By Arman Kassam
No. 25 Stanford women’s gymnastics heads out to Oregon today for the NCAA Corvallis Regionals, a three-day affair with nine of the best teams in the nation. Stanford most recently clinched 195.925 points after a series of clutch performances in the Pac-12 Championships, but came up short at 7th place.
Stanford is best described as a giant among titans. Despite earning their second-highest point total of the season against No. 2 UCLA back in early March, the Bruins responded with their best showing of the year. The 196.275 – 198.325 result may at first demonstrate a significant Cardinal loss, but hides quite a bit. Sophomore standout Kyla Bryant landed a career-high of 9.900 on the balance beam, sophomore Rachael Flam secured a career-high of 9.900 on the floor, junior Aleeza Yu earned her career-high of 9.875 on bars and freshman Wesley Stephenson matched her career-best of 9.875 on beam.
Bryant went on to take her seventh all-around title of the season having pocketed 39.300 points.
“We are getting a lot more consistent,” said head coach Tabitha Yim. “We need to improve our landings and have a small margin of error, but we’re getting there.”
And the Cardinal did end up getting there two weeks later at the Pac-12 Championships. Flam, after producing a personal record on the floor against the Bruins, also secured a season-best 9.900 on vault. Bryant followed up with a career-best of 9.875 on vault and a career-best 39.525 points all-around.
Freshman Morgan Hoang tied her career-high on the floor with 9.875 and senior Taryn Fitzgerald reproduced her career-best on beam with 9.850. Fitzgerald was recently selected to the second Pac-12 All-Academic team, an honor that is only awarded to select student athletes who have a minimum 3.0 grade point average and compete in at least 50 percent of the season. The senior maintains a 3.73 GPA and was a finalist for the Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the year; Bryant, Yu, Flam, junior Kaylee Cole and senior Hailee Hoffman received honorable mentions.
Meanwhile, though the Cardinal unquestionably delivered one of their best performances of the season, they were still edged out by No. 18 Washington and No. 21 Arizona State, the latter of which claimed first place in the first session. Stanford earned 49.250 on vault, 49.200 on bars, 48.425 on beam and 49.250 on floor for a total of 195.925. They landed in seventh place despite all the record-breaking and record-matching.
“I feel a great sense of pride for the way people stepped up,” Yim said. “I think we are leaving the meet with fire and hunger to make sure we do not let go of another opportunity like that.”
The Cardinal have secured their 36th consecutive bid to the NCAA regionals, having won the competition in 1999, 2002, 2004, 2007 and 2016. The Cardinal also boasts having individual champions at the NCAA regionals every year since 2012.
36 of the best teams in the country gained regional bids, and nine teams will compete at four sites – Baton Rouge, Ann Arbor, Athens, and Corvallis. Stanford needs to break into the top two at Corvallis in order to earn a bid for the national tournament at Fort Worth, Texas, which will take place April 19 – 20.
Stanford’s last national champion was the virtuoso Elizabeth Price, who rocked the competition with a 2015 national title on vault and a 2018 national title on bars. The 19-time All-American graduated last year with a degree in Biomechanical Engineering.
The fun, festivities and flips at the NCAA regionals begin today, April 4, 2019, at 3 p.m. in Corvallis.
Contact Arman Kassam at armank ‘at’ stanford.edu.