Beavers Finish Fifth in Evening Session; Rodriguez Advances to Finals
April 16, 2009
LINCOLN, Neb. - The No. 8 Oregon State gymnastics team finished fifth in the evening session of the NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships and 11th overall Thursday night at Nebraska's Devaney Center. Junior sensation Mandi Rodriguez advanced to Saturday's Individual Event Finals on the vault and floor exercise.
Oregon State head coach Tanya Chaplin knew entering the meet that the Beavers would need a boost to push for a spot in Friday's Super Six and took a gamble, throwing all of her cards on the table ... and it worked. Unfortunately it wasn't enough. Chaplin re-ordered the floor exercise lineup seeking to put as much scoring potential into the lineup as possible, and all six gymnasts hit, including senior Tasha Smith, who had not been in a competitive lineup in 2009.
"We had a rough beginning to the meet, but I'm proud of the way these women fought back," Chaplin said. "This team did a great job of trying to stay within striking distance. There were several outstanding individual performances tonight and we're all proud of that as well. We'll be back next year."
The Beavers drew a tough rotation beginning the meet on the balance beam. Oregon State's first two gymnasts fell before Mandi Rodriguez hit a solid routine to score 9.775 and get the Beavers started in the right direction. Laura-Ann Chong followed with a near perfect series during her beam routine to add momentum with a score of 9.825. Leslie Mak had to check her balance slightly and settled for a 9.775. Jami Lanz hit her series but had a wobble during her series then hopped on her double-twisting gainer dismount (an upgrade to her usual dismount) for a 9.75.
Following OSU's first bye, the Beavers moved to the floor exercise where they were sporting the new lineup. Jereme Bigelow, who usually occupies the third slot in the lineup, led off for the Orange and Black hitting a beautiful routine to score a 9.80. Kera Bolen followed with a solid routine and a score of 9.75. Mak, was moved from her customary fourth slot to make room for Smith, added another great routine for a 9.825. With their confidence rising and the momentum changing, Smith took the floor and, as usual, delighted the crowd with her hip-hop dance routine and huge tumbling. In Smith's first and last floor routine of the year, she tallied an impressive 9.85. Lanz followed Smith with a great routine of her own and a score of 9.825. Rodriguez, who ranks fifth in the nation on the floor exercise, used her big tumbling runs and dramatic dance to score a 9.875, which held as the second highest score of the session. Overall, the Beavers' team score of 49.175 was the second highest floor total of the session.
Oregon State moved to the vault, where scores were soaring all night. Stephanie McGregor, Brooke Barclay and Whitney Watson each took small steps or hops to earn scores of 9.75, 9.75 and 9.725 respectively. But needing to pick up the pace, the Beavers' back half of the lineup stepped up. Becky Colvin stuck a great vault to score 9.875 and Lanz nailed a 9.90 to set up Rodriguez again. Rodriguez's high-flying vault had great distance and a perfect landing receiving a score of 9.95 including a perfect 10.0 from one judge.
Following another bye and finishing on the uneven bars, the Beavers sought to finish strong. D'Anna Piro, who was forced into the lineup due illness, performed her best routine of the season posting a season-high 9.80 to lead off. Rodriguez followed with a solid routine and a small hop on the dismount and scored 9.80. Next up was Lanz, but when her calf cramped on her mount, she was unable land cleanly and fell. Chong came next with a beautiful routine, but a big step on the dismount left her with another 9.80. Jen Kesler swung to a brilliant routine and a stuck landing to score 9.85 but a second fall for the Beavers by Mak left Oregon State 11th overall.
Alabama and Arkansas took first and second while Utah and UCLA tied for third with the Utes earning the tiebreaker and advancing to the Super Six.
Advancing during the first session were, four-time reigning champion Georgia (197.45), Florida (196.375) and LSU (196.325).
OSU: VAULT: 49.225, BARS: 48.625, BEAM: 48.325, FLOOR: 49.175
* Personal Record, ** Team Record