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Women's Gymnastics Team Gets Set to Face Arizona
Courtesy: Stanford Athletics  
Release: 06/21/1999

February 24, 1999

Briefly: In its highest scoring meet of the season, the Stanford women's gymnastics team (8-2, 4-1 Pac-10) defeated #7 Arizona State (195.775-194.250) on Friday, February 19. Up next, the Cardinal, ranked ninth in the National Rankings, travels to Tucson for a meet at the University of Arizona on Friday, February 26. The meet is scheduled to begin at 7:30 (MST) pm in the 14,000-seat McKale Center.

Last Week: Stanford scored a seaon-high of 195.775 on Friday night on the way to defeating the seventh-ranked Sun Devils (194.250). Friday's high score surpassed the previous mark of 195.350, which was scored against Oregon State (Jan. 29). Stanford took the lead from the beginning, scoring 48.675, to Arizona State's 48.375, in the first rotation. The Cardinal remained ahead after each of the following rotations as a Stanford gymnast won the title on each event, including the all-around. In the vault, Jen Exaltacion came in first (9.825) and Jenny Wilson came in second (9.800) as the Cardinal scored its highest vault score (48.675) this year. Stanford took the top three spots in the uneven bars with co-captain Amy Murakami leading the way (9.900), followed by Exaltacion (9.875) and freshman Becky Meldrum (9.875). Murakami also finished first in the floor (9.925) as Stanford recorded its second highest mark of the year on that event (48.900). However, the highlight of the evening came on the balance beam, where the Cardinal also set a season-high (48.925). Exaltacion set a new school record in the beam with a near-perfect score of 9.975, surpassing the mark of 9.900, that was set by three Cardinal gymnasts in 1997. Stanford also dominated in the all-around competition as Murakami came in first (39.275), Wilson placed second (39.225) and Exaltacion finished third (38.975).

Jumping Jenny: Sophomore Jenny Wilson has continued to shine in all four events. In her last four meets, she has scored nothing lower than 9.750 on the vault, bars and floor. Against Oregon State (Jan. 29), Wilson finished first in the all-around (38.875) after winning the vault (9.800). In the Chili's Invitational (Feb. 5) three weeks ago, she was second among 18 gymnasts in the vault (9.800). Against Washington (Feb. 12), Wilson finshed in the top three in all three of those events, including a first place finish in the vault (9.825). A native of Portland, Oregon, Wilson scored career-highs in the all-around (39.225), which was good for second, and the balance beam (9.875), which was good for fourth, against Arizona State (Feb. 19).

Excellent Exaltacion: Another Stanford gymnast to look out for is Jennifer Exaltacion. On the balance beam, Exaltacion has placed first in four of the seven meets, including last week when she set a school-record of 9.975. Additionally, Exaltacion recorded a career-high in the all-around (39.075) at the Chili's Invitational (Mar. 5) and has scored nothing lower than 9.600, in any event, since the meet at Cal (Jan. 22).

Freshmen Phenom: A big question for every team going into the season is "how well will the freshmen perform?" Six meets into this season, the Stanford coaching staff has been pleasantly surprised by the performances of rookie Kristin Jensen. A native of Easton, Pa., Jensen has been one of the most consistent performers on the uneven bars. In her six meets, she has scored lower than a 9.750 on that event only once. She registered a season-high 9.925 against Oregon State (Jan. 29), which resulted in a second place finish.

Senior Leadership: As with any successful team, the role of the senior gymnasts is very important. One senior who has led the team to early season success is Amy Murakami. A native of Wayland, Massachusetts, Murakami has scored 9.700 or higher in 15 of her 19 events this year. Three weeks ago against Oregon State (Jan. 29), Murakami had no score lower than 9.750 in all three of her events. Her most impressive feat of that competition, however, was that she tied her own school record in the uneven bars (9.975). In the Chili's Invitational (Feb. 5), she finished first in the bars (9.950) and clinched the team title with a 9.875 on the floor. Two weeks ago at Washington (Feb. 12), Murakami finshed first on the bars with a mark of 9.875. Last weekend, Murakami was a three-time winner as she won the bars (9.900), floor (9.925) and all-around (39.275).

Scouting the Wildcats: Arizona enters Friday night's competition with a 6-4 record overall, 2-2 in the Pac-10, after losing to UCLA (194.275-192.575), but defeating Florida (190.475) and Cal State Fullerton (197.375) at the UCLA Invitational on Saturday, February 20. In that meet, senior Heidi Hornbeek paced the Wildcats by finishing third in all-around (38.975) and floor exercise (9.775). With an average team score of 191.517, the Wildcats are close to cracking the top 25 National Rankings. U of A Head Coach Bill Ryden is in his first year at the helm for the Wildcats after seven years as an assistant coach.

Head Coach Mark Cook: At the helm of the Cardinal program is second-year head coach Mark Cook. In just one season on The Farm, Cook has transformed Stanford into one of the best gymnastics programs in the country. Last season, he led the Cardinal to the Pac-10 Title and an individual NCAA Title, both first-time accomplishments for the program. Previously one of the top assistant coaches in the nation, Cook came to Stanford from rival UCLA where he helped build the Bruins into a national championship team. During his three-year stint in Westwood, the Bruins improved each year. After finishing fourth at nationals his first year (1995), UCLA placed second in 1996, and in 1997 he helped direct the Bruins to their first-ever NCAA tilte. The 1996 West Region Assistant Coach-of-the-Year, Cook also helped lead the team to three consecutive West Region titles and two Pac-10 Conference championships. While at UCLA, Cook's duties included scouting, recruiting, strength development, training athletes and promoting gymnastics.

NATIONAL TOP 25 RANKINGS
(By Season Average)

     1.  Alabama            196.309
     2.  Georgia            196.157
     3. *Utah               195.471
     4.  Louisiana State    195.160
     5.  Michigan           194.554
     6.  Penn State         194.432
     7.  Nebraska           193.996
     8. *Arizona State      193.975
     9.  Stanford           193.846
    10.  Minnesota          193.550
    11. *UCLA               193.459
    12.  West Virginia      193.420
    13.  Oklahoma           193.331
    14. *Oregon State       193.210
    15.  Ohio State         193.082
    16.  Denver             193.004
    17.  Iowa State         192.758
    18.  Florida            192.700
    19.  Utah State         192.583
    20.  Central Michigan   192.438
    21. *Washington         192.400
    22.  Brigham Young      192.388
    23.  Missouri           192.282
    24.  Maryland           192.263
    25.  Illinois           192.229 

* represents 1999 opponents.

Stanford Season Highs

TEAM HIGHS

Vault
48.675
Arizona State (Feb. 19)

Uneven Bars
49.475*
vs. Oregon State (Jan. 29)

Balance Beam
48.925
Arizona State (Feb. 19)

Floor Exercise
49.325
vs. Oregon State (Jan. 29)

Total Score
195.775
Arizona State (Feb. 19)

INDIVIDUAL HIGHS

Vault
9.925
Larissa Fontaine
(at California - Jan. 15)

Uneven Bars
9.975*
Amy Murakami
(Oregon State - Jan. 29)

Balance Beam
9.975*
Jen Exaltacion
(Arizona State - Feb. 19)

Floor Exercise
9.925
Amy Murakami
(Arizona State - Feb. 19)
Sarah Harding
(Oregon State - Jan. 22)

All-Around
39.075
Jen Exaltacion
(Chili's Invitational - Feb. 5)

* - Denotes a school record

Stanford in the National Rankings

               Avg. Score  Nat'l. Ranking  Region I  Pac-10 
Vault          48.300      17th            3rd       3rd
Uneven Bars    48.886       4th            1st       1st
Balance Beam   48.068      16th            3rd       4th
Floor Exercise 48.593      11th            1st       2nd
Individuals:
Exaltacion (Beam) 9.807    18th            1st       2nd
Fontaine (Vault)  9.808    15th            4th       4th
Murakami (Bars)   9.865     4th            1st       1st
Individual Titles Acheived This Year

Jen Exaltacion

at UC Davis (Jan. 10)...................Beam (9.750)
at California (Jan. 22).................Bars (9.80)
........................................Beam (9.875)
Oregon State (Jan. 29)..................Beam (9.850)
Arizona State (Feb. 19).................Vault (9.825)
........................................Beam (9.975)
Katy Herbert
at UC Davis (Jan. 10)...................A-A (37.925
........................  ..............Beam (9.750) 
at California (Jan. 22).................A-A (38.500)
Larissa Fontaine
at UC Davis (Jan. 10)...................Vault (9.700)
........................................Bars (9.775)
at California (Jan. 22).................Vault (9.925)
........................................Floor (9.750)
Sarah Harding
Oregon State (Jan. 29)..................Floor (9.925)
Tracy Kohl
at UC Davis (Jan. 10)...................Floor (9.775)
at California (Jan. 22).................Floor (9.750)
Amy Murakami
Oregon State (Jan. 29)..................Bars (9.975)
........................................Beam (9.850)
UCLA & PSU (Feb. 5).....................Bars (9.950)
at Washington (Feb. 12).................Bars (9.850)
Arizona State (Feb. 19).................A-A (39.275)
........................................Bars (9.900)
........................................Floor (9.925)
Jenny Wilson
at Utah (Jan. 15).......................Vault (9.825)
Oregon State (Jan. 29)..................A-A (38.875)
........................................Vault (9.800)
at Washington (Feb. 12).................Vault (9.825)


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