No. 11 gymnastics hosts No. 15 Arizona, Seattle Pacific
Published: Friday, February 22, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 22, 2013 04:02
After a month on the road, the No. 11 Oregon State gymnastics team returned to Gill Coliseum with a bang.
The Beavers took down then-No. 4 UCLA in Saturday night’s meet. OSU scored a 196.725, its second highest team total of the 2013 season.
OSU hosts No. 15 Arizona and Seattle Pacific tonight at 7 p.m. at Gill Coliseum.
Last year’s team saw the same four gymnasts doing all-around nearly every week (Leslie Mak, Makayla Stambaugh, Melanie Jones, Brittany Harris), with Olivia Vivian competing on three of the four routines.
It’s been evident that this season there is more depth for the Beavers. And more depth means it is becoming increasingly difficult for a gymnast to crack the lineup.
“This year, I look at it and go, ‘It’s getting hard to make our lineups,’” said associate head coach Michael Chaplin. “There are some good routines that may not get in. You have to have a good week and a good warm-up if you want to compete at the meet. That’s a good thing.”
For most of the season it was only Stambaugh and Harris competing in the all-around, but Saturday’s win over the Bruins might allow some gymnasts to take on bigger roles for the rest of the season.
Senior Kelsi Blalock and sophomore Chelsea Tang both competed all-around Saturday.
“For both Kelsi and Chelsea, it’s great because it makes us stronger,” Chaplin said. “It’s good to see them reaching their potential.”
It was just the second time this year for Blalock, who led the Beavers and placed third overall in the Metroplex Challenge on Jan. 26.
“Most of us train for all four [events], and we want to be in all four apparatuses,” Blalock said. “It’s a personal triumph to be in all four lineups, but it’s not going to be like that every week.”
Blalock has been a mainstay on vault, balance beam and floor exercise for the last two years, but uneven bars had always been the Achilles’ heel that kept her from being an all-arounder.
“It’s a fight each week in the lineup,” Blalock said. “I definitely want to be in all-around each week, but with the bar lineup, we have nine good bar routines. It’s going to be a fight, but I think it’s going to be good for all of us because it’s making us all better.”
Consistency has been key in Blalock’s progression on bars, Chaplin said.
For Chelsea Tang, it’s been a progression over time for her to become an all-arounder. After only competing in one event in the first two meets, Tang has been in the all-around lineup in three of the past four meets.
“This past couple months I’ve gotten a lot more consistent in practice,” Tang said. “That has really made my confidence go up.”
Tang’s emergence has extra importance for the future of this team, since there will be five seniors leaving after this year.
“Chelsea has just gotten better and stronger,” Chaplin said. “It’s good because she’s a sophomore, and next year she’s going to be a junior and one of our leaders. The experience this year will help us next year.”
After a disappointing 193.600 team score in OSU’s opening meet in Cancun, Mexico, the team has risen in the rankings all the way from No. 23 to No. 11 now.
“We’ve kind of turned our Cancun competition into a verb,” Stambaugh said. “We say, ‘Don’t Cancun it.’ We started off pretty weak, but every competition we’ve improved in some area. I see the confidence in everyone.”
Other than the Beavers’ top score of the year (Jan. 26 at the Metroplex Challenge), each week the team has improved its score.
There’s still plenty to work on. Blalock said head coach Tanya Chaplin wanted to see improvement on floor landings after the UCLA meet. The Beavers are clicking, but it’s making the small details in a routine flawless that will vault them through regionals and nationals.
“Come postseason, they’re not going to just give you scores,” Blalock said. “So we need to clean up and make sure we’re ready for tight scoring in postseason.”
Aside from the importance of the meet itself, it will also be the eighth annual Pink Out meet. A silent auction and the Pink Out Breakfast will be held at the club level of Reser Stadium on Saturday at 10 a.m. All proceeds will be donated to the Corvallis Clinic Foundation’s Project H.E.R., which is a “comprehensive breast health services program available to women in Benton, Linn and Lincoln counties,” according to the clinic website.
“It’s exciting because, obviously, it’s a big meet for us with Arizona and SPU coming to town, but it’s also a great way to give back to the community and show our support for Project H.E.R. and cancer awareness issues,” Michael Chaplin said. “It has extra meaning to us and the team responds well to that.”