Gymnastics: Men, women battle in Berkeley

Feb. 15, 2012, 1:36 a.m.
Gymnastics: Men, women battle in Berkeley
Freshman Pauline Hanset helped the Cardinal to an early lead in its meet against California, earning a 9.850 on the floor exercise and her first collegiate victory. The Cardinal defeated Cal 196.175-194.725. (NICK SALAZAR/The Stanford Daily)

Last Sunday, both the men’s and women’s gymnastics squads traveled to the East Bay, seeking important victories in hostile territory. While the women’s team left Cal’s Haas Pavilion with a dominant win, ending a two-meet losing streak, the men returned to the Farm disappointed, falling to Cal and top-ranked Oklahoma.


Coming into the meet against Cal (4-3), the Stanford women’s gymnastics team (5-2) looked to end one streak while extending another. The Cardinal had lost two consecutive meets on the road to Pac-12 opponents–first at Oregon State and the following weekend at UCLA–and faced yet another hostile environment at Berkeley. However, the Card has had impressive success against Cal in recent history, going undefeated against the Golden Bears since 2000, and 34-1 dating back to 1996.


Stanford achieved on both counts, as strong performances from veterans and younger gymnasts alike helped the team come away with a 196.175-194.725 decision over rival Cal.


The Card took an early lead on the floor exercise, earning a total team score of 48.775, good enough for a 0.150-point lead. Freshman Pauline Hanset was especially strong, earning her first collegiate victory and scoring 9.850 in the event for the third time this year.


“It was nice to see all of her hard work pay off this weekend,” said head coach Kristen Smyth. “She performed a beautiful floor routine and was rewarded for her efforts.”


The Cardinal held a 0.500-point lead going into the third round, which was extended by junior Nicole Dayton’s strong 9.875 on vault. Dayton won the event for Stanford, and the team put up a total score of 48.950 in the event.


Stanford excelled on the bars, putting up a season-best score of 49.400. Each of Stanford’s gymnasts scored a 9.800 or higher, highlighted by senior Nicole Pechanec, who scored a 9.925. Although Pechanec competed in just one event on Sunday rather than her usual four, the 9.925 was a personal best and a team-high in the uneven bars for the season.


With a commanding 1.125-point lead going into the final round, the Cardinal looked to seal up the victory with a solid round on the beam and did so with a team score of 49.050. Sophomore Shona Morgan and freshman Ivana Hong both earned impressive scores of 9.900 to win the event. The victory also marked the first collegiate win for Hong, who Smyth described as “one of the best in the country on balance beam.”


Junior Ashley Morgan took home her first all-around victory of the season with a score of 39.175, while sophomore captain Amanda Spinner made her official collegiate debut after being sidelined for two years by injury with a 9.750 on beam.


This Saturday, Stanford will compete against Brown and Bridgeport at the Metroplex Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas.


The No. 5 Stanford men’s gymnastics team faced a familiar opponent in No. 7 Cal (4-3), as Sunday was the fourth time the two teams have met this season. Also at the meet were the No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners (8-1), marking the first time the two teams faced each other this season.


Competing without freshman Brian Knott, who is out for the season due to injury, the Cardinal (4-3) faced a daunting task: squaring off against two of the nation’s premier programs with a depleted roster. After beating Cal in its last two meetings this season, Stanford (343.700) placed third in Sunday’s meet behind both the Sooners (351.600) and the Golden Bears (349.400).


After two rounds, the Card was in second place behind Oklahoma. However, struggles on the pommel horse prevented the Cardinal from decreasing the deficit, instead dropping the team to third place, where it would stay for the rest of the afternoon.


Stanford did defend its No. 1 ranking in vault with a strong team score of 58.900, led by junior Eddie Penev (15.500), redshirt freshman Sean Senters (15.100) and sophomore Cale Robinson (14.900). Both Penev and Robinson posted season-high scores in the event.


The Cardinal also put together its best performance on high bar for the season, posting a team score of 57.800. Redshirt sophomore Paul Hichwa led the team in the event with a 14.800, his best high bar score on the season, while Penev was close behind with a 14.700. Another highlight for the Cardinal was redshirt junior Jordan Nolff, who captured the title in rings with a 15.300.


As a whole, the team struggled to compete at its potential, scoring 4.700 points lower than its last meet. However, Stanford will have an opportunity to quickly reverse the trend as it faces Cal yet again, as well as the Japanese College All-Stars, at Burnham Pavilion on Saturday evening at 7 p.m.

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