Feb. 28, 2010
STANFORD, Calif. -
Stanford coach Kristen Smyth used to introduce her graduating class on Senior Day with a hand-held microphone. But it didn't take long for her to realize that emotions made it difficult to get through.
Sunday was the final home meet for five Stanford seniors: Stephanie Carter, Allyse Ishino, Carly Janiga, Blair Ryland and Tenaya West. And, as if scripted like the introductions, the seniors grabbed the spotlight.
Allyse Ishino earned her first collegiate all-around victory during the Cardinal's quad meet victory, scoring 196.525 points to beat North Carolina (192.975), Eastern Michigan (190.125) and California (188.825) during the team's final home meet of the season, at Maples Pavilion.
Ishino won the uneven bars (9.875) and balance beam (9.825) and set her collegiate career high on floor exercise (9.875) on the way to scoring 39.450 points in the third all-around competition of her collegiate career.
Ishino's story bears repeating. She was an alternate for the 2004 United States Olympic team, but missed her entire freshman season because of a pulmonary embolism. Late in her sophomore year, she tore ligaments in her knee, and spent much of last season trying to round back into form.
This year, she's healthy and has added a vibrant floor routine that she choreographed herself. She had never competed on the floor or in the all-around at Stanford until Feb. 14. Now, she's provided the Cardinal with a deeper lineup and greater possibilities.
Ryland went in for Shelley Alexander, who took a nasty fall on the balance beam, but got back up and finished the routine. She didn't appear to be shaken up, but the coaches elected to play it safe and keep her out of the final rotation.
"We've been preparing for that all year and she really rose to the occasion for sure," Smyth said. "Doing a double pike at the end takes a little bit more endurance, and she was ready to reveal that tonight."
Stanford's floor exercise continued to dazzle, scoring 9.875 or better on each countable routine on the way to a meet-high 49.475. This was in contrast to Stanford's low score of 48.625 on the beam, the Cardinal's most trying apparatus.
"We're getting a little closer," Smyth said. "What we're doing in meets hasn't been what we've been doing in practice. Once they put all four events together, I don't see anyone stopping this team. But we haven't done it yet."
But Carter has steadfastly remained a vital part of the program, offering support, advice and even serving in the role of an extra coach. It was while talking about Carter after Sunday's meet that Smyth allowed her emotions to get the best of her.
"She's so connected with each individual on the team," Smyth said. "She knows exactly what to say to them to bring out the best in them. She's the one who's always there for her teammates, whether they're sick or injured. Any time day or night, they go call her. She's really the anchor, the glue that holds the team together.
"And to see what she's been able to do, and what affect she's had on our team, even though she's not competing ... you just can't put it into words. The fact that she's sacrificed so much to do this and not have a chance to compete says a lot about her character and how much this means to her.
1. Stanford - (VT- 49.225; UB- 49.200; BB- 48.625; FX- 49.475; FINAL-196.525)
2. North Carolina - (VT- 48.325; UB- 48.450; BB- 48.125; FX- 48.075; FINAL- 192.975)
3. Eastern Michigan - (VT- 47.775; UB- 47.150; BB- 47.175; FX- 48.025; FINAL- 190.125)
4. Califonia - (VT- 47.500; UB-47.175; BB-46.450; FX- 47.700; FINAL- 188.825)
Individual Results (Winners and Stanford scores)
Vault: Shelley Alexander (S) 9.925. Other Stanford: Ashley Morgan 9.875, Allyse Ishino 9.85, Carly Janiga 9.80, Blair Ryland 9.775, Nicole Dayton 9.725.