UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The 12th-ranked Oregon State gymnastics team finished third at the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships University Park Regional and missed qualifying as a team to the national championships Saturday night. Junior Chelsea Tang and freshman Madeline Gardiner qualified in the all-around and freshman Kaytianna McMillan qualified on the balance beam to compete at the NCAA Championships later this month.
“The team competed well tonight. The ladies left their hearts on the floor and stayed focused though the last performance,” head coach Tanya Chaplin said. “The beam team was amazing, showing poise and focus under extremely challenging conditions. I’m happy that we qualified three gymnasts to the NCAA Championships, it will be a great experience especially for the two freshmen. These three women will lead this team back to nationals next season.”
Before the Beavers, who began the meet on a bye, had even taken the competition floor Penn State, the regional’s third-seed, had raced out to a fast start scoring 49.300 on the vault.
Taking the floor for their first event – in the second rotation – the Beavers “hit” all six routines, but an out of bounds deduction near the beginning of the lineup by Nicole Turner and a screeching stop to save herself from going out by Brittany Harris at the end of the lineup sandwiched several solid routines. Kailie Ponto, who entered the lineup just over a month ago, matched her career-high to score 9.875 on a beautiful routine and Chelsea Tang followed matching her personal best of 9.90. Madeline Gardiner performed a fantastic routine as well to score 9.85. The Beavers scored 49.150 as a team and found themselves in third place looking up at top-seed Florida and Penn State.
Moving to the vault, the Beavers needed a strong performance to keep things close. A team score of 49.175 coupled with Florida counting a fall on beam and Penn State struggling a bit on the bars put Oregon State right in the mix. Taylor Keeker, Erika Aufiero and Tang each posted scores of 9.85 for the Beavers and Gardiner added a 9.825. OSU (98.325) trailed Penn State (98.350) with Florida in third (98.125) and New Hampshire (97.950) still in striking distance at the halfway point.
After their final bye, the Beavers headed to the uneven bars where they “hit” five out of six routines. However, the missed release move by Aufiero near the end of the lineup hurt the momentum of several stuck dismounts. Tang led the scoring with a 9.875 while Hannah Casey and Gardiner each tallied scores of 9.850 and OSU tallied a team score of 49.075.
Heading into the final rotation it was a three-team race with Florida held the lead at 147.500, with OSU in second 147.400 and Penn State 147.300. The Beavers attacked the beam and posted the highest team score of the night with a 49.125 but it wasn’t enough as Penn State notched the highest team score on the floor (49.425) in the rotation. Kaytianna McMillan and Tang each scored 9.85 to tie for the event title while Gardiner added a 9.825. Cerise Witherby and Harris each posted marks of 9.80.
Oregon State Notes: Oregon State qualified three gymnasts for the second year in a row … Florida advanced as the top seed and Penn State as the third-seed out of the University Park Regional.
Team Scores: 1. Florida 197.050; 2. Penn State 196.725; 3. Oregon State 196.525; 4. Kentucky 195.925; 5. New Hampshire 195.025; 6. Maryland 194.525.
Vault (49.175): 1. Bridget Sloan (UF) 9.950; 2. Mackenzie Caquatto (UF) 9.925; t3. Alaina Johnson (UF), Kytra Hunter (UF), Sidney Sanabria-Robles (PSU), Emma Sibson (PSU) 9.900. OSU Scores: Taylor Keeker 9.850; Chelsea Tang 9.850; Erika Aufiero 9.850; Madeline Gardiner 9.825; Megan Jimenez 9.800; Brittany Harris 9.800.
Uneven Bars (49.075): t1. Bridget Sloan (UF), Mackenzie Caquatto (UF) 9.950; t3. Alaina Johnson (UF), Bridgette Caquatto (UF) 9.900. OSU Scores: Chelsea Tang 9.875; Madeline Gardiner 9.850; Hannah Casey 9.850; Kaytianna McMillan 9.775; Brittany Harris 9.725; Erika Aufiero 9.200.
Balance Beam (49.125): t1. Chelsea Tang (OSU), Kaytianna McMillan (OSU), Audrey Harrison (UK), Alaina Johnson (UF). Other OSU Scores: Madeline Gardiner 9.825; Cerise Witherby 9.800; Brittany Harris 9.800; Katelyn Ohlrich 9.775.
Floor Exercise (49.150): 1. Kytra Hunter (UF) 9.950; t2. Bridget Sloan (UF), Tiara Phipps (UK) 9.925. OSU Scores: Chelsea Tang 9.900; Kailie Ponto 9.875; Madeline Gardiner 9.850; Cerise Witherby 9.775; Brittany Harris 9.750; Nicole Turner 9.700.