Women gymnasts move past Bears, ready for ASU
By Justina Grayman The Stanford Daily

Stanford, CA (CSTV U-WIRE) -- How many unpointed toes, misses on bars, falls on floor and slips on beam can allow a team to win by over three points? The answer, as California found out Friday night, is far too many.

Stanford trumped the No. 35 Golden Bears 195.925-192.150 in Bears' territory, as then-No. 13 Cardinal dominated the meet. Stanford earned the top two places in every event and the top three in vault and floor.

"The team showed signs of greatness," head coach Kristen Smyth said. "It was the first great team effort."

That Stanford won uneven bars was no big surprise, but the team struggled on its first rotation, enduring three misses. Sophomore Liz Tricase, undefeated in bars this season, confirmed her consistency in the event with a huge 9.925 in the event.

"I think one thing we can try to improve on is building up our hit routines," said Tricase. "A lot times we'll start out strong, then we have a miss or break in the lineup."

Stanford sophomore Tabitha Yim and Cal freshman Lydia Williams shared the bars runner-up position (9.8). Cal's Joanna Bennett was not far behind with a career-high 9.775.

Vault was the turning-point of the meet.

Senior Natalie began the rotation with a stuck layout yurchenko full. Four of the six competing gymnasts stuck their vault landings but senior Glyn Sweets and sophomore Alex Pintchouk earned second (9.9) and third place (9.875), respectively, for the Cardinal. Tricase's 9.95 was strong enough to earn her the vault title, and vault turned out to be the meet's turning point. After this event, the mood was intense.

"You could just feel the energy building," Smyth said

Stanford's floor exercise lineup was highlighted by freshman Nicole Ourada, who performed a full-in to clinch victory with a career-best of 9.9.

Stanford's Tricase - who was competing for the first time this season on floor - and Yim both scored 9.875 to tie for second. Pintchouk performed her routine with new first and last passes.


Foley, a usual in the Cardinal balance beam lineup, was absent due to soreness in her feet, but freshman Heather Purnell set a positive tone. Ultimately, though, Yim came out on top with her first win of the night (9.875).

Ourada earned second on beam with another career-best of 9.825 and a challenging back handspring-layout-layout series.

The all-around was close within the Cardinal squad. Yim scored only .025 points above Ourada to win the all-around competition; 39.3-39.275. Yim, however, had no praise for her all-around performance.

"I don't focus much on all-around performances," she said. "We got the best team score we've had all year, and I was really happy about that."

Cal's Kelley scored 38.55 to place third in the all-around while teammate Siobhan Luce had a season-high score of 38.5.

Meanwhile, Stanford's new team-high had positive implications for the squad.

"It confirmed to our team that we can reach our performance goals," Smith said. "We're a formidable team against anybody."

Stanford will need a similarly high level of performance this weekend, as it clashes with the league leaders. No. 10 Arizona State's young squad has proven to be a fast-learning bunch, jumping from a first meet total of 193.15 to a high of 196.1 last Friday against Utah. The team ranks first in the Pac-10.

Stanford, on the other hand, is a veteran squad that ranks third in the conference. Depth is also a factor on Stanford's side. Sophomore Stephanie Gentry and sophomore Lauren Elmore look to come back within the next few weeks, and freshman Heather Purnell (recovering from knee injury) is also near-ready to add more events to her performance.

"Everyone is going to be sore, but we're doing a good job of trying to manage the girls' bodies," Symth said.

Stanford is ranked higher than ASU in vault and bars and lower in beam and floor but the differences in averages are slim - with the exception of beam, where Stanford will have to surprise this top-ranked team to take the event.

The Sun Devils' all-around lineup has also been more successful than the Cardinal's. Despite the tall odds, Stanford believes the outcome is within its control.

"Our biggest problem is not performing the way we do in practice," Sweets said. "We've logged the numbers and it's just a matter of doing that in meets."

(C) 2006 The Stanford Daily via CSTV U-WIRE

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