No. 8 Women's Gymnastics Opens 2002 Season On The Road

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Jan. 6, 2002

This Week's Action
Sat., Jan. 12 at No. 15 Minnesota...5 p.m...Minneapolis, MN

Cardinal Update
The Stanford women's gymnastics squad opens its 2002 season this Saturday, January 12, on the road against the No. 15 Minnesota Golden Gophers in Minneapolis, MN. The Cardinal, ranked No. 8 in the GymInfo Preseason Coaches' Poll, will begin its quest for a berth in the NCAA Championships, set for April 18-20, 2002 in Tuscaloosa, AL. Stanford will look to build on its success from last season, as the Cardinal were crowned Pac-10 champions and finished in eighth place at the NCAA Championships.

Stanford in the National Rankings
The Cardinal enters the 2002 campaign as the No. 8 team in the nation according to the GymInfo Preseason Coaches' Poll. UCLA, Georgia, Michigan, Alabama and Utah were tabbed as the top-five programs in the nation, respectively. In addition to Stanford and UCLA, four other Pac-10 schools are ranked in the top-25: No. 9 Arizona State, No. 10 Oregon State, No. 17 Arizona and No. 19 Washington. The Cardinal finished the 2001 season at No. 8, as it advanced to the NCAA Championships and ended with a 12-3 overall mark.

Scouting the Golden Golphers
No. 15 Minnesota, which missed the NCAA Championships by a mere 0.15 last season, are off to a quick start in 2002. The Golden Gophers defeated Big Ten rival Illinois 193.750-190.550 in their season opener last weekend. Senior MaryAnne Kelley took top honors on floor exercise with a 9.850 and earned a first place finish on vault with a 9.975. Sophomore Alicia Opsahl earned a career-high 9.825 on balance beam to take first place for the Gophers. Junior Kelly Watson tied for first place on bars, recording a 9.975. The Gophers are led by co-head coaches Jim and Meg Stephenson.

The Smyth File
Kristen Smyth begins her first year at the helm of the Stanford women's gymnastics program. Smyth came to The Farm in June of 2001 after previously serving as the associate head coach at Arizona State during the last five seasons. Smyth came to Tempe as an assistant coach prior to the 1997 season, and was promoted to associate head coach in 2000. She was named the 1998 Regional Assistant Coach of the Year after helping the Sun Devils to a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Championships. During her tenure, Arizona State advanced to the NCAA Super Six in three of her five seasons.

It Won't Be Easy
Nine of the 12 opponents Stanford faces this season are ranked in the preseason top-25. The Cardinal faces non-conference foes Florida, Penn State and Minnesota, along with its usual competitive Pac-10 slate. Stanford University will also be the host site for the 2002 Pac-10 Championships on Mar. 23.

Leading the Charge
Sophomores Lindsay Wing and Lise L�veill� wrapped up the 2001 s eason for the Card by garnering All-America honors at the NCAA Championships last April. Wing snagged second place on the beam with a 9.925, while L�veill� chalked up a 9.850 on floor- good for 11th place. Wing, the 2001 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, earned First Team All-America honors on beam and the All-Around, and was named a Second Team All-American on floor. L�veill� was tabbed a First Team All-American selection on the floor exercise.

Cardinal on Vault...
Stanford set a new school record on vault last season (49.375) at Pac-10 Championships. Sophomore Caroline Fluhrer turned in Stanford's best individual performance last season, posting a 9.975 at Pac-10 Championships-tying a school record. Wing and junior Kelsey Stillinger should be competitive this season, while sophomore Shelly Goldberg is yet another Cardinal to watch. Sophomore Kendall Beck and freshman Mandy Delgado will also get an opportunity to contribute in 2002.

Cardinal on Bars...
The Cardinal notched a season-high 9.950 on three different occasions in 2001, with Wing and Fluhrer each accomplishing the feat once. Another option is junior Alissa Cooper, one of the hardest-working athletes on the 2002 roster. Senior All-Americans Kristin Jensen and Katy Herbert should also factor into the mix as both gymnasts are capable of show-stopping routines. The coaching staff has also been pleased with the recent performances of senior Becky Meldrum and junior Abby Gair.

Cardinal on Beam...
Despite losing Jen Exaltacion to graduation, the Card should remain outstanding in the balance beam event. Wing capped off an incredible All-American freshman season with a second place finish at the NCAA Championships, while L�veill� was named an All Pac-10 selection on the event. Herbert should be another productive gymnast on the beam in 2002, while the two freshmen- Delgado and Marla Ranieri could provide a spark in their rookie seasons.

Cardinal on Floor...
Stanford should excel in the floor exercise as well this season. L�veill� had a terrific season for the Cardinal in 2001, as the First Team All-American completed a solid first season with an eleventh place finish in the event finals. L�veill� was named to the All Pac-10 team for the event, posting a 9.950 at Pac-10 Championships. The diverse group of floor workers includes Fluhrer and Wing, who will compete as All-Arounders. Meldrum, Jensen, and Herbert have plenty of experience and will be key components. Goldberg is yet another excellent tumbler on the floor.

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