Feb. 18, 2010
TEMPE, Ariz. -
The No. 8 Stanford women’s gymnastics team returns to the Valley of the Sun to take on No. 24 Arizona State in a Pacific-10 Conference dual at Wells Fargo Arena. The meet is a homecoming of sorts for Stanford senior captain Carly Janiga, a native of Phoenix suburb Paradise Valley, and coach Kristen Smyth, who began her collegiate coaching career at ASU under John Spini, from 1997-2001. Stanford (7-2 overall, 4-1 in the Pac-10) is coming off a pair of impressive Pac-10 victories, earning a season-high score on Feb. 7 against visiting Washington and a road victory over then-No. 5 UCLA on Sunday. ASU (2-6) is coming off its best two outings of the season.
Stanford trailed midway through its dual-meet at No. 5 UCLA, but earned solid scores on the floor exercise and did enough on balance beam to earn the Cardinal’s second victory over the Bruins this season, this one by a 195.975-195.625 score at Pauley Pavilion. Stanford had only one first-place finisher, Carly Janiga in floor exercise (9.90), but combined superior depth with performances such as freshman Nicole Dayton’s 9.825 on the vault while making her collegiate debut in the event, to win.
Friday’s Opponent: Arizona State
The Sun Devils earned their highest road score of the season during a 196.650-195.425 victory at Washington last week, with Mary Atkinson (39.175) and Stephanie Hangartner (38.875) finishing one-two in the all-around. Arizona State’s top two team scores have come in the past two meets, first with a 195.700 score in a dual-meet loss to visiting Utah on Feb. 5. ASU ranks No. 18 in the uneven bars (48.692 average) and No. 23 on the floor (48.679). Individually, Atkinson ranks No. 13 on the vault (9.867) and Madison Snowden is No. 25 on the floor (9.838). However, the Sun Devils are without junior Beate Jones, a returning first-team All-Pac-10 selection the all-around, because of injury.
The Arizona State Series
Stanford has won the past 13 meetings with Arizona State, including the past three in Tempe. ASU’s last victory in the series was Jan. 18, 2004 in Tempe (195.825-195.500) over a Stanford team would go on to finish third in the nation. Through 2001, Stanford is 21-1 against the Sun Devils. Stanford coach Kristen Smyth has coached in the series each year since 1997. While at Stanford, her teams are 18-1 against Arizona State. While an assistant at ASU from 1997-2001, her teams went 6-6 against Stanford.
Senior captain Carly Janiga returns home to compete in the Phoenix area for the third and final time as a collegian. Janiga, a six-time All-American, is from Paradise Valley, attended Saguaro High School in Scottsdale and competed for Desert Devils Gymnastics in Mesa. In her previous competitions at ASU’s Wells Fargo Arena, Janiga has done well, but is searching for her first victory. As a freshman in 2007, she was third on the floor (9.90) and fourth on the bars (9.90) while helping Stanford to second at the Pac-10 Championships. In 2008, Janiga competed in two events during a quad meet, faring the best in the bars, scoring a 9.875 to finish second. Janiga is the defending Pac-10 all-around champion and was the 2009 NCAA runner-up on the uneven bars.
Stanford in the National Rankings
Stanford opened the season ranked No. 7 in the GymInfo coaches’ poll. However, subsequent rankings are empirical, based on average team scores. Therefore, Stanford’s average score, and then its Regional Qualifying Score, becomes the determining factor in the rankings. The following are the leaders in the current rankings:
1, Alabama 196.575; 2, Oklahoma 196.563; 3, Oregon State 196.129; 4, Florida 196.129; 5, Utah 196.088; 6, Arkansas 196.079; 7, Georgia 195.996; 8, Stanford 195.983; 9, UCLA 195.982; 10, Nebraska 195.721. 11, LSU 195.563; 12, Auburn 195.413; 13, Penn State 195.379; 14, Kentucky 195.338; 15, Iowa State 195.271; 16, Michigan 195.208; 17, Missouri 195.025; 18, Denver 194.596; 19, Southern Utah 194.585; 20, Illinois 194.568. 21, Arizona 194.363; 22, Michigan State 194.339; 23, Washington 194.213; 24, Arizona State 194.204; 25, North Carolina State 194.140.
What the Rankings Mean
Unlike other collegiate athletics rankings, gymnastics is not based on wins and losses or votes, but by season scoring average. Starting Feb. 22, teams and gymnasts will be ranked by a Regional Qualifying Score, which is based on each team’s top six regular-season scores. At least three scores must come from away meets. The highest score is then dropped and the remaining five scores are averaged. The 36 teams with the highest RQS earn NCAA regional berths. Stanford is shooting for an RQS among the top six, which would enable the Cardinal to earn a No. 1 seed.
Individual Scores in Rankings
Here is how Cardinal individuals rank among the nation’s top 25, with their season averages:
All-around: 11th, Carly Janiga, 39.292; 20th, Ashley Morgan, 39.113; 21st, Shelley Alexander, 39.110; 23rd, Allyse Ishino, 39.100
Bars: 6th, Carly Janiga, 9.888
Floor: 15th, Ashley Morgan, 9.863; 21st, Nicole Pechanec, 9.846
Team Scores in Rankings
In every event, Stanford is among the national top 20 in average score. Here is how the Cardinal ranks, and its season averages:
Overall: 8th, 195.983
Vault: 8th, 49.096
Bars: 4th, 49.096
Beam: 13th, 48.675
Floor: 4th, 49.117
Stanford vs. Ranked Opponents
Friday’s meet will be the sixth for Stanford against a team ranked in the national top 25. Stanford is 3-2 against ranked opponents, including 2-2 against those ranked in the top five. Stanford has competed twice against teams ranked No. 1 at the time, at Georgia and against visiting UCLA, losing the former by only 0.10 of a point and winning the latter.
Next Home Meet: Feb. 28 at Maples Pavilion
Stanford will take on rival California, as well as North Carolina and Eastern Michigan in its final home meet of the season, Feb. 28 at Maples Pavilion (2 p.m.). The competition will mark the final home meet for seniors Stephanie Carter, Allyse Ishino, Carly Janiga, Blair Ryland, and Tenaya West. North Carolina is ranked No. 31 in the country with a 193.208 average, Eastern Michigan is No. 47 at 190.494, and Cal is No. 48 at 190.413. North Carolina includes two sisters -- freshman Michelle Ikoma and senior Christine Nguyen -- of Stanford gymnasts.
Head Coach Kristen Smyth
Since Kristen Smyth, the reigning Pac-10 and Regional Coach of the Year, arrived as head coach in 2002, the Stanford women’s gymnastics team has had unprecedented success. Numbers tell much of the story:
• Of Stanford’s 81 All-America honors, 60 have come in Smyth’s tenure.
• There have been 56 Scholastic All-American honors in that span.
• Of Stanford seven NCAA top-10 finishes, Smyth has coached the team to six of them.
• Smyth has coached the Cardinal into the NCAA Super Six finals four times – Stanford had never advanced that far before – and finished among the top-three twice.