Complete Results| Scoresheets | Postmeet quotes
April 20, 2012
DULUTH, Ga. - Paced by nine All-America performances Friday, the Stanford women's gymnastics team advanced to the NCAA Super Six team finals for the sixth time in school history, all since 2002.
With 197.125 points, Stanford earned its highest team score since 2008 to place third and earn the final qualifying spot out of Session I. The top three finishers all were from the Pac-12 Conference, with UCLA (197.400) and Utah (197.125) finishing first and second.
The performance may have left others wondering how this team got there. The Cardinal had been ranked outside of the top 10 all season and never was regarded as a contender by anyone outside the walls of the team locker room.
"Nobody thought that we would get this far," Stanford coach Kristen Smyth said.
Among the teams left in Stanford's wake was Oklahoma (196.925), a top-three national finisher the past two years and winner of Stanford's regional competition.
Three Stanford gymnasts earned first-team All-America honors and earned spots in the Individual Event finals on Sunday. They were Samantha Shapiro on the uneven bars, and Ivana Hong and Amanda Spinner on the balance beam. Each scored 9.90 and placed among the top four in the session to earn those honors.
Four other Stanford gymnasts placed among the top eight to earn second-team All-America honors: Alyssa Brown (9.90) and Hong (9.90) on vault, Shona Morgan (9.875) on bars, Ashley Morgan (9.875) on floor, and Nicole Pechanec on floor (9.875) and in the all-around (39.325).
Stanford hadn't reached 197 points since the 2010 Super Six, and its' 197.125 is tied for the school's second highest score in NCAA semifinal or Super Six competition.
But Smyth believes there is more.
"We left a lot of tenths out there," she said. "I still feel like we're building. We're still getting better."
Smyth said there were glimpses of the potential of this year's team throughout the season, but none more so than in the Pac-12 Championships. The Cardinal was on pace to win, and score in the 194.300-range or above, before faltering on the final event.
Indeed, Stanford had no team-best scores Friday. Its' beam score of 49.375 and vault score of 49.300 were closest, as the team's second-highest of the season. But floor (49.150) was third and bars (49.300) were fourth.
If the team can mount season-high scores, or close to them, "I believe we are capable of competing with anyone tomorrow night," she said.
Smyth tweaked the lineup in a couple of areas, notably going to senior captain Jenny Peter to lead off bars, though she hadn't been in the lineup for several weeks.
"In the week leading up to nationals, Jenny was looking lights out in the gym," Smyth said. "We had a lot of confidence in her."
Peter scored a 9.80 to get the team off to a solid start.
"She set the tone," Smyth said.
Other clutch performances came from the beam team. Knowing they had to execute for the team to advance, freshman Rebecca Wing helped get the team off strongly with a 9.85 and the rest of the lineup held that standard.
"They did it with poise and confidence," Smyth said. "It was really inspirational."
It was a day that the Cardinal won't soon forget.
"We hit 23 of 24 routines, which we haven't done this year," Smyth said. "Even though we can do even better, I couldn't ask for more from my team. They handled everything beautifully."
The Super Six begins Saturday at 1 p.m. PT and can be seen live on ESPN3.com.
Winners and Stanford scores:
Vault: 1, Kailah Delaney (Utah) 9.950. Stanford: Alyssa Brown 9.900, Ivana Hong 9.900, Nicole Dayton 9.875, Pauline Hanset 9.825, Ashley Morgan 9.800, Nicole Pechanec 9.800.
Bars: 1, Aisha Gerber (UCLA) 9.925. Stanford: Samantha Shapiro 9.900, Shona Morgan 9.875, Ashley Morgan 9.850, Nicole Pechanec 9.850, Alyssa Brown 9.825, Jenny Peter 9.800.
Beam: 1, Megan Ferguson (Oklahoma) 9.950. Stanford: Ivana Hong 9.900, Amanda Spinner 9.900, Shona Morgan 9.875, Rebecca Wing 9.850, Alyssa Brown 9.850, Nicole Pechanec 9.800.
Floor: 1 (tie), Vanessa Zamarripa (UCLA), Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs (UCLA), Jessie DeZiel (Nebraska), Megan Ferguson (Oklahoma), each 9.900. Stanford: Ashley Morgan 9.875, Nicole Pechanec 9.875, Ivana Hong 9.850, Shona Morgan 9.800, Nicole Dayton 9.750, Pauline Hanset 9.425.
All-Around: 1, Rheagan Courville (LSU) 39.475. Stanford: Nicole Pechanec 39.325.
Record: Stanford 21-9.