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NCAA Championships Bound
Courtesy: Stanford Athletics  
Release: 04/04/2015

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Stanford finished second at the NCAA Morgantown Regional with a 197.000 team score Saturday to earn a spot at the NCAA Championships.

The Cardinal returns to the NCAA Championships for the eighth time in the past nine years and 15th time in program history.

Stanford will be joined at the national finals by Florida, which scored 197.475 to place first in the Morgantown Regional. The Cardinal finished ahead of third-place Illinois (196.675), Arkansas (196.500), West Virginia (195.650) and New Hampshire (194.825).

“I’m extremely proud of the resiliency, grit and fight our team competed with tonight – they really showed a lot of heart,” said Stanford head coach Kristen Smyth. “They went out there with confidence and competed with big gymnastics and big routines.”

Ivana Hong had a great night, claiming the NCAA Morgantown Regional beam title with a career-best 9.950 and tying for third on bars with a 9.900. She has earned four of Stanford’s top-five scores on beam this season.

Taylor Rice tied for second on vault with a career-high 9.950 and placed third on floor with a 9.900. She added a 9.825 on beam. Rice has hit 91 percent (40-of-44) of her routines this season.

“Taylor had a spectacular meet,” said Smyth. “She’s been consistent and solid all year. We knew we’d have to be lights out on vault to qualify and she delivered with an outstanding vault to score a career high.”

Pauline Hanset provided leadership and big scores, tying for third on beam with a career-best 9.900 and fourth on floor (9.875).

“Pauline’s beam routine was outstanding and the passion and joy she competes with is contagious,” said Smyth. “She’s a leader on the team and she’s so deserving of her accomplishments.”

Stanford registered a meet-best 49.225 on beam and earned the second-highest score on vault (49.375) and floor (49.225). Seven Cardinal combined for 10 top-10 finishes.

The Cardinal was forced to battle through illnesses and injuries early in the season but is the healthiest it has been all year entering postseason competition and has now scored above its season average in each of the past four meets.

“They’ve gotten stronger and tighter as a group because of what we went through this year and it has helped build the team’s strength in competition,” said Smyth. “I’m excited for the next step, the best is yet to come. We still have upgrades to add and we keep elevating our performances.”

Stanford faced adversity immediately with its first gymnast suffering a fall on bars in the leadoff position. However, the Cardinal did not panic and showed its resiliency, hitting each of the remaining 23 routines.

Hong led Stanford with a 9.900 in the anchor position to officially eliminate a fall by another gymnast earlier in the rotation. Samantha Shapiro hit her 11th consecutive bars routine this season to earn a 9.850. Nicolette McNair also had a nice showing in the event with a 9.800.

The Cardinal capitalized on the momentum built on bars in its next event on beam, producing a meet-best 49.375. Hong again paced Stanford, this time with a career-best 9.950. Hanset generated a career-best 9.900, while Rebecca Wing and McNair contributed scores of 9.850. Rice and Kristina Vaculik also had quality showings, earning scores of 9.825.

Rice showcased her All-American form on floor with a team-best 9.900 to place third overall. Hanset (9.875) and Vaculik (9.850) had strong showings, while Jenna Frowein and Haley Spector did well to contribute scores of 9.800.

The Cardinal entered its final rotation on vault with a .150 lead on third-place Illinois and needed a strong showing to secure its spot at the NCAA Championships.

Stanford delivered.

Hanset set the tone with a 9.825 in the leadoff position and was followed by strong showings from Danielle McNair (9.800) and Vaculik (9.825).

Rice provided the highlight of the rotation with a big vault and nearly flawless landing to earn a career-high 9.950. Nicolette McNair followed with a 9.850 and Elizabeth Price capped the night with a 9.925 to tie for fifth and send Stanford to the national finals.

Smyth added that a main factor in the team’s success and consistent excellence to the hard work and commitment of all of the gymnasts who have come through the program and her staff of associate head coach Chris Swircek and assistant coach Tabitha Yim.

“We’ve been fortunate to have kids who want to work hard and take the program farther than Stanford has ever been,” said Smyth. “I have a great staff with Chris and Tabitha, their contributions and continuity have been important to the team’s success. There’s a certain level of commitment and love from the staff that helps build the legacy of this program.”

“And as a whole, we’re still hungry for more.”

The Cardinal will have next weekend off before traveling to Fort Worth, Texas, for the NCAA Championships April 17-19.



Cardinal AXEcess

Cardinal AXEcess