Stanford Honors Seniors with Victories
Feb. 15, 2009
STANFORD, Calif. - The Stanford women's gymnastics team continues to meet each challenge - beating No. 10 Oregon State and UC Davis on Sunday at Maples Pavilion - and now begins to prepare for new ones.
While No. 4 Stanford extended its best-ever start to 11-0, the Cardinal began to increase the difficulty of some routines as the regular-season heads into the homestretch.
Stanford certainly seems to be hitting each benchmark as it builds toward the postseason. The Cardinal scored 197.025 points to Oregon State's 196.6 and UC Davis' 191.55. Stanford and Oregon State finished one-two in the Pac-10 Championships last season and should battle again when the meet is held at Maples Pavilion on March 21.
Stanford exceeded 197 for the second consecutive week, set 11 individual season-bests, one team event best, and a season-high mark of 9.95 by Carly Janiga on the balance beam.
It seemed appropriate that on an afternoon in which its three seniors were honored with a stirring scoreboard video tribute prepared by assistant coach Mike Lorenzen and narrated by head coach Kristen Smyth, that it was a senior who shined the brightest.
Nicole Ourada, ranked No. 2 in the nation, captured her second all-around victory in three tries this season, by scoring 39.5 to edge Janiga and Oregon State's Mandi Rodriguez, who each scored 39.475.
Ourada and Janiga once again provided the consistently high scores that Stanford has used as its foundation, creating less pressure for teammates. Though Oregon State scored solidly with team scores of 49 points in each event, the Beavers (7-3) lost ground on each rotation.
'Senior Night is always an emotional high,' Smyth said. 'And the team did well considering that. And Carly and Nikki were outstanding as always.'
Janiga, a four-time All-America, tied her career best on the beam to lead the Cardinal to a team season-best of 49.4 in any event.
But throughout the lineup, there were highlights. Allyse Ishino provided two, scoring season bests on both of her routines: 9.9 on the bars, and 9.85 on the beam. And freshman Nicole Pechanec hit a 9.875 on the floor for the best score of her collegiate career.
'For Nicole and Allyse, it was great to see them perfect the routines they've been performing in practice every day,' Smyth said.
Shelley Alexander hit season bests of 9.85 on the beam and the floor.
And senior Kelly Fee rallied from early difficulties to post a 9.875 on the floor. It was her season-best score in any event and exhibited the toughness that she spoke of before the meet when she said of her senior class: 'I think our legacy is this, we were never scared, and we were always united.'
The emotion of the Senior Night presentation concluded with these words from Smyth:
'Fee, Nikki and Purnell, thank you for choosing Stanford. We are all better because of you.'