Stanford gymnasts a big hit in upset over visiting Utah

No. 12 Stanford hit all 24 routines and six Cardinal gymnasts recorded collegiate bests Monday as the host Cardinal upset No. 4 Utah, 197.000-196.300, handing the Utes their first loss of the season.

In front of a crowd of over 3,000 fans in Maples Pavilion and a television audience on the Pac-12 Network, the Cardinal (12-1, 4-1 Pac-12) delivered an incredibly consistent performance, scoring 9.775 or higher in every routine.

The Cardinal kept Utah close through the first three rotations and delivered a strong floor performance in the final event to capitalize on a counted fall by the Utes on beam.

"We knew it was going to take a great effort to be in the meet with Utah," said Stanford head coach Kristen Smyth. "We knew if we could be close going into the third and last event, we had a shot to win. To finish the day strong with all of the pressure on us was nice to see."

Kristina Vaculik continued to shine in the all-around, picking up the individual victory with a 39.475. Vaculik punctuated the Cardinal's win with a collegiate-best 9.950 on floor in the anchor position to close the competition.

"She's still getting better and improving which is phenomenal," said Smyth. "The confidence the team has right now has a lot to do with her leadership."

Shona Morgan had a terrific competition and embodied the consistency delivered all afternoon by the Cardinal. Competing in the leadoff position in three events, Morgan tied for first on beam (9.850), tied her collegiate best on bars to place second (9.900) and tied her season best on floor to tie for fifth (9.875).

"She's first up for a reason," Smyth said. "She's aggressive and confident under pressure. She set the tone on three events and really shined today."

Stanford entered the final rotation on floor trailing Utah, 148.225-147.725, and knew it would need a big performance to pull out the victory.

The Cardinal delivered.

Stanford posted six scores of 9.800 or higher to finish with a 49.275 on the event and pass Utah for the victory.

Morgan led off with a 9.875 and was followed by a collegiate-best 9.825 performance by Jenna Frowein. Rachel Daum went 9.800 and Pauline Hanset scored 9.825 to close the gap on Utah's lead.

After two Utes gymnasts fell in the fourth and fifth positions, Stanford moved into first and needed one more hit routine to hold the lead for good.

Taylor Rice gave Stanford the score it needed with a 9.800 in the fifth position, and Vaculik left no doubt the Cardinal would be victorious, posting a 9.950 in the final performance of the day.

Stanford had a great meet on beam, claiming each of the top six spots. Morgan, Nicolette McNair and Amanda Spinner tied for the individual victory with scores of 9.850. Rebecca Wing, Rice and Vaculik tied for fourth, each posting a 9.825.

Four gymnasts tied or set collegiate bests on bars as Stanford tallied a season-best 49.425 in the event. Morgan opened with a 9.900 and was followed by a collegiate best from Rice who went 9.875.

Rice also had a solid day in the all-around, finishing with a 39.275.

Nicolette McNair tied her collegiate best (9.875) in the third position and was followed by a collegiate-best 9.875 performance by her sister Danielle McNair. Samantha Shapiro matched Morgan's team-best 9.900 to tie for second in the event.

Vaculik and Nicolette McNair led the way for the Cardinal on vault with scores of 9.850. It was the fifth consecutive meet McNair posted Stanford's top score.

Stanford improved to 2-0 against Utah at home with the previous victory coming in 1998.

"It's really exciting to host a team like Utah," said Smyth. "It's been a long time since they've been here and they set the standard for excellence in our conference and the nation. For us to be able to host them brings out the best in our athletes."

The road doesn't get any easier for the Cardinal moving forward, as Stanford will have a quick turnaround for its next meet when it travels to No. 9 UCLA on Saturday at 6 p.m.

— Stanford Athletics


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