April 10, 2010
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -
The Stanford women's gymnastics team established momentum at the outset of the NCAA Southeast Regionals and built from there - through three sublime rotations that gave the Cardinal the buffer it needed to win handily and advance to the NCAA Championships for the fourth consecutive season.
Shelley Alexander, a junior captain, won the vault (9.95) and the balance beam (9.90) to help Stanford score 196.775 points and finish first among six teams, and capture the school's fifth regional title.
Stanford and Michigan (195.800) advanced out of that regional, one of six around the country, and will be among 12 teams to compete in Gainesville, Fla., in the NCAA team preliminaries. The top three in each six-team session advance to the Super Six finals the next day. The meet concludes April 24 with the individual event finals.
For Stanford, it all began on its first rotation, the floor exercise. Tenaya West led off with a solid 9.80, and everyone else scored even higher, with Allyse Ishino and Carly Janiga hitting 9.90s.
"Their tumbling was great, their showmanship, their performance quality," Stanford coach Kristen Smyth said. "One routine built on another."
For Alexander, the meet was spectacular. She set personal collegiate career bests on the vault and in the all-around (39.500). In the latter, she placed third overall, between teammates Janiga (second, 39.525) and Ishino (fourth, 39.350). Never in her collegiate career, had she won multiple events in a single meet.
"On the beam, she knew we had a miss and rose to the occasion," Smyth said. "She competed in only one event at Pac-10s and I think that fired her up and used that as motivation to go out and prove something to herself."
Stanford next heads to the nationals for the eighth time in 10 years. In contrast to last season, when the team seemed to lose its confidence in the regionals, this Cardinal team seems to be gaining momentum (there's that word again).
Despite a late beam fall that prevented Stanford from hitting all 24 routines for the first time this season, the elements seem in place to produce the overall command performance that has been elusive all season.
1. Stanford (V- 49.400; UB- 49.275; BB- 48.800; FX- 49.300; OVERALL- 196.775)
2. Michigan (V- 49.300; UB- 49.375; BB- 47.975; FX- 49.150; OVERALL- 195.800)
3. Southern Utah (V- 48.825; UB- 48.625; BB- 48.825; FX- 49.050; OVERALL- 195.325)
4. West Virginia (V- 48.800; UB-48.600; BB- 48.850; FX- 48.850; OVERALL- 195.100)
5. Kent State (V- 48.775; UB- 48.800; BB- 48.550; FX- 48.700; OVERALL- 194.825)
6. North Carolina State (V- 48.925; UB- 48.525; BB- 46.800; FX- 49.175; OVERALL- 193.425)
Floor Exercise: 1 (tie), Natalie Beilstein (Michigan) and Kylee Botterman (Michigan), each 9.90. Stanford: Allyse Ishino 9.875, Carly Janiga 9.875, Shelley Alexander 9.85, Ashley Morgan 9.85, Nicole Pechanec 9.85, Tenaya West 9.80.
All-Around: 1, Kylee Botterman (Michigan) 39.550. Stanford: Carly Janiga 39.525, Shelley Alexander 39.500, Allyse Ishino 39.350.