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Women’s gymnastics shows grit, but fails to advance further in NCAA Championships

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Stanford women’s gymnastics returned to The Farm from the NCAA Championships as the tenth best team in the nation, a big accomplishment for a team that had barely maintained a spot in the top-20 all season. 

Ivana Hong. Photo by Rahim Ullah
Fifth-year senior Ivana Hong (above) was an important part of the team’s success in her final collegiate meet, scoring 9.8125 on bars and 9.7875 on floor. (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

The team took on No. 2 LSU, No. 4 Florida, No. 6 Georgia, No. 7 Auburn and No. 12 Minnesota in Fort Worth, Texas, on Friday, April 15, in the NCAA semifinals.

The Cardinal came in fourth in the group posting a 195.575 overall team score, which was outdone by Florida (197.475), LSU (197.3375), and Georgia (196.725). Stanford managed to beat out Auburn (195.100) and Minnesota (194.9875).

Coming in fourth placed Stanford out of the Super Six, which required a third place or better in the qualifying round. This would have been only the team’s eighth time participating in the Super Six in the past 14 years.

Despite missing out on its eighth visit, Stanford proved its resilience as it fought through some faulty performances, such as senior Taylor Rice’s missed routine on the bars. Overcoming this setback, the Cardinal were still able to garner a 49.025 team score. This team score was mostly due to sophomore Elizabeth Price’s outstanding 9.900 third place finish, fifth-year senior Ivana Hong and junior Nicolette McNair’s 9.8125, and freshman Dare Maxwell and junior Danielle McNair’s 9.750 scores.

“We started on bars, one of our strongest events and although we had a fall we were able to cover each other and finish the rotation really strong,” Price said. “And although we had to count a fall… the energy stayed really well and we were very confident going into the rest of our competition.”

Trouble on the bars was echoed in the beam, where Stanford missed its second and fifth routines, and ended with a 48.4750, placing them significantly behind four other teams. But Hong and Price shone and proved the Cardinal’s determination as they took ties for fourth in the event with 9.8875.

The Cardinal surmounted these obstacles, coming back to floor and hitting all six routines, earning a team score of 48.9250. This strong finish was led by Price, who earned ninth place for her 9.86265, followed by Hong’s 9.7875, senior Melissa Chuang and junior Haley Spector’s tie score of 9.775, junior Rachel Daum’s 9.7250 and senior Jenna Frowein’s 9.6500. Overall, the Cardinal persevered through the disappointments of the first two events, giving themselves a possibility to advance despite a rough start.  

“I’m really, really proud of this team,” Hong said. “We showed a lot of grit and guts and that’s what we came in planning to do.”

This resilience was cemented on the vault, where Stanford produced one of its top five scores of the season, coming in fourth. Unfortunately, Stanford’s 49.1500 did not send the Cardinal into third place, but earned them a respectable fourth place finish. Price netted yet another honor with a ninth place (9.900) for the event, ultimately placing fourth in the all-around. Nicolette McNair produced a 9.850, Hong came up with a 9.8125 and Danielle McNair earned a 9.800.

The Cardinal’s performance started on a weak note, but the team was able to fight its way back and end up fourth in the most competitive, high-stakes match of the season. Led by a vigorous senior class, Stanford rounded out a great season with an impressive finish.

With head coach Kristen Smyth, a strong freshman class and the ever-explosive Price leading the way, Stanford women’s gymnastics is well placed to improve on their tenth placed finish next year.

Contact Laura Sussman laura111 ‘at’ stanford.edu.