Sweet in Seattle
SEATTLE — Stanford shocked the NCAA Regional Seattle bracket Thursday evening, topping regular-season ranked No. 13 Oregon State (197.450-197.425) and No. 19 Illinois (197.450-197.375) in the regional semifinals to earn a spot in the finals.
The Cardinal's score of 197.450 was not only a season-best team total by almost half of a point but the best score by a Stanford team in the regional championships since 2008 and the second-best score at a regional meet in program history.
Two members of that 2008 team (Head Coach Tabitha Yim, Assistant Coach Alexandra Pintchouk) now are at the helm of the Stanford program.
Three of Stanford's four event totals either matched or set season-best marks, led by a 49.450 on bars that sealed the result of Thursday night's meet. Nine scores throughout the night either set or matched season or career bests, including four bars scores during the final rotation.
Super senior Kyla Bryant led the Cardinal's all-around efforts, totaling a 39.4750 highlighted by a 9.95 on floor. Her floor performance Thursday secures her a spot at the 2022 National Championships as an individual if the team does not advance.
Stanford started the night on beam with each of the Cardinal's six gymnasts earning scores of 9.825-or-better. Freshman Anapaula Gutierrez led off with a 9.825, followed by a season-best score of 9.875 from super senior Lauren Navarro. Junior Chloe Widner matched her career-best beam score of 9.925 in the five spot and super senior Taylor Lawson ended the rotation with a career-best matching score of 9.875. The program's beam team total of 49.350 marked its best since March 11, 2018. After one rotation, Stanford sat in second place behind Illinois (49.400).
It was then onto the Cardinal's best event of the year, floor, where the program was led by five scores above 9.85 for a team total of 49.425. Stanford's three best scores of the rotation came in the final three spots led by Bryant's 9.95 and senior floor specialist Morgan Hoang's 9.90. With its strong floor score, the Cardinal were tied for the lead after two rotations.
After two rotations, Stanford went to vault, historically its lowest-scoring event throughout the 2022 season. The Cardinal flipped the script with a season-high 49.225, led off by junior Jade Chrobok's 9.85 and career-best matching scores from Gutierrez (9.90) and senior Madison Brunette (9.85). Navarro matched her season-best vault total with a 9.80 and Bryant anchored with a 9.825. Going into the final event of the night, Stanford sat in third place with a team total of 148.000.
Down .075, the Cardinal followed its season motto and recorded its season-best bars team total to secure the second-place finish. Senior Grace Waguespack led off with a career-best matching 9.90, followed by a 9.80 from Lawson and then 9.90 efforts from both Brunette and Neault. Bryant and Widner closed out the rotation, both scoring a 9.875. Widner's anchor score set a new career-best for the junior and captured the night's finish for Stanford.
Stanford continues its postseason run Saturday, competing against No. 4 Utah, No. 5 Alabama, and No. 12 Michigan State in the regional finals. The meet is set to start at 5 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN+.