Dec. 21, 2011
STANFORD, Calif. - The Pac-12 is now on par with any women's gymnastics conference in the country, with 15 NCAA titles among its current members, and Stanford is expected to be in the thick of the conference race.
In the coaches' preseason poll, Stanford was picked to finish fourth in what could be the nation's premier conference this season.
Of the 30 NCAA team titles awarded since the first championship in 1982, current Pac-12 members have won half of them, with the Southeastern Conference claiming the other half.
Stanford, along with Utah, six-time NCAA champion UCLA, and Oregon State, have become perennial qualifiers for the NCAA championships. The Cardinal has reached the NCAA Super Six finals five times since coach Kristen Smyth took over the program in 2002 and has finished among the top-four three times since 2004.
The inaugural Pac-12 championships will be held March 24 in Salt Lake City. Stanford had won five Pac-10 team championships since 1998.
Here is the coaches' predicted order of finish, with first-place votes in parentheses:
1. UCLA (6)
2. Utah (2)
3. Oregon State
7t. Arizona State