Feb. 24, 2013
STANFORD, Calif. -
The Stanford women's gymnastics team fell at Utah, 197.300-197.075, despite a strong team performance consisting of multiple season-highs and career-bests.
Performing in front of a crowd of 13,357, along with those watching on the Pac-12 Networks, the No. 10 Cardinal posted team season-highs on vault (49.325) and balance beam (49.475), to finish with a team score in the 197s for the second consecutive meet.
The team had a tough start on uneven bars but had standout performances from senior Ashley Morgan and sophomore Alex Archer.
Morgan tied her season-high on bars with a 9.875 to finish second in the event. She picked up her fourth all-around title on the season with a final score of 39.450. Morgan continues to be one of Stanford's most consistent and durable competitors, competing in 27 of 28 possible events this season.
"She's been an absolute rock and I've been so impressed with how she's led the team out on the competition floor every weekend," said head coach Kristen Smyth. "She is a top all-arounder in the country and people need to see her as that."
Archer made two bars lineups in Stanford's past three meets entering Saturday's competition with No. 7 Utah. After watching the teammate before her suffer a missed routine, Archer knew her score in the anchor position would count toward the team's score.
Archer responded by tying her career-high of 9.825.
"She kept us in the meet," Smyth said. "For her to do that, in front of over 10,000 people, with the meet on the line, I was so proud of her for rising up for that moment. She was spectacular."
Despite trailing Utah 49.500-49.050 after the first event, Stanford would make a dent in the lead on vault. The Cardinal was led by senior Nicole Dayton who tied her career-high for the second time this season with a 9.950 to finish tied with Utah's Tory Wilson for first place.
Sophomore Pauline Hanset also tied her career-best, earning a 9.875, and tied Morgan for sixth overall in the event.
Stanford was led on floor by junior Shona Morgan who finished third with a 9.900. Shona Morgan continued to be a staple for the Cardinal on floor, beam and bars, contributing scores of 9.800 or higher in each event.
Ashley Morgan and freshman Taylor Rice tied for fifth with scores of 9.850. Dayton and Kristina Vaculik recorded season-highs, notching scores of 9.825 and 9.800, respectively.
Vaculik competed in the all-around competition for the first time this season and had a strong outing, finishing with a 39.300. Smyth was happy with Vaculik's performance and said she expects Vaculik to continue to improve with her first all-around competition completed.
Stanford concluded its meet with perhaps its most impressive team performance of the night, with three gymnasts earning career-best marks on beam.
Junior Amanda Spinner led the way with a career-high 9.950, finishing first in the event. She was followed by Vaculik who tallied a career-best 9.900 to tie fellow sophomore Ivana Hong for second. Though her score did not count toward the team's total, Rice also set a career-high with a 9.825.
Smyth was satisfied with her team's performance and believes the experienced gained from competing on such a big stage will help the team as postseason competition approaches.
"To be able to go on the road and into an environment like Utah, which has an incredible crowd and atmosphere, and for them to stand tall and do what they did tonight - it gave them the confidence they needed to improve and that we will be a team at the end of the year contending for a national title," said Smyth.
Stanford will return for its final home meet of the season as it plays host to California and Oregon State at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 1 in Burnham Pavilion.