Jan. 15, 2012
STANFORD, Calif. - Pauline Hanset looked like a girl making her collegiate debut. She had a smile on her face throughout the gymnastics meet Sunday.
Then again, the Stanford freshman from Knoxville, Tenn., always seems to have a smile on her face.
This one, however, may have been bigger than usual. Hanset had the most spectacular opening day among the Cardinal's vaunted five-member freshman class - four of whom made their first appearances in Stanford's NorCal Quad Meet victory at Burnham Pavilion.
A pair of 9.9 scores, by junior Ashley Morgan and senior Nicole Pechanec, highlighted Stanford's season-opening victories before a packed gym. Stanford, which hasn't lost at Burnham in four years, scored 194.900 points, and was followed by San Jose State (194.300), Sacramento State (191.575), and UC Davis (190.775).
Hanset competed in three events and scored 9.750 or higher in all of them, including a 9.850 to finish tied for second with all-around winner Thomasina Wallace of San Jose State on floor.
Hanset was Stanford's high scorer on the balance beam (9.750) and tied for third on the team on vault (9.775). She was among five Cardinal to compete in at least three events.
"She can do all four events. She's been really steady all preseason. Her confidence is just growing and growing. It was great to see her perform as well as she trains."
Hanset was one of five gymnasts to make their Stanford debut. Among them were three-time U.S. junior national champion Samantha Shapiro, who scored a 9.750 in her only event, the uneven bars. The former U.S. senior national teamer is coming back from a foot injury and is one of many Cardinal gymnasts whose role will expand as the season progresses.
Rebecca Wing, a 2008 British Olympian, scored highest on floor (9.775) among her three events and assumed the important leadoff position on two events - the bars and beam.
Morgan earned her fifth consecutive score of 9.9 to win the floor exercise, and the same score was good enough to earn Pechanec a victory on the uneven bars. Pechanec's point value was enhanced by the difficulty of the release move that she invented, the "Pechancova," after the surname she used while competing internationally for the Czech Republic.
Pechanec earned two victories, tying teammate Nicole Dayton on vault at 9.825.
Morgan was Stanford's only all-around competitor, scoring 39.075 points. But she was edged by Wallace, who scored 39.150.
The meet had its share of rough spots. A scoring malfunction forced long gaps between rotations as scores were tabulated by hand. The delays, however, did appear to affect the Cardinal.
"It certainly was not an easy environment," Smyth said, "But I felt the girls handled adversity very well. We train for things like that, standing around. We pushed their mental toughness and I was pleased and encouraged with how they responded."
Though the total scores were somewhat of a mystery, Stanford took the lead immediately with Dayton's leadoff score on vault, the first routine of the first rotation, and the Cardinal maintained a healthy wire-to-wire advantage.
Stanford resumes its season with a dual-meet against Washington on Sunday, at Burnham, at 2 p.m. The meet may provide the collegiate debut of Ivana Hong, perhaps the most heralded recruit in program history. However, Jan. 27 at Oregon State is another date being considered for her first meet.
Hong was a world championship bronze medalist in 2009, a 2008 U.S. Olympic alternate, and two-time U.S. senior elite national champion, winning the beam and vault at the 2009 USA Visa Championships in Dallas.
She is being brought along slowly, because of an ankle injury, as are several of her teammates.
"It's all part of the big picture," Smyth said. "We really want to do a great job of managing our bodies, protecting our athletes. We want to get better every week and keep building throughout the year."
-- David Kiefer, Stanford Athletics
Sunday's Team scores:
|2.||San Jose State||48.300||48.650||48.300||49.050||194.300|
Individual winners and Stanford competitors:
Vault: 1 (tie), Nicole Dayton (Stanford) and Nicole Pechanec (Stanford), 9.825. Others: Pauline Hanset 9.775, Ashley Morgan 9.775, Lucy Meyer 9.650, Alex Archer 9.575.
Records: Stanford 3-0, San Jose State 2-1, Sacramento State 1-3, UC Davis 0-4.