Sports

It's onward to the Super Six for Stanford women gymnasts

 

The No. 11 Stanford women's gymnastics team matched its second-highest score of the season with a 197.175 to finish third Friday in the semifinals of the NCAA championships at the Forth Worth Convention Center Arena and advance to Saturday's Super Six for the seventh time in program history, and the first in three years.

Six Stanford gymnasts combined for nine All-America honors, including four first team awards, as the Cardinal maintained its position among the top three throughout the competition.

"We started out really strong on bars and beam, and we still have room to improve on floor and vault," Stanford coach Kristen Smyth said. "I feel good about tomorrow. We have five seniors this year, so it's wonderful to get back to the Super Six for them. They've worked so hard and have been incredible leaders. I'm looking forward to being on the floor one last time with them."

Stanford finished third at the Pac-12 championships last month, behind Utah and UCLA. The third-ranked Utes and second-ranked Florida tied for the top spot of the morning session, each scoring a 197.475. The eighth-ranked Bruins finished sixth.

"We really try our best to manage our bodies and to be mentally, physically and emotionally ready at the end of the year," Smyth said. "This year was especially hard, so big shout out to my staff and the athletes that stayed confident in our plan and executed our plan."

The Cardinal scored its third-highest total in program history at any NCAA championship as it earned its most All-America honors since 2012. Redshirt junior Ivana Hong and senior Samantha Shapiro earned top honors then and again this year.

"We've come full circle. We were in the Super Six my freshman year, and nothing else replicates that feeling of making it in there and being in that big night," Hong said. "Just being able to do our gymnastics another night with this team is incredible."

Elizabeth Price claimed first team All-America honors on vault (9.950) and bars (9.950) finishing first and second in the events, respectively. Hong earned first team recognition on beam (9.900) with a first-place finish and tied for fifth on bars with a 9.925 to claim second-team honors. It is Hong's third and fourth All-America honors of her collegiate career.

Taylor Rice earned the first All-America first team award of her career with a 9.900 on floor, tying for fourth, and added a second-team honor with a seventh-place result in the all-around (39.275). She is a three-time All-American.

Price, Hong and Rice advance to Sunday's NCAA individual event finals in the events they earned first team honors.

Shapiro earned the third All-America award of her career on bars with a 9.925 to tie for fifth and receive second-team recognition. Nicolette McNair joined Shapiro on the bars second team with a 9.900 to place seventh and earn the first All-America honor of her collegiate career.

Rebecca Wing earned the first All-America award her career with a 9.875 on beam to tie for seventh.

Stanford recorded a season-best 49.575 on the bars, its first event. It is the third-best score in program history and highest since March 22, 2003 when the Cardinal scored 49.600 against Oklahoma.

Nicolette McNair set the tone with a 9.900 in the leadoff position. Price led the team with a 9.950, while Shapiro and Hong contributed scores of 9.925. Olympian Kristina Vaculik added a 9.875 and Rice earned a 9.850.

The Cardinal continued its momentum on beam with a 49.300, the team's third-highest score in the event this season. Hong provided the exclamation point in the event with a team-best 9.900 in the anchor position.

Wing got Stanford started strong on beam with a 9.875 in the leadoff spot and was followed by a pair of 9.850s by Nicolette McNair and Rice. Vaculik posted a 9.825 and Pauline Hanset notched a 9.775.

At the halfway point, Stanford led the field with a 98.875. Florida was second with a 98.750, followed by Utah (98.525), Michigan (98.475), Georgia (98.450) and UCLA (97.950).

The Cardinal cooled off briefly when it returned to floor after a long bye in the fourth rotation. After a missed routine in the second spot, Stanford reeled off four scores of 9.825 or higher to finish with a 49.250, the team's fourth highest score in the event on the season.

Rice punctuated the rotation with a team-best 9.900 in the anchor position. Price and Hanset earned scores of 9.850, while Shapiro and Haley Spector contributed results of 9.825.

Stanford entered the final rotation on vault holding a nine-tenths advantage on Georgia and needing a 48.900 to overtake Michigan, who had already completed its competition, to secure a spot in the Super Six.

The Cardinal delivered, hitting the vault with enough effort and performance to gain its spot in Saturday's finals.

Price led the Cardinal with a 9.950 and has recorded nine of the team's top 11 scores in the event this season.

Hong performed her first vault since the 2013 NCAA championships semifinals and was second among Stanford gymnasts with a 9.850. Nicolette McNair (9.775), Hanset (9.750) and Danielle McNair (9.725) also contributed solid scores.

Stanford pursues its first NCAA title Saturday beginning at 4 p.m. (PT).

— Palo Alto Online Sports/Stanford Athletics

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Just Win It All
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 17, 2015 at 10:41 pm

This year's team is good enough to win it all. It is nice to be in the elite 8. But just think how great it would be to finish FIRST. Go for first. There is no big difference between second and eighth place.


Like this comment
Posted by Sharon
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Apr 17, 2015 at 10:48 pm

Well, Stanford is in the final six. But you are right that there is no significant difference between second and (now) sixth. First place or bust.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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