Cardinal women host Pac-12 Championships | March 17, 2017 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - March 17, 2017

Cardinal women host Pac-12 Championships

Stanford's Price ranks fourth nationally on the bars

by Greg Marsh/Stanford

Stanford junior gymnast Elizabeth Price is a six-time All-American, an NCAA vault champion, Pac-12 Gymnnast of the Year, Pac-12 Specialist of the Year.

Price currently tanks fourth nationally on the bars with an average score of 9.872. The Cardinal ranks 16th nationally on the vault.

Price and the Stanford women's gymnastics team will be performing at the Pac-12 championships, to be held at Maples Pavilion on Saturday beginning at 1 p.m.

Stanford is hosting the conference championships for the first time since 2009, when current Arizona coach Tabitha Yim earned a spot in the NCAA regional individual championships while competing for Stanford.

The Pac-12 Conference boasts seven of the nation's top 31 teams, with UCLA ranked third, Utah fifth and Oregon State 10th.

Washington ranks No. 15, California is at No. 16, Arizona at No. 30 and Stanford at No. 31.

While the Cardinal (6-11) may not be the favorite, there's still plenty of excellence to go around.

Stanford will compete in the first of two sessions and will be joined by California, Arizona and Arizona State.

The second session will begin at 6 p.m. and include UCLA, Utah, Oregon State and Washington. Both sessions will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.

Each team will hold a public workout on Friday, free admission, beginning at 1 p.m. with Cal, Arizona, Stanford and Arizona State practicing until 2:40 p.m. and the other four teams beginning at 3:30 p.m.

Stanford has finished fourth or higher in 15 of the past 16 conference championships. Since the conference championships began in 1987, UCLA has won 17 titles, Oregon State has claimed six, the Cardinal holds five and Utah has two.

Stanford finished first at the conference championships in 1998, 2001, 2004, 2006 and 2008.

Saturday, Stanford opens on bars and then rotates through beam, floor and vault.

Three Stanford gymnasts combined for three individual event victories but it was not enough to cover a challenging day at the regular-season ending George Washington Quad Meet. The Cardinal finished fourth.

Price finished first on bars with a 9.925 and Ashley Tai and Nicolette McNair tied for the individual victory on beam with scores of 9.875.

Stanford seniors Rachel Daum, Danielle McNair, Nicolette McNair and Haley Spector have each made contributions to the program throughout their four years. They have excelled in practice, in the classroom and on the competition floor.

The group has helped Stanford reach the NCAA championships in each of their first three seasons, including a 2015 Super Six appearance.

Stanford returns six gymnasts and 14 routines from last year's NCAA championship roster. The Cardinal has four gymnasts who were part of the lineups that competed in the 2015 NCAA Super Six finals in Fort Worth, Texas, on the Cardinal's fifth-place team. Stanford is one of seven teams in the nation to make at least seven Super Six appearances in the past 15 years (2002-16). (Alabama-14, Utah-11, Georgia-11, UCLA-10, Florida-10, Stanford-7, Nebraska-7)

The Cardinal coaching staff enters each season with a carefully calculated outline of goals for different points during the season. A major focus for the beginning of the season is on consistency, building depth in lineups and health. As the season continues, the Cardinal adds difficulty and unique elements to routines to ensure it peaks during postseason competition.

It should come as no surprise, then, if the Cardinal provide electrifying performances during the conference championships.

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