It was no holiday on Monday for No. 19 Stanford women’s gymnastics (4-8-1, 2-4-0 Pac-12). After returning from a third-place finish at the Metroplex Challenge two days ago, Stanford hosted No. 12 BYU (7-4-1, 5-3-0 MRGC), Boise State (5-2, 3-2 MRGC) and Sacramento State (2-10, 2-5 MPSF) at Maples Pavilion. The Cardinal posted their second-highest team score of the season with a 196.575, tying the Cougars. The Broncos led the pack with a 197.000, and the Hornets finished with a 193.325.
“We knew that this was going to be one of the biggest challenges of the year,” said head coach Tabitha Yim about the back-to-back quad meet performances. “It is hard to go through an entire season without ever counting a fall, and we were happy to get another opportunity so quickly.”
“Coming back off of Texas, we did not do our best there,” added true freshman Brenna Neault. “We knew that we had more to give this weekend, so we took it in, learned from our mistakes and used all the preparation we have been doing in the gym to come out today and make it a great day.”
Neault and true freshman Anapaula Gutierrez stepped up on the vault, logging career-bests of 9.825 and 9.900, respectively. Fifth-year Kyla Bryant captured her second 9.900 vault of the season, propelling Stanford to its season-best team score of 49.200 on the event.
After the opening rotation, the Cardinal trailed only Boise State, who opened its campaign on the balance beam, by 0.175 points. The Broncos earned a trio of scores 9.900 and above to pull out to the early lead.
Ranked in the top 20 nationally on the uneven bars, Stanford made some uncharacteristic mistakes throughout the rotation, needing to count a fall on the event. A bright spot in this rotation, however, was Neault, sticking her second career-high of the day with a 9.925.
The Cardinal clocked its lowest team score of the season in the event with a 48.650, slipping to third at the halfway point of the meet.
Stanford moved onto the third rotation with the balance beam. It looked like the woes of the second rotation seemed to linger with beam specialist and redshirt freshman Isabela Onyshko falling off the four-inch-wide beam. However, Bryant ended the Cardinal’s rotation earning a 10.000 from one of the judges to claim a career-best 9.975.
The career bests continued to flow in for Neault as she earned her second-straight 9.900 or above of the day for her efforts on the balance beam.
“We had a fluke thing on bars,” Yim said. “To have to go to the beam where we had the same mistake at Metroplex, I think it shows that they have this growth mindset that we always talk about in practice.”
Ending on one of their strongest events, especially after earning a stratospheric 49.600 against UCLA, the Cardinal started on the floor exercise where they ended on the balance beam.
Opening the final rotation, Neault completed her all-around campaign going four-for-four in career-bests with a 9.875 on the floor. By completing her sweep of career-highs for the day, Neault claimed another career-high in the all-around with a 39.525 and earned her first individual title on the event.
“It is an exciting day,” said Neault. “I am just so proud of my team for all the work they have been doing.”
“She has the mindset and passion for this sport,” Yim said of Neault. “She takes it very seriously, representing the ‘S’ with pride.”
Gutierrez and senior Madison Brunette followed up Neault by matching their career highs of 9.900 and 9.875, respectively.
Yim commended both Neault and Gutierrez for their contributions to the team as freshmen.
“It is their first time in college doing back-to-back meets,” Yim said. “They both showed a lot of mental toughness.”
The fifth-years closed out the meet in style with a pair of 9.900’s or above, highlighted by Taylor Lawson’s two stuck landings, to finish tied for second behind Boise State. Lawson “righted the ship” by knocking out solid performances after falls from other Cardinal gymnasts on the uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise.
“She just showed her true colors as a veteran super senior,” Yim said of Lawson’s performances. “She was so aggressive and confident that she reset the tone for the girls following her.”
Despite several mistakes in the meet, Yim and her team are continuing to look upwards as they start nearing the postseason.
“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed because we had a great opportunity to win this meet and to count a 197.000,” Yim said. “For them to not let the meet go but to really fight back shows the potential of the team.”
“We are just going to keep building and growing and writing the next chapter as we go,” Yim added.
The Cardinal will be back on the road again in Corvallis to face Pac-12 rival Oregon State, led by Tokyo Olympian Jade Carey, on Friday, Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m. PT.