Women’s gymnastics takes third at Texas Metroplex Challenge

Feb. 20, 2022, 9:13 p.m.

A week after upsetting then-No. 16 UCLA, No. 19 Stanford women’s gymnastics (3-7, 2-4 Pac-12) entered Fort Worth, Texas with a lot to prove at the Metroplex Challenge. Taking on No. 3 Oklahoma (10-1, 2-0 Big 12), No. 12 Denver (5-9, 1-3 Big 12) and Washington (4-5, 2-3 Pac-12), the Cardinal bounced back from an early deficit to place third with a score of 195.450. 

Stanford began the meet slowly, scoring 48.450 on the balance beam, in comparison to Oklahoma’s season-high of 49.550. Senior Wesley Stephenson and fifth-year Taylor Lawson were bright spots, scoring 9.825 and 9.800, respectively, for the Cardinal.

Oklahoma brushed perfection in the first round on vault, as Sooner sophomore Kat Levasseur and freshman Jordan Bowers both posted scores of 9.975.

Not far behind Oklahoma were Denver (49.375) and Washington (48.450) after their first events.

Sophomores Jessica Hutchinson and Riley Mundell set a high standard on the bars for the Pioneers. Three Husky athletes had scores of 9.850, resulting in a team total just above Stanford’s. These tight scores elevated tension in the convention center and forced the Cardinal to shift gears.

In the second rotation, freshman Brenna Neault took the floor. With a vibrant routine, Neault earned a 9.800 and, more importantly, ignited the Stanford lineup. From there, Bryant and senior Morgan Hoang added matching 9.925s for a team total of 49.325, pushing them within striking distance of Washington and Denver. 

Stanford capitalized on floor mistakes from Denver to slide into third place during the third rotation. After helping the team break their record on vault last week, senior Madison Brunette and Bryant reinvigorated the Cardinal with scores 9.775 and 9.825, respectively. 

In the final rotation, Denver finished vault quickly and anxiously awaited the results of Stanford’s final event: the uneven bars.

The bars have been an area of improvement over the season for the Cardinal, and the team easily could have struggled under pressure. However, Lawson and Brunette stepped up, excelling on the bars and contributing 9.850s to the team total of 48.975.

Their performance cemented Stanford’s victory over Denver. Unfortunately, Washington and Oklahoma were just out of reach.

In first place, Oklahoma defended its No. 3 ranking. Competing consistently across categories, the Sooners scored 49.475 or above in each event with multiple athletes matching career-bests. The Huskies also showcased their skills with a season-best 196.825. 

Though the Cardinal made early mistakes, their ability to bounce back from a deficit proves the season ahead will be one to watch. On Monday at 2 p.m. PT, Stanford will return to Maples Pavilion for a meet against No. 19 BYU, No. 24 Boise State and Sacramento State.

Abby Converse is a contributing writer in the sports section. Contact her at [email protected].

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