Down by 25 thousandths heading into the final routine against No. 16 UCLA (2-5, 2-3 Pac-12), fifth-year Kyla Bryant took a deep breath and stepped onto the floor with the meet in her hands.
As Bryant finished her routine with a stuck landing on her no-hands double tuck, the Cardinal patiently waited on the sidelines, looking up at the scoreboard.
When the Cardinal gymnasts saw that Byrant tied her career-best of 9.975 on the floor exercise, they jumped with joy and excitement — No. 19 Stanford women’s gymnastics (1-7, 1-4 Pac-12) had clinched a victory over the Bruins by a score of 196.900-196.850.
This marks the Cardinal’s first victory over the Bruins since March 6, 2016.
“It starts in practice with being intentional and doing all the things that we want to do to be the best team we can be,” said head coach Tabitha Yim after the meet. “This week in practice, they were lights out, and I was really excited to see that work transition onto the competition floor.”
“We have worked so hard in the gym,” said freshman Brenna Neault. “It is really great to see all of our goals and the hard work that we have been putting in pay off.”
The Cardinal started out on the vault where junior Jade Chrobok opened with a career-best 9.750. Freshman Anapaula Gutierrez also earned a career-best 9.850 on her Yurchenko with one-and-a-half twists. Bryant closed out the rotation with a 9.825 to give Stanford a season-high team score of 48.975.
Stanford headed to the uneven bars next. All five Cardinal gymnasts earned scores of 9.850 or higher, and the career-bests kept flowing in this rotation. Fifth-year Taylor Lawson earned a career-best 9.875 for her efforts. Neault claimed the Cardinal’s second 9.900 of the season in the event, and Bryant matched her career-best of 9.950. The Cardinal’s 49.450 on the uneven bars was the highest score they have achieved since April 6, 2016 at the NCAA Regionals.
“I will commend assistant coach Vince [Smurro] as he has made such a huge impact on bars,” Yim said. “He has been very intentional about exactly what he wants to see, holding that expectation and motivating the girls at a high level.”
The balance beam was up next for Stanford. All Cardinal gymnasts scored 9.700 or higher with Bryant and Neault leading the way with a pair of 9.800’s. With some mistakes from the Bruins on the floor exercise, Stanford trailed by only 0.175 heading into the final rotation.
The floor exercise was highlighted by career-best across all five Cardinal gymnasts. Gutierrez opened up the rotation with a 9.900. Senior Madison Brunette earned a 9.875 to match her career-best, while Lawson and senior Morgan Hoang added a pair of 9.925s. Junior Addie Stonecipher earned a career-best 9.850, but her score was ultimately dropped after Bryant’s nearly flawless routine. The Cardinal earned 49.600 on the floor exercise to top the Bruins by five hundredths.
Yim credited assistant coach Alexandra Pintchouk for her work on the floor exercise.
“She has been working on all the little details on the floor from the performances to the faces to the landings,” Yim said of Pintchouk.
Next week will be a big week for the Cardinal with back-to-back quad meets. The Cardinal will travel to Fort Worth, Texas, to compete in the Metroplex Challenge against Pac-12 rival Washington, No. 12 Denver and No. 2 Oklahoma on Saturday at 4:45 p.m. PT.
Two days later at 2 p.m. PT, Stanford will be back in Maples Pavilion, competing against No. 18 BYU, No. 24 Boise State and Sacramento State.