Top-5 Teams Tangle in Tuscaloosa

March 5, 2009

STANFORD, Calif. - No. 3 Stanford faces its toughest contest of the regular season when it takes on No. 5 Alabama, a perennial power in the Southeastern Conference and the nation. Stanford will have to bounce back from its worst showing of the season, when gymnasts fell early in the meet and the Cardinal was unable to recover in losing to San Jose State. Stanford's score of 193.95 was its lowest in eight meets this season. Alabama is 5-5 and is coming off a week in which it posted its highest team score (197.35) to jump six spots in the national rankings.

Pac-10 Championships Web Page Now Live
Championship Central for the Pacific-10 Conference meet to be held at Stanford on March 21 can be found on the Pac-10 Web site at The site includes ticket information, a rotation schedule, and links to the team pages of each school, as well as roster and results information. Also, directions are provided, as well as information on parking, which may be especially useful in navigating around the considerable construction on campus.

The Web page address:

Pac-10 Tickets on Sale
Tickets are on sale for the Pacific-10 Conference Women's Gymnastics Championships, which will be held at Stanford's Maples Pavilion on March 21 at 4 p.m. Prices are $8 for adults, $5 for students, youths, and seniors, and $3 each for groups of 10 or more that have pre-ordered. Some rules: Every individual age 3 and above must have a ticket; there are no returns, refunds, or exchanges; tickets will be mailed after March 1; and orders received after March 13 will be available at Will Call (photo ID required). For additional information, call 800-STANFORD or visit

On the Net
There will no live stats or free streaming video from Alabama, though a webcast is available for a fee on Results will be posted on as soon as they become available.

First Loss
Miscues on the opening two rotations put Stanford into a hole it could not climb out of in a loss to unranked San Jose State in a tri-meet at UC Davis on Friday. The Cardinal suffered a blow when Carly Janiga withdrew from the meet after the opening event, in which she scored a 9.875 to win the balance beam. Despite the team loss, Stanford won all four individual events. Nicole Ourada tied the top mark on floor with 9.9. Alyssa Brown and Shelley Alexander matched the event high of 9.85 on vault. And senior Kelly Fee captured the uneven bars with a 9.9, Stanford's only season-best score after the Cardinal had 21 a week earlier at Cal. The loss was the first for Stanford after opening with 12 consecutive victories for the best start in school history.

Training Technique
Stanford coach Kristen Smyth trains her athletes to be able to perform under pressure. The loss to San Jose State may have created a need for further training in that area. The day after the loss, Stanford brought in a group of men's volleyball players during a training session to act as hecklers while the Stanford gymnasts performed their routines.

SEC Rivalries
This is the fifth consecutive year that Stanford has scheduled a dual meet against a Southeastern Conference school and, so far, the Cardinal is 0-4 in those contests. The SEC is regarded as the nation's strongest gymnastics conference and has six teams ranked among the nation's top 11. This is Stanford's second go-round with Alabama, having faced the Crimson Tide in a home-and-home series in 2005-06, and Georgia in a home-and-home the past two years. Together, those two schools which have combined for 13 NCAA titles.

Friday's Opponent: Alabama
The Tide is rolling. No. 5 Alabama (5-5) posted its highest score of the season (197.35 against Auburn on Friday) and its highest road score of the year (196.625 at Penn State on Sunday) during a three-day span to move up six spots in the national rankings. Alabama has won four national championships and carries a proud tradition, reflected in the regular five-figure crowds at Coleman Coliseum, where Stanford will have to perform. On Sunday, Alabama was led by freshman Ashley Priess who scored a career-high 39.525 in the all-around and junior Ricki Lebegern who earned a season-high 39.450. It was Lebegern's ninth meet in a row to go all four events and the eighth time she has scored 39.2 or better in the all-around.

The Alabama Series
The last time Stanford and Alabama met was in last year's NCAA Super Six in Athens, Ga. There, Stanford finished third (196.75) to Alabama's sixth (196.125). During their home-and-home dual-meet series, Alabama won at Stanford in 2005 (197.1-194.975) and in Tuscaloosa in 2006 (196.25-195.85).

What the Rankings Mean
Unlike other collegiate athletics rankings, gymnastics is not based on wins and losses or votes, but first by season scoring average, and then by a Regional Qualifying Score, which is based on each team's top six regular-season scores. At least three scores must come from away meets. The highest score is then dropped and the remaining five are averaged. The 36 teams with the highest RQS earn NCAA regional berths. Teams must finish among the top two in the regionals to advance to the NCAA team preliminaries, where teams are divided into two six-team sessions. The top three in each session advance to the Super Six, the Final Four of women's gymnastics.

The Rankings
This week's Top 10 team rankings, based on RQS: 1, Georgia 197.035; 2, Utah 196.885; 3, Stanford 196.59; 4, Florida 196.465; 5, Alabama 196.455; 6, UCLA 196.43; 7, Oklahoma 196.34; 8, Auburn 196.31; 9, Oregon State 196.295; 10, Arkansas 196.29.

Team Scores in Rankings

In every event, Stanford is among the national leaders in average score. Here is how the Cardinal ranks, and its RQS:
Overall: 3rd, 196.59
Vault: 7th, 49.17
Bars: 4th, 49.255
Beam: 3rd, 49.225
Floor: 8th, 49.115

Individual Scores in Rankings

Here is how Cardinal individuals rank among the top 20 in each event, based on RQS. Some Stanford gymnasts are not included because they haven't competed in six competitions in a specific event:
Vault: 19th, Shelley Alexander, 9.87
Bars: 4th, Carly Janiga, 9.895
17th (t), Allyse Ishino, 9.86
Beam: 10th, Carly Janiga, 9.875

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 finished third in the nation last season.
• Stanford is among four schools to reach the Super Six in each of the past two years.
• Stanford reached 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.

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