Sports


NCAA West Regional cross country at Stanford

 

The Stanford men's cross-country team gets a second chance to win a title when the NCAA West Regional is contested Saturday on the Stanford Golf Course.

The sixth-ranked Cardinal finished second to Colorado in the Pac-12 championships, and the Buffaloes will run in the NCAA Mountain Regional.

Eighth-ranked Portland will likely be Stanford's toughest opponent. The Pilots are in a similar situation, having finished second to new WCC member BYU, which will also race out of the Mountain.

Other schools ranked in the Top 25 and competing in the regional are Oregon (17th) and UCLA (21st). The top two teams earn automatic berths in the NCAA championship race, while several others could advance as an at-large team.

Stanford's top runner is Chris Derrick, who won the regional two years ago and was the Pac-12 runner-up this year.

On the women's side, eighth-ranked Stanford will be racing against a strong field that includes No. 6 Washington, No. 11 Oregon, and No. 26 California. USF, ranked 27th, is looking for its first ever trip to the nationals.

Stanford will be led by Kathy Kroeger, the Pac-12 runner-up. Oregon's Jordan Hasay, last year's regional champion, Pac-12 winner Katie Flood of Washington and WCC champ Tara Erdmann of LMU will also be a factor.

The NCAA championship race will be held Nov. 21 in Terre Haute.

Women's gymnastics

Stanford has signed Melissa Chuang and Taylor Rice to letters of intent, coach Kristen Smyth announced.

Chuang, a senior at Monta Vista High in Cupertino, is a three-time Junior Olympic qualifier out of Santa Clara's Airborne Gymnastics, the second-ranked gymnastics club in the country. Chuang, who is strongest on vault, balance beam, and floor exercise, placed 15th all-around and 10th on the beam at the Level 10 nationals this year. She is coached at Airborne by Liz Crandall and Justin Howell.

"She has a tremendous amount of power on vault, and tumbles well on floor, but it is on beam where she really shines," Smyth said. "She has many difficult skills in her beam routine and is one of the most consistent and mentally tough beam performers I've seen in a long time."

Rice, a senior at Green Valley High in Henderson, Nev., is a four-time Junior Olympic national qualifier, who trains at Gymcats under coaches Cassie Rice and Jill Preston. Rice is a two-time Nevada and Region 1 all-around Level 10 champion and has two top-10 national all-around finishes -- seventh in 2009 and sixth in 2010.

"Taylor has many outstanding qualities and is going to be a great collegiate gymnast," Smyth said. "She is a charismatic performer and dynamic competitor."

Chuang and Rice will join a Stanford program that has reached the NCAA regionals for 28 consecutive years and has reached the NCAA Super Six finals three of the past five seasons.

Stanford opens its season on Tuesday with the NorCal Quad Meet at Burnham Pavilion.

Women's volleyball

Rachel Williams recorded 20 kills and had 20 digs but No. 5 Stanford stumbled at Washington, losing a heartbreaking, 25-18, 25-27, 19-25, 25-22, 15-10 decision to the Huskies in a Pac-12 Conference match Friday night.

The Cardinal (13-5, 19-5) had a chance to close the gap at the top of the conference standings after shaking off a first set loss.

Stanford took sets two and three and was leading, 19-15, in the fourth set before things went bad.

Washington went on a 10-3 run to win the fourth set and then never trailed in winning the fifth set.

Three other players also reached double figures in kills, including Morgan Boukather, who had 10 kills and recorded a .455 hitting percentage in addition to seven blocks. Carly Wopat had 11 kills and seven blocks and Stephanie Browne recorded 10 kills on a .368 hitting percentage.

Stanford travels to Washington State for a Sunday match at 12:30 p.m.

The Cardinal has not lost more than five conference games in a season since 2000, and it's only happened twice in program history. The 1979 squad finished 6-6 in conference play, while Stanford was 10-8 in 2000.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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