Talented conference competes for gymnastics crown
Pac-12 concludes the regular season with seven teams ranked in the Top 25 out of eight total teams. Defending Pac-12 Champion OREGON STATE will look to defend their title as they face stiff competition from the rest of the Conference. The No. 4 seeded Beavers have beaten all 10 of its opponents that they have been ranked ahead of this year. Chelsea Tang has scored 9.90 or higher on all four apparatus. Freshman Madeline Gardiner has also proven that she will play a vital role in OSU’s success this upcoming weekend. OSU is ranked No. 11 nationally and is seeking their seventh conference title and the third in four years.
No. 1 seed and No. 5 ranked UTAH enters this weeks competition with three gymnasts ranked No. 1 this week. Tory Wilson and Kailah Delaney are tied for first on vault and Georgia Dabritz is tied for first. The Utes have dominated the bar and floor exercises this season, winning or tying for the top spot. Close behind the Utes is No. 2 seed UCLA. The Bruins are ranked No. 7 nationally and were the pre-season favorite to take the title in the coaches polls. The Bruins are led by All-Americans Olivia Courtney, Danusia Francis and Samantha Peszek. Peszek has returned to the lineup after redshirting the 2013 season after suffering a torn Achilles tendon. Courtney is ranked No 13 on vault and Francis and Peszek are ranked No. 3 and No. 7 on beam, respectively. Sydney Sawa is also a major contributor on for the Bruins as she comes in ranked at No. 6 on floor.
Rounding out the top seeded teams competing in the first session, STANFORD comes in at No. 3 for the Championship and ranked No. 10 nationally. The Cardinal finished the regular season with a 13-3 record defeating six Top 25 teams. Former Olympian Kristina Vaculik, ranked No. 15 on bars and No. 19 on the floor, leads Stanford. Freshman Nicolette McNair has shown growth throughout the season as she is ranked No. 18 nationally in the vault and continues to improve upon her score as an all-around competitor.
Host CALIFORNIA is a No. 5 seed set to compete in the second session beginning at 6:30 p.m. PT. Under second-year head coach Justin Howell, Cal finished the regular season ranked No. 19. All-around competitor Alicia Austurias leads the Golden Bears. The future looks bright for Cal as freshman Jessica Howe and Charlie Owens have blossomed throughout the course of the season each winning the Freshman/Newcomer of the Week honor two times.
No. 6 and No 7 seed ARIZONA and ARIZONA STATE are neck and neck entering the competition. The trend continues in the Top 25 where Arizona is ranked No. 21 with ASU coming in right behind the Wildcats at No. 22. Arizona’s Kristen Klarenbach and Jordan Williams will provide senior leadership for the Wildcats. Freshman Selynna Felix-Terrazas recently won Freshman/Newcomer of the Week and has shown steady improvement as the season has progressed. Coach John Spini has announced his retirement from the program earlier this year and will take a young Sun Devil team to Berkeley to compete at the Conference Championships. Lone ASU senior Samantha Seaman and junior Natasha Sundby will rally to lead try and lead ASU to a conference title.
No. 8 seed WASHINGTON has had trouble competing in a talented pool finishing the season with zero Conference wins. The Huskies will look to make their mark at the Conference meet with lone senior and all-around competitor Aliza Vaccher at the helm.
The Pac-12 Gymnastics Championships is a premier event in the collegiate gymnastics world bringing together some of the nation’s best teams and most talented athletes. Many of the Pac-12 teams will continue their season in the regional and national competition and contend for the national championship this year.