March 1, 2013
STANFORD, Calif. - On a night dedicated to seniors Ashley Morgan and Nicole Dayton, it was only fitting the fourth-year duo provided the exclamation point to Stanford's 197.200 tri-meet victory over Oregon State (197.175) and California (195.000).
As No. 12 Stanford (10-3, 5-2 Pac-12) prepared for its final rotation on floor exercise, trailing No. 9 Oregon State (11-6, 5-1 Pac-12) by .050 of a point, the seniors knew they would need to leave it all out on the floor. Dayton performed first and set the bar for her teammates, delivering a career-best 9.875. Morgan provided the anchor score, performing fifth and earning a 9.925 to finish third overall.
Dayton was followed by Taylor Rice who tied her career-high of 9.875 and Shona Morgan who also tied her career-best with a 9.925 and finished tied for third with Ashley Morgan.
Pauline Hanset capped off an impressive evening with a career-high 9.900 to finish fifth. It was the third score Hanset contributed on the night that either tied or was a career-best.
Stanford head coach Kristen Smyth was impressed with her team's performance on floor which recorded a season-high team score of 49.500.
"The floor team really stepped up, and with Oregon State putting the pressure on us going into the last event, to see us finish strong was really exciting," Smyth said.
Despite being outscored on three of four events and claiming just one individual victory on the night, Stanford's balanced lineup handed Oregon State its first Pac-12 loss and defeated Cal (8-6, 1-6 Pac-12) for the second time on the season.
Smyth was happy with her team's overall performance and excited the seniors finished their home careers with a victory.
"Over the last four years, watching Ashley and Nicole grow, improve and become such amazing leaders - it's all you can hope for to send them out in style, and I feel like we did that tonight," said Smyth.
The Cardinal started strong on vault with five gymnasts scoring a 9.850 or higher and finished with a season-high team score of 49.425. Hanset led the way with a career-best 9.925 to finish tied with Oregon State's Hailey Gaspar for second. Kristina Vaculik set a career-high of her own on the event, posting a 9.900 to finish fourth.
Stanford welcomed 2008 Olympian Rebecca Wing back to its uneven bars lineup after missing the first part of the season due to injury. Wing did not waste any time making her presence known, tying her career-best of 9.900 to finish tied for fourth.
Ashley Morgan led the Cardinal and finished tied for second with a 9.925, while Vaculik added her second fourth-place finish on the night with a 9.900. Stanford notched its second consecutive season-best team score on the night with a 49.400 in the event.
With the momentum seemingly on its side, Stanford looked to capitalize on balance beam - an event it has dominated this season, outscoring all 11 opponents and garnering a fourth-place national ranking.
Instead, Stanford found itself battling to overcome two missed routines.
Shona Morgan provided a great start for the Cardinal, notching a season-high 9.900 in the leadoff position.
After a fall in the second routine, Ivana Hong steadied the ship by tying her career-best with a 9.925, to claim the event's individual title. Amanda Spinner followed with an impressive 9.900 performance to finish tied for second with Shona Morgan.
The Cardinal would suffer an uncharacteristic second fall in the fifth position. Despite the added pressure, Hanset delivered a strong performance and tied her career-best of 9.800.
"She had a phenomenal night," Smyth said. "Beam was really a clutch performance, she kept us in the meet and stepped up big when we needed her to."
The victory over Oregon State snapped a four-meet losing streak for Stanford and was its first win over the Beavers since Feb. 11, 2011. It was Stanford's 29th consecutive victory over Cal, with the Cardinal holding a 38-1 record against the Golden Bears dating back to 1996.
Stanford will complete its regular season on the road, heading to Norman, Okla. on March 10 at 12:00 p.m. (PT) for a tri-meet against Oklahoma and North Carolina.
With postseason looming, Smyth is happy with where her team is at and believes the team still has room to grow.
"We're the kind of team that is continuing to improve and get better," said Smyth. "We still have so much more that we're going to do in the next few weeks and that's really exciting, encouraging and confidence-building for the team."