This article is part of a running series The Daily sports staff will be publishing on Stanford sports teams.
For the Stanford women’s gymnastics team, the 2019 season was one of major strides. The season culminated in a final ranking of No. 22 in the country. With 11 underclassmen on a team of 17, the Cardinal demonstrated both the progress and potential of the Stanford program under second-year Head Coach Tabitha Yim.
Stanford opened the season with strong victory at the NorCal Classic, aided by impressive performances by sophomore Kyla Bryant. Bryant soared to first place finishes in every event, tying for top honors on floor and vault— scoring 9.900 and 9.825, respectively— and capturing the title on beam (9.900) and uneven bars (9.825). Also off to a promising start was junior Kaylee Cole, who walked away with her own collection of top-five finishes in the form of a third place on vault (9.775) and a fifth place on floor (9.775).
One early season win was not enough to satisfy the Cardinal, however, and the team went on to earn its second victory of the season at the Sacramento Tri-Meet. Once again, Bryant excelled and picked up another first place on the uneven bars (9.850) and all-around (39.175). Opting to demonstrate its depth, the Cardinal grabbed titles on beam with senior Taryn Fitzgerald’s 9.850, on vault with sophomore Rachael Flam earning a 9.850 and on floor with Morgan Hoang sharing first (9.875). Edging out Sacramento State and Seattle Pacific 194.650 to 189.950 and 189.825, respectively, Stanford readied itself for the Pac-12 season that began on January 21.
Despite falling to its first four Pac-12 opponents — Cal, UCLA, Washington and Arizona State — the Cardinal continued to showcase the capabilities of its young squad. Flam secured a second place finish on beam and all around (39.150) against Cal, freshman Wesley Stephenson tied for second on beam (9.825) while battling the Huskies, and freshman Grace Waguespack took home a third place on bars with a career-high 9.875.
No. 23 Stanford was tested by one of its highest ranked opponent of the season — No. 4 Utah — on February 17 during the last meet at Maples Pavilion for Fitzgerald and fellow seniors Hailee Hoffman and Nicole Hoffman. Unable to capitalize on H. Hoffman’s career high on floor (9.875), N. Hoffman’s 9.825 career best on beam and Fitzgerald’s season best on vault (9.800), the Cardinal fell to the Utes 197.125-195.800.
Still, the strides continued to be made by the young Cardinal squad as demonstrated when the women’s team acquired their first Pac-12 victory over No. 24 Arizona, winning every routine. Unfortunately for Stanford, the progress was not quite enough to carry Stanford past No. 2 UCLA in the final regular season meet, though standout Bryant put her talents on display in front of the 12,905 fans in attendance fought her way to her seventh all-around title of the season.
When the Pac-12 championships arrived on March 23, the Cardinal was unable to keep up and sank to a seventh place finish with a final score of 195.925 — though career highs from Hoang, Bryant and sophomore Taylor Lawson hinted at increasing success from Stanford in the coming seasons.
To add to the team’s many accomplishments of the season, six gymnasts — Fitzgerald, Bryant, Cole, Flam, H. Hoffman and Aleeza Yu — earned Pac-12 All-Academic honors.
Contact Savanna Stewart at savnstew ‘at’ stanford.edu.