 and finishing third in the evening session of the NCAA Nationals on Thursday night. Accompanying them from the evening session are Georgia (197.625) and Utah (196.950).
The three teams from the earlier session that qualified for the "Super Six" were all from the SEC with Alabama, LSU and Florida all qualifying for the event. The highest score from that session was 196.900, which was also the score Stanford produced in their third place finish.
The Cardinal was once again by a team effort that led to the team hitting 23 of 24 routines on the evening. Senior Tabitha Yim led the way with an all-around score of 39.500 and junior Nicole Ourada was right behind with an all-around score of 39.400. Stanford began the day on floor and scored a 49.175. They were led by sophomore Carly Janiga who scored a 9.875 as the last floor competitor for the Cardinal. Yim was right behind with a 9.850.
A move to vault was next for Stanford and another balanced effort paced the way to another strong score of 49.200. Four Stanford gymnasts scored a 9.850 and all scored a 9.800 or better. Senior Liz Tricase made her 2008 NCAA Nationals debut and scored one of the 9.850's. Freshman Shelley Alexander also continued her strong freshman season on vault and scored a 9.800.
After a bye, the Cardinal resumed action with their bar routine and came up big in a big way. The team scored a 49.325 on bars, which was their second-highest score of the season in the event, with only a 49.400 at Arizona State being a better mark. Tricase and Yim scored 9.900's to pace the Cardinal and junior Nicole Ourada was right behind with a 9.875. With this big score, it put Stanford in very good position with only two rotations left in the meet.
Stanford finished their competition with a trip to beam and hit all six routines en route to a 49.200. Yim scored another 9.900 and Ourada was again right behind with a score of 9.875. This gave the Cardinal a 196.900 team score and with a bye in the sixth and final rotation the Cardinal only could observe Michigan and Utah, who were in third and fourth position at the time to determine their fate.
Utah put together a big vault routine as they scored 49.400 and edged Stanford by five hundredths, to earn a second place finish. Michigan however didn't do quite as well on beam and finished far away from the qualifiers with a final team score of 196.075. This gave Stanford a berth in the "Super Six" and a vindication of all the hard work that they have put into the season.
The two other Pac-10 schools didn't fare as favorably as the Cardinal in the very pro-SEC environment at the Stegeman Coliseum. Oregon State finished sixth in the afternoon session and UCLA finished fifth in the evening session with a team score of 196.725. While the Bruins defeated the Cardinal in their first two meetings early in the season, Stanford got their revenge in a big way, winning the two final meets with much more at stake. The Cardinal also outlasted UCLA nearly a month ago at the Pac-10 Championships in Seattle, Wash. as they captured the Pac-10 Championships.
This is the first time in Stanford women's gymnastics history that they are making repeat visit's to the "Super Six" and will be the fourth trip overall for the Cardinal. Their other prior appearances were in 2007, 2004 and 2002. The team will look to beat their highest finish in school history, which was 3rd in 2004.
The "Super Six" is scheduled to begin tomorrow at 6:00 p.m EST at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga.