As one of the most prolific conferences in gymnastics, programs from the Pac-12—or rather the Pac-10 until 2011—continually shine and give fans moments to cherish every weekend throughout every season. Featuring loaded rosters year after year, Pac-12 teams have been giving fans iconic meets since the earliest days of the sport, with some of the most impressive outings in NCAA history coming from west coast schools.
As a new season is set to get underway sooner rather than later, it’s time to take a look back at some of the most memorable meets in Pac-12 gymnastics history before the 2023 season graces us with its own iconic moments for the gymternet to reflect upon.
1992 Pac-10 Championship
From the start of the conference championship meet in the late 1980s through the start of the 1990s, the Pac-10 championship was, unfortunately, never a close team battle. From 1987-1991 the slimmest margin of victory was eight tenths, with every other gap during that span over a point wide. Thankfully, the 1992 championship started a new and more competitive trend, with Oregon State winning its second title in a row over UCLA by just 15 hundredths of a point.
All-around champion Chari Knight led the way for the Beavers with her then-meet-record 39.550, but two other individuals shined in a way that no others had at the conference championship prior. The first 10s ever awarded at the conference meet were earned in 1992, with Arizona’s Anna Basaldua reaching the mark on vault and Arizona State’s Tina Brinkman notching perfection on floor.
Stanford vs. California (Feb. 20, 2004)
Needing to bounce back from an upset loss at No. 12 Oklahoma the week before, No. 7 Stanford delivered in a huge way on senior night. The Cardinal, which entered its dual with No. 29 California averaging a 196.500 and with a high of 197.400, exploded for an NCAA-record team score of 198.875 thanks to a quartet of perfect 10s. Today, this is still the only time Stanford has broken the 198 barrier.
Stanford’s storied evening started strong thanks to 49.600s on vault and bars with just one counting score below 9.900, setting the stage for beam and floor. The first perfect 10 of the night came on beam—where the Cardinal hit 49.725—from Lise Leveille, who followed up with a second 10.0 on floor. Caroline Fluhrer and Lindsay Wing also went deduction-less in the final rotation to push the Cardinal to a colossal 49.925 event total that’s tied for the highest event total in history (Georgia, vault, 1996).
UCLA vs. Oregon State (Feb. 22, 2004)
At the same time conference rival Stanford was notching the highest score ever, No. 3 UCLA was posting a 193.600 in an upset loss at 49th-ranked Cal State-Fullerton. But, in 2004-fashion, two days later the Bruins responded with a legendary total of their own by matching the Cardinal’s NCAA-record 198.875 with one of their own in a win over No. 18 Oregon State.
UCLA also used a quartet of 10.0s in its historic feat, with superstar Jeanette Antolin starting and ending her day with a pair on vault and floor. Jamie Dantzscher, who had just made her season debut on floor in the Cal State-Fullerton meet after an injury sidelined her the first half of the season, hit perfection in her first bars routine of the year while Kate Richardson matched Antolin on floor. Fan favorite Kristin Maloney also made a huge impact, competing in the all-around for the first time since 2001 and hitting a career high 9.975 on bars.
2004 Pac-10 Championship
After both No. 1 UCLA and No. 6 Stanford recorded the highest-ever scores during the regular season during the same weekend, there was huge anticipation for their showdown at the Pac-12 championship. And they delivered, with the Cardinal topping the Bruins by just a quarter-tenth in the smallest margin of victory ever in the title meet. Fueling the team race was a stellar all-around battle between the top team’s superstars while a familiar face, former Washington star and current Utah associate head coach Carly Dockendorf, added to the excitement.
Trailing heading into the final rotation, the Cardinal’s Natalie Foley secured the upset by sticking her Yurchenko full for a 10.0 and notching an impressive 39.800 to secure the all-around title. That barely beat out Bruin Antolin’s 39.775, which was highlighted by a perfect vault of her own. The third 10 of the meet came on floor, where Antolin’s teammate Richardson hit perfection on floor at Pac-12s for the second year in a row.
2013 Pac-12 Championship
Just two years after winning the final Pac-10 Championship in 2011, Oregon State won its first Pac-12 title in upset fashion. In front of a home crowd, the 10th-ranked Beavers put up a program-record 49.675 on bars in the final rotation to win the meet by nearly half a point over star-studded lineups from No. 7 Utah and No. 8 UCLA. Oregon State’s title-clinching 197.850 is still its highest team total in school history.
After falling on beam to start her day, Beaver Makayla Stambaugh bounced back in a stellar way by hitting three routines for scores of 9.925-plus—including a near-perfect 9.975 on bars to cement her comeback. But, a Bruin totaled the highest individual score of the day, as Vanessa Zamarripa notched a 10 on vault en route to the all-around title over Stanford’s Ivana Hong.
Oregon State vs. Arizona (Feb. 17, 2018)
In a meet as infamous as iconic, No. 11 Oregon State defeated No. 25 Arizona 197.300-145.375 after unfortunate injuries and a handful of suspensions left the Wildcats with a heavily depleted roster. You have to credit Arizona head coach John Court for sticking to his guns and prioritizing the expectations he set for his team, even if it meant a 51-point defeat and ultimately sacrificing a spot in the postseason. The Wildcats ended up with just two vaults, five bar workers, a full lineup on beam and only three gymnasts to perform on floor.
2019 Pac-12 Championship
The 2019 edition of the conference championship was one of the most impressive, with No. 2 UCLA and No. 6 Utah combining for multiple 198s for the first and only time in meet history. A whopping 39.800 in the all-around from Kyla Ross propelled the higher-ranked Bruins to victory 198.40 to 198.025, with UCLA’s total still ranking among the top 20 scores of all time.
Perfect 10s on bars and floor pushed Ross to the all-around crown in a tight race with Ute MyKayla Skinner, who also earned a 10.0 of her own on floor. And, it wasn’t just a two-way tie for the floor title, as Katelyn Ohashi and her viral floor routine worked its magic to earn her a sixth perfect score on the event for the season.
UCLA vs. Utah (Feb. 23, 2020)
Coming into this dual tied at third in the rankings, UCLA and Utah did not disappoint, with the Utes just edging out the Bruins 198.075 to 198.025 in one of the most exciting meets of the last several years. In front of a home crowd and slightly trailing heading into the final rotation, UCLA put up a gigantic 49.800 that would’ve mounted a comeback in most situations, but a similarly impressive 49.775 on beam from Utah sealed the deal for the visitors.
Capping off the Utes’ night was Abby Paulson, who used a walk-off 10.0 on beam to give them the winning margin, even before Ross notched a 9.975 on floor for the Bruins. But, even in the loss, UCLA had a historic moment of its own as its beam lead-off Grace Glenn earned the first perfect 10 from the first position ever in the NCAA.
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Article by Brandis Heffner
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