By Amita Gondi
For the 36th consecutive year, the Stanford women’s gymnastics team was selected for postseason competition and will travel to Oregon for the NCAA Corvallis Regionals, April 4-6.
March 10 was the last time we saw the No. 24 Stanford women’s gymnastics in action when they went head to head against No. 2 UCLA on the Bruins’ home turf in Los Angeles, California. The Cardinal posted its second highest point total this season but still came up incredibly short as the Bruins won 198.325-196.275.
Two weeks later, the Cardinal women traveled to the Maverick Center in West Valley City, Utah to compete at the Pac-12 Championships. It would be wrong to assume that the two weeks in between was much of a respite with this group of student-athletes cramming in their Dead Week and finals while remaining in tiptop shape. However, the seventh-seeded Cardinal were unfazed and came into the championships all guns blazing.
In the first session, the Cardinal faced Washington, Arizona State and Arizona. The Cardinal started fast on floor, vault and bars with exciting routines and clutch performances throughout the lineup. They fast-tracked their way onto the path to success and glory. However, Arizona State and Washington had other plans for the Cardinal women as they edged passed Stanford in the final event on the beam.
In the second session, the Bruins, who entered as the favorites in the meet, overtook Utah, Oregon State and Cal to successfully defend their team title.
Several Cardinal women had standout performances. Sophomore Rachael Flam produced a season-best 9.900 on vault, while sophomore Kyla Bryant matched her career-best with 9.875 as they finished first and second in the session. Flam earned a share of third overall, while Bryant tied for eighth in vault and all-around, collecting a career-best 39.525 in the latter.
Another big name on the block is freshman Morgan Hoang, who tallied 9.875 on floor to reach her career-high. Senior Taryn Fitzgerald also came up big by equaling her career-best total of 9.850 on beam in the final event and garnered a share of second.
Freshman Grace Waguespack matched her best collegiate score on bars with 9.875, and sophomore Taylor Lawson tied her career-high with 9.800.
At the end of the day, it came down to the Cardinal’s mental strength and grit to stay fired up and hungry right until the end of the championship. The Cardinal had a little slump towards the end with the beam event to finish seventh in the Pac-12, qualifying for regionals.
Participating alongside the Cardinal in Corvallis are host Oregon State, Denver, Boise State, Washington, Southern Utah, Iowa and Arizona.
In total, 36 teams earned regional bids and will compete at four sites. Each location hosts nine teams, three all-around competitors and four specialists. The top two teams and the top all-around competitor who are not members of an advancing team all qualify for the NCAA Championships, April 19-20 in Fort Worth, Texas.
Away from the floor, six Stanford gymnasts were recognized on the Pac-12 All-Academic teams. Senior Taryn Fitzgerald was named to the second team, while sophomores Kyla Bryant and Rachael Flam, juniors Aleeza Yu and Kaylee Cole, and senior Hailee Hoffman all earned honorable mention.
The road to the NCAA Championships continues April 4-6 in Corvallis.
Contact Amita Gondi at agondi ‘at’ stanford.edu.