March 24, 2013
CORVALLIS, Ore. - The Stanford women's gymnastics team battled through a slow start and received standout individual performances to finish fourth at the Pac-12 Championships Saturday night at Oregon State.
Stanford totaled 196.625 points to finish behind conference champion Oregon State (197.850), UCLA (197.375) and Utah (197.075).
Amanda Spinner and Ashley Morgan claimed individual titles and Spinner was named the inaugural Pac-12 Specialist of the Year - awarded to the gymnast who is not an all-around competitor and excelled in her event throughout the year.
Spinner finished the regular season ranked first in the Pac-12 and fifth in the nation on beam, and did not disappoint at the conference championships, delivering a 9.925 to earn co-champion honors with UCLA's Vanessa Zamarripa.
"She's just a great leader and a great example for the team to follow," head coach Kristen Smyth said. "She earned the Specialist of the Year award, earned her title and she's probably one of the hardest workers you'll ever meet with the biggest heart."
Morgan continued her conference dominance on floor, earning her third consecutive title in the event by tying her career-best of 9.950. She tied Oregon State's Melanie Jones and UCLA's Olivia Courney.
Ivana Hong had an outstanding all-around meet and provided Stanford with much-needed scores at each stage of the competition to keep the Cardinal within striking distance of the other teams. Hong finished second in the meet with an all-around score of 39.575 - just 0.175 of a point behind first-place finisher, Zamarripa.
Hong's all-around total is the highest of any Stanford gymnast this season.
"She looked fabulous and she's a great competitor," Smyth said. "She really shined tonight."
Stanford extended its streak of finishing in fourth place or higher at the Pac-12 Championships to 13, including all 12 years with Smyth.
Though, it wasn't easy, as Stanford faced an early deficit after a tough start on vault. Ivana Hong led the Cardinal with a season-best 9.925 to finish seventh and was followed closely by Nicole Dayton who posted a 9.900 and finished ninth.
However, Stanford had three gymnasts score 9.725 or lower and found itself in an early hole.
"We were playing the entire meet from behind and never got into a rhythm on any event," Smyth said. "We did have some great individual performances but as a group we just were not really cohesive."
The Cardinal looked to rebound on bars and received 9.925s from Hong and Samantha Shapiro, and a 9.900 from Morgan. It was a career best for Hong, as she and Shapiro finished tied for fifth, while Morgan tied for eighth-place.
Stanford again had issues with consistency as one gymnast missed their routine and another scored 9.675, which the team was forced to count toward its bars score.
Stanford found a bit of rhythm on beam with four of six gymnasts scoring 9.825 or higher. Spinner led the way and was followed by Hong and Kristina Vaculik who notched 9.850s and finished tied for fifth.
Shona Morgan provided a strong beam routine and was solid for Stanford throughout the night in her three events. Morgan contributed 9.825s on beam and bars, and added a 9.850 on floor.
Stanford closed the night on floor where Ashley Morgan anchored the lineup and delivered her first-place routine. Hong capped her terrific all-around performance by tying her career-best of a 9.875.
The Cardinal will look to improve its consistency and focus on delivering a complete team performance as it prepares for the Regional Tournament on April 6.