Stanford women rally to top No. 15 Georgia in gymnastics


The nationally No. 22-ranked Stanford women's gymnastics team completed a comeback upset victory at No. 15 Georgia in the final routine Monday, defeating the Bulldogs 195.875-195.750 in Athens, Ga.

Tied at 195.700 in the final rotation with one performance remaining for each team, Melissa Chuang stepped to the beam and delivered a 9.900 to boost Stanford's score to 195.875 and secure the victory for the Cardinal.

Melissa Chuang
"We're so happy to have Melissa back on three events," said Stanford head coach Kristen Smyth. "She showed veteran leadership in the anchor spot on beam, scoring a career-high."

Stanford (4-1, 0-1 Pac-12) trailed through the first half of the competition against the Bulldogs (1-2) but continued its focus on hitting routines. The Cardinal's resiliency paid off in the third rotation when it took a 146.675-146.450 lead after four-of-six Georgia gymnasts missed their routines on beam and five Stanford gymnasts scored 9.700 or higher on floor.

The Cardinal completed the comeback win with its strongest showing in an event on the day with a 49.200 on beam. Chuang and Ivana Hong earned 9.900's and every Stanford gymnast scored 9.725 or higher in the event.

"It was a great team effort," said Smyth. "I'm proud of the way my team fought the entire meet. It's not easy to finish on balance beam in that environment, in front of 10,000 people and compete one at a time."

Four Stanford gymnasts combined for six top-three finishes on the day, while Elizabeth Price and Taylor Rice claimed the top two spots in the all-around with scores of 39.425 and 39.200, respectively.

Price continued her hot start to the year, tying for second on bars (9.900), and placing third on floor (9.875) and fourth on vault (9.875). She has scored 9.850 or higher in seven-of-eight performances this season.

Rice provided consistent performances throughout the meet, highlighted by a third-place finish on beam with a 9.850. Hong and Chuang tied for the individual victories on beam with scores of 9.900.

The Cardinal was consistent throughout the competition, scoring 9.700 or higher in 21 of 24 performances.

Stanford got off to a quality start on bars with a 49.050, led by a Price who posted a 9.900. Price's routine was clutch, coming after a missed routine in the position before her. It is the second consecutive week Price scored 9.900 on bars.

Rice produced a solid performance on bars to earn a 9.825 and Nicolette McNair continued her consistency this season with a 9.800. McNair finished the day with three scores of 9.725 or higher.

Stanford opened vault with consistent performances by Danielle McNair and Rice, earning scores of 9.775. Nicolette McNair followed with a 9.800 and Price produced Stanford's top score of 9.875.

Stanford finished with a 48.850 and trailed Georgia by nearly a full point at the midway point of the meet, 98.850-97.875.

The Cardinal remained focused on consistently hitting its routines and saw its efforts pay off during the third rotation on floor. Five-of-six gymnasts scored 9.700 or higher, led by Price who continued her strong day with a 9.875.

Georgia had difficulties on beam with four-of-six gymnasts missing their routines and finished with a 47.600. The Bulldogs' troubles on beam and Stanford's consistency gave the Cardinal a 146.675-146.450 lead entering the final rotation.

Stanford fed off the momentum from the third rotation to produce its best showing on an individual event. Nicolette McNair led off with a 9.725 and was followed by freshman Taryn Fitzgerald who went 9.775.

Rice kept the momentum going with a 9.850. Hong stepped to the beam in the fourth position and executed a great routine for a meet-high 9.900. Price added to Stanford's score with a 9.775.

Tied at 195.700 apiece with one routine per team to go, Chuang delivered the second beam performance of her career to tie Hong for the event title with a 9.900 and secure the win for the Cardinal.

It is the second consecutive victory for the Cardinal against Georgia after earning a 197.175-196.600 decision at the 2015 NCAA Championships Semifinals and the first win for the Cardinal in Athens.

"We have lots of room to improve and will continue to get healthy and add difficulty," said Smyth. "We took a step in the right direction today."

Stanford will look to continue its momentum when it opens its home season Sunday at 2 p.m. in Burnham Pavilion against No. 11 California and San Jose State.

— Stanford Athletics

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