Vaulting over the competition
Published: Friday, January 18, 2013
Updated: Friday, January 18, 2013 01:01
When Hailey Gaspar decided to transfer from Boise State, the Oregon State gymnastics team knew she needed to be targeted.
Gaspar’s specialty is vault. OSU’s worst event (by scores) was vault in 2012. It was the perfect fit.
“When she was looking to transfer we were really excited because she’s a good vaulter,” said associate head coach Michael Chaplin.
And Gaspar has shown immediate results.
In the first two meets of 2013 for the No. 23 Beavers, Gaspar scored a 9.825 (2nd place) in the Cancun Classic on Jan. 4, and a 9.875 (T-1st) in last Friday’s home meet with Ohio State.
“She has so much confidence in her abilities, and that’s great,” said head coach Tanya Chaplin. “She competes hard … so it’s great to see her come in here and really light up that event.”
On last year’s team, there was an anchor for beam (Leslie Mak), bars (Olivia Vivian) and floor (Makayla Stambaugh/Melanie Jones). There was always a go-to person for three of four events. But that presence was lacking on vault.
“Certainly, to have a really dynamic person on an event helps,” Michael Chaplin said. “Because everybody in front, they know they’ve got a big gun in the back.”
Now after the first two meets of the season, it has been vault leading the way for the Beavers.
“It’s a really different thing to have such a strong vault lineup, because in the past it’s always been our weakest,” said senior Kelsi Blalock.
With team scores of 48.850 and 49.150 on vault for OSU, the addition of Gaspar has been apparent, and vault has been the best event for the Beavers thus far in 2013.
And heading into Saturday’s meet at No. 15 Utah, home of the largest crowd in college gymnastics, Gaspar and the vault lineup will look to continue its early-season success.
Gaspar also competed on floor and beam at Boise State, but it’s vault that shows off her talent as a gymnast.
“I absolutely love competing at vault, all that power going towards one thing,” Gaspar said. “It’s over really fast, as opposed to competing beam, where you’re competing on four inches and you’re up there for a minute [and 30 seconds].”
Being a transfer and coming to an unknown environment is never easy, but she actually knew OSU well before she went to Boise State.
“I almost came here right out of high school,” Gaspar said. “It came down to [OSU] and Boise State.”
Aside from the Beavers being one of two finalists, she had connections with a couple of OSU gymnasts. She competed against Stambaugh, Blalock and freshman Erika Aufiero at the club level in high school.
Blalock shared a story about a competition in the level nine Western Championships, a club gymnastics competition when both were in high school.
Blalock and Gaspar were in the same rotation on beam. In Gaspar’s routine, she had two falls. But the judges weren’t paying attention, and Gaspar ended up going again and scoring higher than Blalock.
“I was always bitter about it,” Blalock said. “When she first came here, everyone’s like, ‘Oh how’s Hailey?’ [I responded], ‘She got to go twice on beam. I don’t like her.’”
“A lot of people were mad about that. It’s kind of a weird, cool story though,” Gaspar added.
Blalock is a competitive person, but her statement was said jokingly.
“We ended up going to train at the Olympic Training Center together and we got to be really close,” Blalock said. “I was so excited when she came here.”
Oregon State and Gaspar are both thrilled about how well the transition went. Gaspar needed a change of scenery, and couldn’t be any happier with being in Corvallis and on this team.
“I had a lot of fun at Boise State, but it was my time to go and it was a good chance for me to finish up at another college,” Gaspar said.
Gaspar and Blalock have been mainstays at the end of the vault lineup and will continue to be throughout this season.
Now it’s just a matter of the rest of the rotations catching up to vault.