Beavers in the win column
Published: Monday, January 14, 2013
Updated: Monday, January 14, 2013 01:01
It wasn’t the prettiest way to win, but the No. 9 Oregon State gymnastics team edged out No. 14 Ohio State, 195.375-195.000, on Friday night at Gill Coliseum.
The Beavers (1-2) made a statement early in the meet that the sub-194 score from a week before in the Cancun Classic was a fluke.
Seniors Kelsi Blalock and Hailey Gaspar led the way on Oregon State’s first event, vault, with scores of 9.875 each. The team vault score of 49.150 is the highest for an event so far this season, for OSU.
“It was really important getting off to a fast start because Ohio State is a good team,” said junior Brittany Harris, who scored a 9.850 on vault. “Having this good score, it’ll be good to build off of further down the road.”
For the Beavers, getting in the win column was necessary because of the 0-2 start. Progression was visible Friday night.
“They definitely made a lot of improvements,” said head coach Tanya Chaplin. “We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but I like to see the positive steps that we made, especially on bars.”
After the impressive vault performance from the Beavers, they followed up with a quality showing on the uneven bars, totaling 49.075, and have every single gymnast improve on their score from the week before.
The Beavers had a 98.225-97.275 lead over the Buckeyes (1-1). It may appear to be a slim margin, but a one-point lead halfway through the meet is significant.
Things looked back to normal for Oregon State at that point, until falls on beam from Harris and senior Makayla Stambaugh made certain victory seem shakier.
“Beam is very mental, and I’ve been kind of dealing with some body aches, with some different things, and it’s kind of been messing with my mental frame of mind,” Stambaugh said.
The Beavers scored 48.275 on beam, which has been the weak point for the team in their first two meets of the season.
The team, however, is not worried yet.
“It’s still the beginning of the season,” Harris said. “We’re getting out the jitters now so that when Pac-12s, regionals and nationals come, we’ll be solid. So I’m not worried.”
Heading into the fourth and final event of the night, the Beavers needed to have a strong finish on floor to seal the victory.
Things got rocky early when Oregon State freshman Sarah Marquez went down with a right knee injury. Marquez was helped off the floor, and her status is still uncertain. The coaching staff will likely disclose the severity of the injury today.
Losing Marquez will hurt the Beavers’ depth, as she was competing in vault and floor.
“The best thing that we can do as a team is to come back strong and finish out strong,” Chaplin said about the reaction after Marquez’s injury.
With Marquez unable to finish, the final four routines for the Beavers (Harris, Blalock, senior Melanie Jones and Stambaugh) had to be executed without any mistakes.
The experience of the four upperclassmen was evident, and the Beavers went on to lock up the victory after Stambaugh’s 9.900 — the highest individual score of the night — concluded the meet.
“I wasn’t really paying attention to scores,” Stambaugh said. “When I pay attention, I get more nervous, so I was focused on what I needed to do to benefit the team. That’s kind of what helps me stay in the zone.”
For Oregon State, the win over a top-15 team was what they needed. The team also knows how much better it can be.
“We improved in some areas, but we still have some work to do, obviously,” Stambaugh said. “With good leadership, I think we can work toward becoming a really great team. I’m excited to see what we’re capable of.”
The Beavers are in Salt Lake City on Saturday for a four-team meet with No. 5 Utah, No. 24 West Virginia and Southern Utah.
It is the first of four consecutive road meets for the Beavers.
Warner Strausbaugh, sports editor