Feb. 24, 2012
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah -
Stanford is the opponent at Utah's first home meet against a conference foe since joining the Pac-12 this year. This is a return trip for the Cardinal, who last year handed Utah its first home loss in four years in a dual meet that was decided in the final rotation. The competition also serves as the last in a series of five consecutive road meets for the Cardinal, including four against conference opponents. The Cardinal has produced its three highest team scores of the season over the past three weeks and expects to continue its improvement as gymnasts continue to get healthy from preseason injuries.
What: No. 12 Stanford (7-2) at No. 5 Utah (5-1)
When: Friday, 6 p.m. PT
Where: Huntsman Center, Salt Lake City, Utah
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Road Trip: Stanford is on the final leg of its five-week road stretch, having already traveled to Oregon State, UCLA, Cal, and Fort Worth, Texas. Stanford is 3-2 so far on the trip, including 1-2 against Pac-12 teams. The stretch has taken Stanford to the three toughest environments for visitors in the conferernce: Oregon State, UCLA, and Utah.
Team Scores in the National Rankings: Stanford ranks in the national top 20 in every event by average scores, with Regional Qualifying Scores and ranking in parentheses:
Team: 12th, 195.725 (13th, 195.580)
Vault: 17th, 48.942 (18th, 48.870)
Bars: 7th, 49.092 (8th, 49.030)
Beam: 11th, 48.767 (14th, 48.685)
Floor: 15th, 48.925 (19th, 48.855)
Individuals in the National Rankings: Here is how Stanford gymnasts rank among the nation's top 25 in each event by average scores:
All-Around: 21st, Nicole Pechanec, 39.288
Vault: 21st, Samantha Shapiro, 9.875; 21st, Alyssa Brown, 9.875
Beam: 20th, Shona Morgan, 9.829
Floor: 4th, Nicole Pechanec, 9.900; 16th, Ashley Morgan, 9.867
Average Scores Throughout the Lineup: Here is Stanford's average-score range from 1-6 in each event:
Vault: 9.875 (Alyssa Brown, Samantha Shapiro)-9.788
Bars: 9.825 (Samantha Shapiro)-9.663
Beam: 9.829 (Shona Morgan)-9.654
Floor: 9.900 (Nicole Pechanec)-9.635
All-Around: 39.288 (Nicole Pechanec)-38.867 (two total)
Friday's Opponent, Utah: Utah (5-1) is in its first season in the Pac-12 and is playing host to its first conference opponent since joining. Utah has won its past five meets, including over perennially strong programs Georgia and Michigan. Utah's only loss came in the season opener to UCLA.
Utah is ranked No. 5 by season average (196.721) and has a season high of 197.550. Utah is fourth in the nation in vault (49.288), eighth on bars (49.063), third on beam (49.167), and first on floor (49.204). The team's top all-arounder is Corrie Lothrop, who carries a 39.367 average and is ranked No. 13 in the nation.
The 2011 Utah-Stanford Matchup: On Jan. 28, 2011, Danille Ikoma nailed her balance beam routine to give No. 2 Stanford a pressure-packed 196.825-196.500 victory over No. 4 Utah at the Huntsman Center. With the teams deadlocked going into the final rotation - the beam for Stanford and the floor exercise for Utah -- Stanford suffered a blow when its third gymnast fell. Because five of the six scores count, the Cardinal could not afford another miss. Instead, Ashley Morgan followed with a 9.90, and Shelley Alexander scored a 9.80. That left the meet up to Ikoma. A fall would doom Stanford, a clean routine would win it. Ikoma stayed focused and aggressive and tied her career-best with a 9.875 to ensure the victory.
The Utah-Stanford Series: Utah holds a commanding 16-4 all-time lead in the series, though Stanford has won their two most recent meetings, in a 2011 dual and finishing fourth to Utah's sixth at the 2010 NCAA Super Six finals. Ten of their past 12 meetings have come in NCAA postseason competition, including five in the Super Six. Before 2010, Utah had won five consecutive meetings. Until last year, Stanford had never beaten Utah in Salt Lake City.
Last Week: Ashley Morgan won two events and was among three Stanford gymnasts to match the team's highest individual score this season during the Cardinal's victory in the three-team Metroplex Challenge at the Fort Worth Convention Center Arena on Saturday. No. 12 Stanford (7-2) scored 196.375 points to beat Bridgeport (193.600) and Brown (191.725). Morgan won the uneven bars (9.875) and tied with teammate Nicole Pechanec to win the floor exercise, each with a 9.925 - a score reached only twice all season in all events. Shona Morgan a scored a collegiate career high, also at 9.925, to win the beam.
Stanford's Most Recent Lineup: This was the lineup Stanford used in its most recent meet, at the Metroplex Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday. The Cardinal earned its second-highest score of the season (196.375) while beating Bridgeport and Brown:
Vault: Lucy Meyer, Pauline Hanset, Ashley Morgan, Ivana Hong, Alyssa Brown, Nicole Dayton.
Bars: Rebecca Wing, Nicole Dayton, Samantha Shapiro, Shona Morgan, Ashley Morgan, Nicole Pechanec.
Beam: Rebecca Wing, Ivana Hong, Ashley Morgan, Shona Morgan, Amanda Spinner, Alyssa Brown.
Floor: Nicole Dayton, Rebecca Wing, Shona Morgan, Pauline Hanset, Nicole Pechanec, Ashley Morgan.
Stanford's All-Conference Gymnasts: Stanford has three gymnasts who have earned all-conference honors:
Alyssa Brown, sr.: A first-team All-Pac-10 selection on balance beam in 2011 and a 2010 second-team selection ... tied for fifth in the conference on vault the past two seasons, and was seventh on beam and eighth on bars in 2011 ... in her second year as team captain ... Canadian national champ on vault and beam in 2006.
Ashley Morgan, jr.: Tied for the 2011 Pac-10 championship on floor with a score of 9.90 ... named to the All-Pac-10 first team on floor ... an All-Pac-10 second-team choice on the floor as a freshman ... has the nation's highest average on the floor in 2011 (9.914) ... has earned 12 meet victories on floor over the past two seasons.
Nicole Pechanec, sr.: An All-Pac-10 second-team selection on the floor in both 2011 and 2010 ... hit 9.9's in three events last season and 9.925 on the bars and floor this year ... has been Stanford's top all-arounder this season, setting her career best of 39.325 on Feb. 5 at UCLA ... has competed in three World Championships for the Czech Republic ... invented a release move on bars that is officially named after her, and is called the "Pechancova," for her Czech surname.
The Fab Five: The Stanford freshman class figures to be one of the best in school history. The class is comprised of two-time U.S. senior national champion Ivana Hong, U.S. national team member Samantha Shapiro, 2008 British Olympian Becky Wing, and two-time Junior Olympic national qualifiers Alex Archer and Pauline Hanset. Hong and Shapiro have been limited by injuries, though they are getting healthier. All have made an impact in the lineup. Shapiro has the team's highest average on bars and vault, Hong has scored 9.9's on vault and beam, Wing has performed at leadoff in three events, Hanset has scored three consecutive 9.85's on floor, and Archer has been a regular in the vault lineup.
Pac-12 Leads in National Titles: With the addition of Utah, the Pac-12 now matches the Southeastern Conference for the most NCAA women's gymnastics championships, with 15 apiece. Utah has won nine and UCLA six.
International Experience: Stanford's roster includes seven gymnasts with senior national team experience. The list includes two Olympians, two Olympic alternates, two U.S. senior national team competitors, and five World Championships veterans. This list doesn't include Kristina Vaculik, who is taking a year off from school to prepare for the 2012 Olympics, which her Canadian team has qualified for.
Senior Alyssa Brown was a 2008 Canadian Olympic team alternate, competed in two World Championships, and won a silver on vault at the 2006 Commonwealth Games. She is a two-time Canadian champion.
Freshman Pauline Hanset represented Belgium, the country of her birth, in a four-nation meet in Germany in 2011.
Freshman Ivana Hong, a national champion on vault and beam in 2009, was a 2008 U.S. Olympic team alternate. She was a bronze medalist on the beam at the 2009 World Championships and a team gold medalist at the 2007 worlds. Hong also earned a 2007 Pan Am Games bronze in the all-around.
Sophomore Shona Morgan competed for Australia in the 2008 Olympics, finishing 15th in the all-around. She was a five-time national champion and competed in three World Championships.
Senior Nicole Pechanec competed in three World Championships and two European Championships for the Czech Republic, the home country of her parents, and won a Czech national title on floor.
Freshman Samantha Shapiro competed for the U.S. senior national team from 2009-11, winning several international meet titles. Earlier, she won three U.S. junior national championships.
Freshman Rebecca Wing competed for Great Britain in the 2008 Olympics. She also competed in two World Championships and two European Championships.
Super Six Experience: Stanford has four gymnasts who were part of the lineups that competed in the 2010 NCAA Super Six finals in Gainesville, Fla., on the Cardinal's fourth-place team. They are: Alyssa Brown, Ashley Morgan, Nicole Pechanec, and Jenny Peter.
2011 in Review: Stanford went 20-4 in the 2011 regular season, opening with a school-record 15 consecutive victories. The Cardinal went 6-2 against teams that advanced to the NCAA Super Six finals, including handing Utah its first home loss in four years and Michigan its first in three. The Cardinal also displayed a measure of perseverance, three times rallying from behind or a tie in the final rotation to win.
But with six gymnasts sidelined for the season with injuries, there was added responsibility on the remaining nine, who, by the end of the year, were tired. The Cardinal finished fourth in the Pac-10 and fourth in the NCAA Ann Arbor Regional, finishing one place from a fifth consecutive NCAA Championships berth.
Stanford Program Highlights
Five NCAA Super Six appearances (most recent in 2010)
Three top-four NCAA finishes (most recent, fourth in 2010)
Eight top-10 NCAA finishes
64 All-America honors since 2002
Eight conference championship teams
28 consecutive NCAA regional appearances