For the first time since 2009, Stanford women’s gymnastics (6-11) will play host to the Pac-12 Conference Championships. Stanford will be joined by No. 16 Cal (6-4), Arizona (6-7) and Arizona State (1-8) in the first of two sessions on Saturday at 1 p.m. No. 3 UCLA (9-2), No. 5 Utah (8-2), No. 10 Oregon State (9-2) and No. 15 Washington (6-8) will follow in session two at 6 p.m.
The Cardinal have finished fourth or higher in 15 of the past 16 conference championships, a trend that the team hopes to continue.
“We’ve put in work all through the season,” said reigning Pac-12 Gymnast of the Year Elizabeth Price. “We’ve been doing a lot of routines in practice and have been working on mental toughness in high pressure situations that come with the Pac-12s and postseason. Success will come down to consistency and being in the right mindset to put out the best routines.”
A small team with only 12 gymnasts, the Cardinal have fought through injuries throughout the season and relied on every athlete in competition.
“We’re able to step up when we need to,” said senior co-captain Nicolette McNair. “Everyone on the team is willing to put themselves in the lineup to fight for the rest of the team.”
Stanford has relied particularly on a talented class of freshmen. Kaylee Cole, Ashley Tai and Aleeza Yu have contributed routines in each competition this year. Cole has performed in at least three of four events in every meet, gaining crucial collegiate experience. Tai is a consistent beam worker, where she tied for first place with a 9.875 last weekend. Yu is a powerhouse on vault and bars, earning scores of 9.750 or better in all but one performance this season.
“The freshmen are providing multiple routines that we really need in competition. We’ve definitely had to rely a lot on them this year and they’ve been doing a great job,” commented Price.
Price has impressed in her junior season. She routinely earns scores of 9.900 or higher on vault, bars and floor and received two Pac-12 Specialist of the Week honors for her work in competition.
“I’d say that I’ve had a pretty great season in the fact that I’ve been relatively consistent through all of the routines I’ve competed,” said Price. “I’m focussing on staying calm, confident and consistent throughout the week so that I can treat the Pac-12s as just another competition.”
This will be the first Pac-12 conference championships at home for all of the gymnasts. The team has won two of three meets at Maples Pavilion this season.
McNair mentioned how meaningful competing this weekend at home will be:
“We’re stoked. Especially for it being my senior year, having Pac-12s at home is huge. It’s like a second senior meet. It’s so exciting because we’ve never had a meet this big at home. Having a home crowd and family watching will be really fun.”