Feb. 11, 2011
CHICAGO - Shelley Alexander, Stanford's final performer of the night, scored a 9.9 on the balance beam to win the competition and give the No. 2 Stanford women's gymnastics team a narrow victory over No. 6 Oregon State and No. 10 UCLA at the IGI Chicago Style Invitational at Navy Pier on Friday night.
"That was the exclamation point," Stanford coach Kristen Smyth said. "That was a good routine to end the night on."
Alexander, a senior captain, also won the all-around for Stanford (11-0), which scored 196.475 to Oregon State's 196.350 and UCLA's 196.300 in the three-team meet. OSU is 10-5 and defending NCAA champ UCLA is 6-6. This was Stanford's third victory over UCLA this season and second over the Beavers.
Alexander's beam score was one of four 9.90's by the Cardinal, all of which resulted in victories: Allyse Ishino and Nicole Pechanec were among five to tie for first in the uneven bars, and Ashley Morgan tied for first on the floor exercise. Alexander won the all-around with 39.375 points, a season high. In all, Stanford had one career-best -- 9.750 by Danielle Ikoma on the bars - and four season bests.
Morgan entered meet tied for the nation's best season-average on floor and earned her fifth score of 9.9 or above in as many meets.
Stanford took the lead on the second rotation, which was the vault for the Cardinal, and maintained it the rest of the way despite finishing with its closest result of the season.
"It wasn't pretty," Smyth said. But pretty enough.
"Our anchors everywhere were spectacular," she said.
Indeed. Three of the 9.9 scores came on the back end of the lineup, and Ishino's came in the No. 4 spot on bars after Stanford had opened with a series in the 9.7's. Pechanec finished the bars rotation with her unique release move off the high bar and sent Stanford into the final event with a comfortable lead, at 147.500-147.125 over second-place Oregon State.
On the beam, the Cardinal got a 9.80 from Shona Morgan, but otherwise was unable to crack the 9.7's, while giving away tenths of points on small deductions. In fact, the beam score of 48.975 would be the lowest in the event this season.
But Alexander made up for it with a big finish, and Stanford was able to hold off the late rushes of both Oregon State and UCLA.
"Shelley has been such a gamer for us," Smyth said, listing a series of clutch performances in NCAA regional and national competition. "It was just another example of coming through when we needed it. She has that competitive fire and just embraces those moments under pressure."
The meet was part of a larger competition that included all age groups and levels. The college portion took place before a crowd of 1,056 that included a reunion of sorts for former Stanford gymnasts from the Midwest and East - such as Kelly Fee, Nicole Ourada, Aimee Precourt, Heather Purnell -- and their families.
"It was wonderful to have such support," Smyth said.
On Sunday, Stanford travels to Ann Arbor, Mich., for a tri-meet against No. 8 Michigan (9-1) and No. 9 Nebraska (4-4), beginning at 10 a.m. PT.
Smyth hopes to see more of the determination and confidence that has made Stanford unbeatable so far this season.
"We're showing a lot of toughness and a lot of fight," she said. "This team has a lot of great qualities."
Final scores: Stanford 196.475, Oregon State 196.350, UCLA 196.300.
Vault (Winner and Stanford): 1, Tauny Frattone (UCLA) 9.900. Stanford: Alyssa Brown 9.875, Allyse Ishino 9.850, Shelley Alexander 9.825, Ashley Morgan 9.825, Nicole Dayton 9.775, Danielle Ikoma 9.525. Team: UCLA 49.200, Stanford 49.150, Oregon State 49.075.
Uneven Bars (Winners and Stanford): 1 (tie), Allyse Ishino (Stanford), Nicole Pechanec (Stanford), Leslie Mak (Oregon State), Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs (UCLA), and Samantha Peszek (UCLA), all 9.900. Other Stanford: Alyssa Brown 9.875, Shelley Alexander 9.775, Danielle Ikoma 9.750, Kristina Vaculik 9.750. Team: UCLA 49.275, Stanford 49.200, Oregon State 49.125.
Balance Beam (Winner and Stanford): 1, Shelley Alexander (9.900). Stanford: Shona Morgan 9.800, Alyssa Brown 9.775, Danielle Ikoma 9.775, Allyse Ishino 9.725, Ashley Morgan 9.700. Team: Stanford 48.975, UCLA 48.975, Oregon State 48.925.
Floor Exercise (Winners and Stanford): 1 (tie), Ashley Morgan (Stanford) and Olivia Courtney (UCLA), each 9.900. Other Stanford: Shelley Alexander 9.875, Nicole Pechanec 9.850, Allyse Ishino 9.825, Danielle Ikoma 9.700, Shona Morgan 9.625. Team: Oregon State 49.225, Stanford 49.150, UCLA 48.850.
Records: Stanford 11-0, Oregon State 10-5, UCLA 6-6.