Traveling for the first time this season, the Stanford women’s gymnastics team suffered its first loss against the No. 10 Oregon State Beavers on Friday. Oregon State, the defending Pac-10 champions, pulled out a 196.800-194.525 win over the No. 12 Cardinal, extending its winning streak over the Cardinal to three, including meets last season.
Starting on the uneven bars, Stanford scored a 48.875, led by a pair of 9.850’s by junior Ashley Morgan and sophomore Shona Morgan. But Oregon State put up a season-high 48.975 to gain a one-tenth lead going into the second round.
The Cardinal put up a 48.950 on vault in the second round, highlighted by a 9.900 by junior Nicole Dayton, who was making a return from injury after missing last week’s meet against Washington.
“Having Nicole Dayton back in the lineup was huge. She anchors our vault and leads off on bars and floor. It was great to have her stability in the lineup,” said head coach Kristen Smyth.
Ashley Morgan scored an impressive 9.850 to add on, but the Beavers were still able to extend their lead to 98.225-97.825, thanks in part to a 9.875 by Leslie Mak, defending Pac-10 Gymnast of the Year, on the bars.
Ashley Morgan posted another 9.850 on the floor, her third 9.850 on the day, to help the Cardinal post a team score of 48.750. But, as was a common trend throughout the meet, the Beavers were just a little bit better, as they extended their lead to 0.900 going into the fourth and final round. It would take a very strong round on the beam for Stanford to overcome the deficit in the last round.
However, the Cardinal was unable to put together its best round on the beam, scoring just a 47.950, its worst score in an event all season. The team struggled on the beam, falling three times throughout the event.
“Obviously I didn’t prepare the team on the balance beam well enough. We’re going to have to have a lot more repetitions and a lot more numbers,” Smyth said. She added that “there’s no greater pressure than that type of atmosphere,” but that the team should be able to handle, and be excited for, that kind of moment.
Senior Alyssa Brown was able to put up Stanford’s season-high score of 9.925 on the beam. Smyth, however, was not surprised by Brown’s performance: “Alyssa, you expect that from our senior leader. That’s who she is.”
Stanford will continue its five-game Pac-12 road streak on Sunday at UCLA.
Facing California for the third time in a row to start its season, the No. 6 Stanford men’s gymnastics team looked to take control of the season series Saturday night in the Stanford Open. The Cardinal lost to the Bears by 6.100 points at Berkeley to open its season, but was able to come away with a 4.750-point victory last Saturday at Burnham Pavilion to tie the season series. Thus, Saturday’s meet against No. 5 Cal, No. 9 Nebraska and Washington was an important one to establish the Cardinal as the team to fear in the Pac-12.
Stanford was able to do just that, as it came away with a total team score of 348.400, its highest score of the season, to beat Cal (339.000), Nebraska (332.600) and Washington (251.200) and improve its record to 4-1. The Cardinal never trailed throughout the entire match.
Key to Stanford’s sweep was junior Eddie Penev, who was the all-around winner of the meet for the third time in a row to open the season. While many considered his performance in last week’s meet to be the best of his career, Penev bettered that with a career-high 89.200 on Sunday, including personal-best scores in floor exercise (16.200), still rings (14.500) and parallel bars (15.000).
The Cardinal’s lack of depth, one of the main reasons cited by the coaching staff after the loss at Berkeley, did not appear to affect Stanford much in Saturday’s meet. Prior to the match, head coach Thom Glielmi claimed that the team was able to handle the extra pressure associated with this lack of depth, and his gymnasts agreed. While Penev mentioned that there was definitely added pressure, he went on to say that “it doesn’t change the gymnastics,” in that they all still have to go out and execute the routine just as they would anyway.
Freshman Brian Knott, who finished third overall for the third straight meet, mentioned that this added pressure could even help the team: “It forces you to do better; it adds some more incentive to do well.”
Stanford has now improved its total score for each of the first three meets and will look to continue this trend as the team next competes on Feb. 12 at Cal. This week, several individual gymnasts will take part in the Winter Cup Challenge in Las Vegas.