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W. Gymnastics: No. 6 Stanford overcomes flu, tops Arizona

The flu may not have reached epidemic levels in California yet, but it has on the Stanford women’s gymnastics team. Even though roughly half the team is suffering from flu-like symptoms, the No. 6 Cardinal (6-0, 1-0 Pac-12) defeated a trio of tough opponents to take first place in a meet held at the University of Arizona on Saturday.

Stanford recorded a score of 196.025 to beat No. 19 Arizona (195.850), No. 18 Illinois (193.750) and San Jose State (192.55) for the team’s second quad meet win of the season.

The Cardinal has received points from many different sources thus far in the young season, and that trend continued Saturday night.

“I’m really proud of our team effort,” Stanford head coach Kristen Smyth said. “We had probably half the team dealing with the flu so I’m really proud of how the girls stepped up and competed so well.”

All-American Ashley Morgan paced the Cardinal with a third-place finish in the all-around competition. Although the senior was battling the flu[N1] , she competed in all four events and earned an all-around score of 39.125.

Stanford recorded the highest team score on three events—the uneven bars, the beam and the vault.

The Cardinal kicked off the meet with a dominant performance on the uneven bars. The team earned a cumulative score of 49.320—the team’s highest for any event this season. Kristina Vaculik, who competed for the Cardinal in 2011 before taking the 2012 season off to compete in the London Olympics, recorded a meet-high score of 9.925, while fellow sophomore Ivana Hong set a new personal record with a score of 9.900.

On the beam, junior All-American Shona Morgan earned a score of 9.875 to claim second place in the event. Hong, who was also a 2012 All-American, took third with a 9.850 score.

“We did a really good job, but there’s still room for improvement, and that’s really exciting,” Shona Morgan said.

Captain Nicole Dayton [N2] continued her impressive season in the vault. In last week’s meet, Dayton set a personal record of 9.950 on her way to being named Pac-12 Specialist of the Week. This time around, her score of 9.875 was good enough to earn the senior her second consecutive vault scoring title.

“Nicole Dayton was outstanding tonight,” Smyth said. “I think people are really recognizing her work and it’s nice to see her getting rewarded for it.”

On Saturday, freshman Taylor Rice made her collegiate debut in the vault. Rice recorded a score of 9.775 to tie fellow freshman Melissa Chuang for Stanford’s third-place score. Hong earned 9.825 points to round out the Cardinal’s scoring in the event.

Arizona took first place in the floor event with a score of 49.400. Stanford earned second with 48.675 points, led by Ashley Morgan’s score of 9.800.

This was the first Pac-12 matchup for Stanford this season. Although Arizona is traditionally a strong program, it had not beaten Stanford since March 25, 2005. With the win on Saturday, the Cardinal made it 18 straight victories over the Wildcats.

“I feel like we’re right on track,” Smyth said. “We are right where we want to be and I was proud of [the team’s] effort on the road to get the win and to make a good improvement on bars this week.”

The Cardinal will now try to recuperate before a dual meet at No. 11 Georgia on Jan. 21. Stanford returns to Pac-12 action on Jan. 26 against Cal.

“It was a great step,” Smyth said. “We’re looking forward to continuing to build.”