In its final regular season meet, the No. 10 Stanford women’s gymnastics team fell short in its bid to upset the No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners. The Cardinal (11-4, 5-2 Pac-12) placed second in the tri-meet with a score of 196.000, finishing ahead of the unranked North Carolina Tar Heels (195.300), but well behind the Sooners (197.525). It would have required a flawless meet for the team to compete with the Sooners—Oklahoma’s meet score was 0.225 points above Stanford’s season-high—but instead the Cardinal turned in its second-lowest score of the season.
Individually, Stanford senior Ashley Morgan captured her fifth all-around victory of the year, but it was not enough to pull the Cardinal past the Sooners.
The Cardinal had a rough first round, and found itself playing from behind the entire afternoon.
The beam is generally one of the team’s strongest events—Stanford came into Sunday’s meet ranked sixth in the nation on beam with an average score of 49.160 points, having won the event 12 of 13 opportunities coming into the meet. On Sunday, however, the Cardinal suffered a couple of unusual slip-ups, leading to a team-score of just 48.775, tied for its worst beam score of the year.
Stanford sophomore Ivana Hong’s score of 9.875 earned her third place in the event, but the Cardinal found itself trailing the Sooners by 0.625 points and the Tar Heels by 0.375 points after the first round.
In its next event, the floor, Stanford did improve, but not by much—the team’s score of 48.875 was its worst floor score since Jan. 21. Stanford was led by senior Ashley Morgan, who scored a 9.900 in the event to rebound from a slight slip-up in the first round and tie for second place in the event.
The team’s next highest score was 9.800, recorded by both junior Shona Morgan and freshman Taylor Rice.
“Taylor had a dynamite meet,” Stanford head coach Kristen Smyth told GoStanford.com. “She’s improving each week, which is exciting to see.”
Stanford’s 48.875 score on the floor was below its average score of 49.090 points, and allowed Oklahoma to extend its lead to 1.225 points after a very strong performance on uneven bars, while North Carolina maintained a 0.125 lead over the Card going into the third round.
The Cardinal would put together a much stronger last two rounds, beginning with a 49.200 on vault. Stanford looked to senior Nicole Dayton, who has been one of Stanford’s best competitors in the event his season. Dayton didn’t disappoint, as she posted a 9.900 to lead the team and earn a tie for second place individually.
Four of her teammates also tallied at least 9.800 points, with Morgan adding a 9.850 score and Rice recording a 9.825. With that effort, Stanford managed to slide into second place with a 0.200-point lead over the Tar Heels. However, the Sooners continued to shine, as it posted a 49.275 on beam to cushion their lead going into the final round.
Stanford wrapped up the afternoon on the uneven bars looking to ensure at least a second-place finish. The Cardinal scored a 49.150 to do just that, besting the Tar Heels by 0.500 points, but falling to the Sooners by 0.225 points. Hong led the way once again for Stanford, scoring a 9.875 to tie for fourth place behind three Sooners. Morgan added support with her 9.850 score of the night.
Although Stanford has the potential to pull of an upset, on this night, it was shown how a top team like the Sooners will capitalize on its mistakes. The Cardinal next competes on March 23, as it enters the playoff season with the Pac-12 Championships.
Contact Connor Scherer at csherer ‘at’ stanford.edu.