Gymnasts Open Home Season

Jan. 20, 2009

STANFORD, Calif. -

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The Stanford women's gymnastics team takes on Arizona State in a Thursday dual meet at Burnham Pavilion at 7 p.m. The Cardinal (6-0) is coming off a sweep of Washington, Sacramento State and Seattle Pacific in Seattle last week and is ranked No. 7 in the nation, as determined by average team scores. Arizona State (0-1) is ranked No. 16.

Live Video
A free live Webcast of the meet can be found on On the home page, click on the All-Access button above the main photo, or scroll down to the Calendar and find the link there.

Parking Scarce
Because of construction near the Stanford athletics facilities, there will be no parking adjacent to or even especially close to Burnham Pavilion. Fans are encouraged to arrive early and park at the track and field parking lot at Galvez and Nelson roads, or to proceed on Galvez around Stanford Stadium and park at Lot 2, a dirt lot near El Camino Real. Fans also should be advised that the Stanford men's basketball team has a home game at Maples Pavilion, with tip-off at 7:30 p.m. Fans arriving for both events will be using the same parking facilities.

This Week: Arizona State
The Sun Devils opened their season with a narrow 194.725-194.475 loss to visiting Missouri on Friday. Arizona State was dealt a blow last summer when its 2008 MVP Ashlee Hinkle was injured in a boating accident which ended her gymnastics career. Instead, the team is led by All-Pac-10 all-around first-team selection Tiana Jean. The teams met twice last season, with Stanford winning each time, at the four-team Flip for the Cure in Tempe, and the Pac-10 Championships. Arizona State was seventh in the Pac-10.

Smyth's ASU background
Stanford coach
Kristen Smyth arrived at Stanford in 2002 from Arizona State, where she spent five seasons (1997-2001), the final three as associate head coach. In 1998, she was named Regional Assistant Coach of the Year for her role in helping the Sun Devils to a sixth-place national finish.

Cardinal Improves to 6-0
Sophomore Shelley Alexander continued her emergence as one of Stanford's most promising young gymnasts by scoring a personal best on the vault during a quad-meet sweep Friday. Alexander and teammate Allyse Ishino (uneven bars) each scored 9.9's to tie for the team's top scoring honors and help Stanford to 196.45 points. Washington (194.25) was next, followed by Sacramento State (193.55) and Seattle Pacific (188.425), at University of Washington's Bank of America Arena. Ishino led a strong bars performance that produced a first-rotation team score of 49.325, giving Stanford a lead it would not relinquish. The score, which also included freshman Nicole Pechanec's collegiate high of 9.875, was the best of the meet for any team in any event. Stanford finished with the highest team scores in every event. In the second rotation, Stanford scored 9.75 or above on all six balance beam performances.

Balanced Lineup
The victory in the Washington quad meet was achieved without having any gymnast competing in the all-around competition. The Cardinal used 12 gymnasts in the meet, with Shelley Alexander, Danielle Ikoma and Nicole Ourada competing in three events apiece, the most by any Stanford individual. Stanford has two returning All-Americans in the all-around, Carly Janiga and Nicole Ourada, but also has strong depth, which was evident last week.

Sparkling Sophomores
Shelley Alexander and Danielle Ikoma have been two of the team's biggest points producers thus far. After competing solely in the vault as a freshman last season, Alexander competed in the all-around in her season debut at the Cancun Classic, and then hit a 9.9 in the vault among her three scores in Seattle. Ikoma has been a triple threat in the vault, balance beam and uneven bars.

Freshmen Impact
Two 2008 Olympic alternates, Nicole Pechanec and Alyssa Brown, have made an impact so far from the class of 2012. Pechanec, who competes for the Czech Republic, scored a 9.875 on her uneven bars routine at Washington and a 9.825 on the floor. Brown, of Canada, scored a 9.8 on the vault and a 9.775 on the bars. Each of those scores marked their collegiate personal bests after two meets.

Stanford remains nearly a month away from registering its first RQS of the season. The nation's first set of Regional Qualifying Scores will be released Feb. 16. The scores are based on overall scores achieved at three road events, and three other meets, with the highest score thrown out. The resulting average is the team's RQS. At the end of the regular season, the teams with the 36 top RQS scores will be invited to the NCAA regionals. There will be six regionals consisting of six teams each. The top two in each advances to the NCAA Championships. One of Stanford's goals is to finish with one of the top six RQS scores and earn a No. 1 seed.

The Schedule
Stanford begins a stretch of three home meets in four weeks. The Cardinal will take on UCLA at Burnham Pavilion on Feb. 8, and Oregon State and UC Davis at Maples Pavilion on Feb. 15. The Cardinal also travels to Tucson, to compete at Arizona Jan. 30. Collectively, the meets will involve the top four finishers in last season's Pac-10 Championships. Stanford was first, followed in order by Oregon State, UCLA and Arizona.

Pac-10s Coming to Stanford March 21
Maples Pavilion (gymnastics capacity 5,488) will host the Pac-10 Conference Championships on March 21, at 4 p.m. Stanford is the defending champion and has won three of the past five titles and five overall. This will be the fifth women's gymnastics conference championship meet held at Maples Pavilion and first since 2002. More recently, it was the site of the 2008 NCAA men's gymnastics championships and the 2006 NCAA women's regionals.

The Stanford Gymnastics Tradition
Stanford's third-place national finish last season was the most visible indication that the Cardinal has edged its way into the women's gymnastics national elite, but there have been others:• Stanford has two top-three national finishes in five years.• Stanford is among four schools to reach the Super Six in each of the past two years.• Stanford is one of seven schools to reach the Super Six four times in the past seven years.• Stanford is the defending Pac-10 champion and has captured three conference titles in five years.• Twelve Stanford gymnasts have won 56 All-America honors since coach Kristen Smyth arrived in 2002.• Seven Cardinal gymnasts have won Pac-10 titles in that time.

Janiga First Gymnast of Week
On Jan. 13, Stanford's Carly Janiga earned the first Gymnast of the Week honor by the Pac-10 this season. Janiga won two events in the evening session of the season-opening Cancun Classic to help the Cardinal beat Oregon State, Denver and BYU. She scored 39.275 in the all-around, and won the bars and tied for the victory in the vault.

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