Stanford Captures Pac-10 Gymnastics Championship

March 25, 2006

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CORVALLIS, Ore. - Tremendous performances on the balance beam and floor exercise, led by all-around champion Tabitha Yim, helped propel Stanford to the 2006 Pacific-10 Conference gymnastics championship on Saturday night at Oregon State's Gill Coliseum.

Standing in second place behind Oregon State after two events, the Cardinal scored a 49.500 on the beam, with three gymnasts earning a 9.9 or better. Yim scored a season-high 9.975 to win the individual title on the beam and received two 10s from the judges. Natalie Foley (9.95) and Nicole Ourada (9.90) also had season highs. Lauren Elmore, competing in only her second meet this season, had a 9.875.

After each team had completed three events, Stanford held leads of .400 over Oregon State and .550 over UCLA. Among the leaders, the Bruins were the first team to finish, and their season-best score of 49.525 on the balance beam in the sixth rotation put some pressure on the Cardinal.

But in the seventh and final rotation, Stanford responded with the best score of the night in the floor exercise (49.275) to earn a championship total of 197.100, ahead of UCLA (196.800) and host Oregon State (196.400).

'I'm so proud of my team,' Stanford Coach Kristen Smyth said. 'We're coming off our two hardest weeks of training, plus finals. I'm really proud of how they put it together. We hit 22 of 24 routines. We're getting better every single week and working toward the end of the year to peak at the right time.'

The Cardinal, ranked 10th in the country, won the Pac-10 championship for the fourth time, all of which have come in the last nine years. Stanford previously won in 1998, 2001 and 2004.

The performance on the balance beam was the key. The 49.500 was Stanford's best score in any discipline all season long.

'It was stellar,' Smyth said. 'A lot has to be said for our starter, Lauren Elmore, who just came back two weeks ago. To start the rotation as aggressive and as strong as she did, the rest of the girls just followed suit. I'm extremely proud of how aggressive they were on the beam and how well they performed in the event.'

'In practice this entire year we've done great on the beam, but in meets we've just done all right, not our best,' Yim said. 'So it was really exciting to be able to come together and do such a great rotation on the beam.'

Yim, a sophomore, took the all-around title after also scoring 9.925 on the floor (good for second place) and 9.875 in both the vault (tied for fourth) and uneven bars (fourth place). She is Stanford's second all-around champion (Natalie Foley won in 2004).

'College is all about the team,' Yim said. 'I wouldn't be able to do what I do without my team. I love them to death. How I do depends on them, so I'm thankful and blessed to compete with such a group of girls.'

Stanford sophomore Liz Tricase, ranked #1 in the nation in the uneven bars, won her first conference title in the event with a 9.925. She's the second Cardinal to win the uneven bars.

Oregon State freshman Tasha Smith captured two titles, winning the floor exercise with a 9.950 and the vault with a 9.925. She received the first 10 of the night from a judge for her effort on the vault. It was OSU's eighth floor title and its third vault title. The last Beaver to win two individual routines in one season was Chari Knight in 1994.

UCLA's Kate Richardson, the 2003 all-around champion, placed second this year in the all-around with a 39.550. She tied for second on the balance beam, tied for third on the floor, tied for fourth in the vault and tied for seventh on the uneven bars. She was followed in third place by teammate Jordan Schwikert (39.500).

Following Stanford, UCLA and Oregon State in the team standings, Arizona State (193.900) was fourth, Arizona (193.750) was fifth, Washington (192.750) was sixth and California (192.725) was seventh.

Conference awards, based on balloting of the coaches, was also announced tonight. UCLA's Richardson was named the Pac-10 Gymnast of the Year (the 10th straight time a Bruin has earned the honor). UCLA's Ariana Berlin and Oregon State's Jami Lanz were the co-Freshmen of the Year. Stanford's Smyth and Arizona State's Josh Spini were the co-Coaches of the Year. It was Spini's third honor and Smyth's second.

Final Team Scores: 1. Stanford 197.100; 2. UCLA 196.800; 3. Oregon State 196.400; 4. Arizona State 193.900; 5. Arizona 193.750; 6. Washington 192.750; 7. California 192.725.

Individual All-Around: 1. Tabitha Yim (Stanford) 39.650; 2. Kate Richardson (UCLA) 39.550; 3. Jordan Schwikert (UCLA) 39.500; 4. Ashley Kelly (Arizona State) 39.475; 5. Kristina Comforte (UCLA) 39.375.

Vault (individual): 1. Tasha Smith (Oregon State) 9.925; t2. Jordan Schwikert (UCLA) 9.900; t2. Liz Tricase (Stanford) 9.900; t4. four tied at 9.875.

Uneven Parallel Bars (individual): 1. Liz Tricase (Stanford) 9.925; t2. Chrissy Lamun (Oregon State) 9.900; t2. Jordan Schwikert (UCLA) 9.900; 4. Tabitha Yim (Stanford) 9.875; t5. Lydia Williams (California) 9.850; t5. Ashley Kelly (Arizona State) 9.850.

Balance Beam (individual): 1. Tabitha Yim (Stanford) 9.975; t2. Kate Richardson (UCLA) 9.950; t2. Melissa Chan (UCLA) 9.950; t2. Natalie Foley (Stanford) 9.950; t2. Ashley Kelly (Arizona State) 9.950.

Floor Exercise (individual): 1. Tasha Smith (Oregon State) 9.950; 2. Tabitha Yim (Stanford) 9.925; t3. Kate Richardson (UCLA) 9.900; t3. Liz Tricase (Stanford) 9.900; t5. Chrissy Lamun (Oregon State) 9.875; t5. Jami Lanz (Oregon State) 9.875.

Pac-10 Gymnast of the Year: Kate Richardson (UCLA)

Pac-10 co-Freshmen of the Year: Ariana Berlin (UCLA) and Jami Lanz (Oregon State)

Pac-10 co-Coaches of the Year: Kristen Smyth (Stanford) and John Spini (Arizona State)

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