Stanford Scores Sweep in Gymnastics Opener

Jan. 3, 2009

CANCUN, Mexico - The Stanford women's gymnastics team opened its season at the Cancun Classic on Friday with solid victories over three schools that advanced to the NCAA postseason in 2008.

The Cardinal, ranked No.5 in the national preseason coaches poll, scored 195.600 points to beat No.9 Oregon State (194.575), No.14 Denver (193.825) and unranked BYU (189.125) in the four-team evening session event.

Coach Kristen Smyth, beginning her eighth season at Stanford, felt the team's performance on the balance beam was the highlight of the meet. Allyse Ishino, in her first competition since injuring her knee at the Pacific-10 Conference championships in March, set the tone by helping the team refocus after a teammate's miss, by performing aggressively and with confidence.

Kelly Fee and Carly Janiga followed with strong routines, and Heather Purnell and Shelley Alexander closed out the beam rotation with a flourish (individual scores were unavailable).

Alexander, a sophomore who competed solely on the vault last year, competed in the all-around 'with the poise and confidence of a veteran,' Smyth said. 'She has worked really hard and has made big improvements. I am excited to watch her grow and get better every weekend.'

Stanford was without all-around All-America Nicole Ourada, who was nursing a sore shoulder, and endured a long travel day on Thursday. But the Cardinal (3-0) adjusted well.

'It was a great way to start off the year,' Smyth said. 'I was impressed with how this team stayed together throughout the meet and covered each other when we had mistakes. This team is tough and is willing to fight for everything. They showed a tremendous amount of character and heart. I'm excited to build from here.'

Janiga scored 9.825 to tie Oregon State's Mandi Rodriguez and Whitney Watson for the vault title.

Stanford returns to action Jan. 16 in Seattle with a quad meet against Washington, Seattle Pacific and Sacramento State, followed by its home opener Jan. 22 (7 p.m.) at Burnham Pavilion against No.24 Arizona State.

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