Stanford Women's Gymnastics Season Wrap-Up
May 9, 2005
Stanford, Calif.- Coming off of a program-best third place finish at last season's NCAA Super Six, expectations were high for the Stanford women's gymnastics team heading into the 2005 season. Despite losing five seniors and four All-Americans to graduation, the Cardinal garnered a program-best No. 3 preseason ranking and boasted one of the top freshman recruiting classes in the nation. Although Kristen Smyth's squad struggled through an injury plagued season and ultimately failed to qualify for a fifth straight NCAA Championship, the Cardinal put together an outstanding campaign that culminated in a phenomenal performance by Tabitha Yim at the NCAA Event Finals.
The young Cardinal squad started off the season with a tough loss on the road to Washington, falling by a narrow margin of 192.825-192.425. Despite the loss to the Huskies, freshman Liz Tricase showed Cardinal fans an early glimpse of good things to come by capturing the all-around title in her first collegiate meet with a 39.050 score. Coach Smyth's squad rebounded from the defeat by posting a dual meet victory over Oregon State at Burnham Pavilion the following week. Freshman Alex Pintchouk led the Cardinal by winning the all-around title with a 38.675 score and Tricase was strong on vault and bars, leading to her first selection as the Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week.
Stanford hit a dry spell in February, falling in three straight dual meets. Despite the losses, the Cardinal continued to improve their team scores against Central Michigan, Arizona, and UCLA. The Cardinal welcomed the Bruins to Maples Pavilion on February 18th and competed very closely with the defending national champions, recording team season-highs on the vault (49.000) and uneven bars (49.250).
The Cardinal began hitting its stride at the end of the month, setting a team season-high with a 195.300 team score in a win over Arizona State on February 25th without junior Glyn Sweets, who was injured in practice during the week leading up to the meet. Junior co-captain Natalie Foley captured her first all-around title of the season with a 39.025 score against the Sun Devils and Tricase claimed first place in three events to lead the Cardinal and garner her second Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week honor. The Stanford squad continued to roll along, earning a third place finish against a highly competitive field at the Utah Quadrangular on March 4th. The team set several team and personal season-high scores, notching a season-high team score of 196.025, and recording the team's best floor score of the season (49.250). The team also got co-captain Jessica Louie back, as the junior made her season debut on bars at the Utah Quad.
With two great performances under their belts, the Cardinal headed home to take on Alabama at Maples Pavilion on March 6th in a match up of the two squads that tied for third place at last season's NCAA Super Six. The squad got bad news before the meet even began, as Tricase re-aggravated an ankle injury prior to the competition and would be unable to compete for the remainder of the season. Despite strong performances on vault and bars, the Cardinal fell to the Crimson Tide 197.100-194.975.
Coach Smyth's squad got a week off to rest and nurse some of their injuries before heading into the regular season's last meet at San Jose State on March 19th. The banged up Cardinal took second place at the Spartan tri-meet, with Foley placing second in the all-around. Yim put together a top performance at San Jose State, placing first on the uneven bars with a 9.875 and setting a team season-high with a 9.925 score on the balance beam.
The Cardinal looked to defend its conference title at the Pac-10 championships in Berkeley on March 26th without two of the team's top competitors in Sweets and Tricase. The squad got off to a great start on beam, posting the team's second best score of the season with a 48.875. Stanford moved on to the floor, where the team got great lead off performances from freshmen Lauren Elmore and Aimee Precourt. Freshman Stephanie Gentry was forced to cut her floor routine short when she injured her toe during a tumbling pass, leaving her unable to finish the competition. The Cardinal came back strong to finish up the meet with solid showings on vault and bars. Yim's bar score of 9.900 was good for second place in the event, and helped the team to a fourth place finish with a team score of 194.600. Junior Natalie Foley was the Cardinal's top all-around scorer, placing 6th with a 39.075.
Stanford traveled to Seattle for the West Regional on April 9th, hoping to earn its fifth straight bid to the NCAA National Championships. Due to injuries, only seven gymnasts competed for the Cardinal, with five competing in the all-around. The Stanford squad turned in a season-best performance on the balance beam, scoring a 49.000, aided by Elmore's 9.900 score that tied for third place. The Cardinal finished up the meet in fourth place, posting a 194.750 team mark and falling short of capturing a spot in the NCAA Championships. Yim made her debut in the all-around at the West Regional, scoring a 39.250 to finish in fifth place and earn a bid to compete individually in the all-around at Nationals.
Yim entered the NCAA Championships as the top-scoring all-around performer among the at-large individual competitors and did not disappoint, qualifying for the NCAA Event Finals in three different events. On the first day of competition, the Cardinal freshman captured first place in Session I on the balance beam with a 9.925 mark, and tied for second place with a 9.900 on the uneven bars. Yim also excelled on the floor exercise, where she scored a 9.900 to tie for third place. The freshman finished fourth in the all-around with a score of 39.450, the highest all-around score posted by a Cardinal gymnast on the season.
After earning four First Team All-American honors by virtue of her performances on bars, beam, floor, and the all-around, Yim continued to impress in the NCAA Event Finals. Her 9.925 score led her to a third place finish on floor, while she also placed sixth on bars with a 9.875 and seventh on beam with a 9.837 mark.
While the 2005 Stanford women's gymnastics season may be remembered as one that was mired with injuries, the Cardinal finished the campaign with a No. 17 national ranking and showed a great deal of maturity throughout several trying stretches. Coach Smyth saw vast improvement in her highly touted freshman group, and saw several upperclassmen emerge as team leaders on the competition floor. The Cardinal will not lose a single gymnast to graduation next season, and will look to build a national championship contender upon the foundation that was laid during the 2005 campaign.
* Program-best No. 3 preseason ranking
* Four First Team All-American honors; Tabitha Yim (bars, beam, floor, all-around)
* Two Cardinal named All-Pac-10; Natalie Foley (all-around), Tabitha Yim (bars)
* Two Cardinal named Pac-10 All-Academic; Natalie Foley (honorable mention), Stacy Sprando (honorable mention)
* Two Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week honors; Liz Tricase (February 1st, February 28th)
Overall Record: 9-14
Dual Meet Record: 2-5
Vs. Pac-10: 7-8
Pac-10 Finish: 4th
West Regional Finish: 4th
TODAY | 7:00pm PTLive
TOMORROW | 7:00pm PTLive