Feb. 27, 2011
STANFORD, Calif. - Sophomore Ashley Morgan won three events, but the day belonged to senior Danielle Ikoma, who captured her first-ever all-around victory while competing in her final home gymnastics meet.
No. 2 Stanford’s 196.825-192.375 victory over Arizona State at Maples Pavilion on Sunday extended its' best-ever start to 15-0 and came during the team's Senior Day and home finale. Stanford won every event and its gymnasts earned eight collegiate career-best marks.
Morgan, the daughter of baseball Hall of Famer Joe Morgan, set or tied career bests in all three events. She scored 9.925's on vault - a Stanford season high in that event -- and floor exercise. She also scored 9.00 on the balance beam. Morgan, tied for the No. 1 ranking in the country on floor, extended her winning streak in that event to seven while scoring 9.925 for the fourth time this season.
“It’s just exciting to go out and do these great routines that (coach) Kristen (Smyth) choreographed for us and have your teammates behind you,” Morgan said. “I don’t have scores on the back of my mind, it’s more of just doing my routine.”
Nicole Pechanec took the honors in the uneven bars with a 9.90, helping Stanford to its second-best team score of the season.
It was a full day for Stanford’s non-seniors, who arrived at Maples Pavilion at 10 a.m. – four hours before the meet – and decorated the locker room with a Las Vegas casino theme, complete with huge playing cards and cash adorned with photos of seniors Ikoma, Shelley Alexander and Allyse Ishino.
This year’s theme was: CaSenior Royale. The reason: Because Stanford hit the jackpot when it landed these three gymnasts.
Asked to describe the locker-room scene, Morgan said: “A lot of gold and glitter.”
Ikoma, for one, was golden. She captured the all-around for her first career all-around victory. A regular in the lineup in various events for three years, Ikoma had never competed in all-around until this season, but now has done so in six of the Cardinal's eight meets. Her score of 39.275 was her best-ever and edged Alexander, who was second at 39.175.
For Ikoma, the victory was an appropriate reward.
“For four years, she tried to get into the lineup,” Smyth said. “She is the toughest, hardest working kid you’ll ever meet.”
Ishino, who owns Stanford's highest all-around score of the season, did not compete because of an ankle sprain suffered last week. But her presence, as well as Alexander’s and Ikoma’s, have been vital to Stanford’s rise, which made Smyth’s heart-felt narration during the post-meet Senior Day video tribute especially emotional.
“The athletes … they inspire you,” Smyth said. “Those three have given so much. Shelley and Dani have exceeded all expectations, and Allyse has always been one those great athletes. They certainly deserve to go out in style.”
They’ll have that chance. The Cardinal now is within reach of its first undefeated dual-meet season if it can win the March 6 quadrangular meet at Cal, involving the Golden Bears, Oregon State and Denver. After that, Stanford heads to the Pac-10 Championships March 19 at UCLA and then NCAA competition.
Final score: Stanford 196.825, Arizona State 192.375
Vault (winner and Stanford): 1, Ashley Morgan (Stanford) 9.925. Stanford: Shelley Alexander 9.875, Alyssa Brown 9.825, Kristina Vaculik 9.825, Danielle Ikoma 9.775, Nicole Dayton 9.775. Team: Stanford 49.225, Arizona State 48.350.
Uneven Bars (winner and Stanford): 1, Nicole Pechanec (Stanford) 9.900. Stanford: Alyssa Brown 9.875, Danielle Ikoma 9.850, Shelley Alexander 9.775, Kristina Vaculik 9.775, Nicole Dayton 9.775. Team: Stanford 49.175, Arizona State 48.000.
Balance Beam (winner and Stanford): 1, Ashley Morgan (Stanford) 9.900. Stanford: Danielle Ikoma 9.825, Shelley Alexander 9.825, Shona Morgan 9.825, Alyssa Brown 9.775, Nicole Pechanec 9.650. Team: Stanford 49.150, Arizona State 47.175.
Floor Exercise (winner and Stanford): 1, Ashley Morgan (Stanford) 9.925. Stanford: Nicole Pechanec 9.875, Nicole Dayton 9.850, Danielle Ikoma 9.825, Kristina Vaculik 9.800, Shelley Alexander 9.700. Team: Stanford 49.275, Arizona State 48.850.
Records: Stanford 15-0, Arizona State 4-9.
-- David Kiefer, Stanford Athletics