CORVALLIS, Ore. – For the second time in three year the Oregon State took home the conference championship trophy. The Beavers, who won the Pac-10 Championship in 2011, picked up their first Pac-12 title Saturday evening and set a new scoring standard at OSU with a 197.850. Makayla Stambaugh won the uneven bars title and Melanie Jones tied for the title on the floor exercise.
“I knew this was going to a tough meet,” head coach Tanya Chaplin said. “These are all very talented teams and we knew we had to be our best to pull it out. It was close all night and I knew we were in a dog fight with Utah and UCLA and Stanford were not that far behind. There is guarantee with anything and we don’t assume anything. We go one performance at a time and just focus on that athlete at that moment.”
Oregon State surpassed the 197-point mark for the third straight week, but Saturday the Beavers crushed the mark exceeding the previous school scoring record of 197.675. Along the way the Beavers’ bars team, which closed the meet, set an OSU scoring record on the apparatus with an impressive set of six brilliant routines to tally 49.675.
“I knew the scores were there, but I didn’t know it was going to be that high,” Chaplin said. “We were hoping to break 197 and we definitely did that. That was our goal and I don’t think we really realized it until after Brittany Harris’ (bars) routine and at the point we had a 197.700. Then Makayla raised it even higher.”
OSU remains undefeated in Gill Coliseum over the last two years. In five home meets this year the Beavers now have a record of 13-0 and the undefeated streak moves to 13 meets dating back to Jan. 28, 2011. During that time OSU has a record of 26-0-1.
The Beavers, seeded third in the meet, managed to set records and keep their unbeaten streak alive despite a rough beginning to the meet and twice putting extra pressure on themselves. However, as a team the group picked each other up and carried on to pull out the upset on their home floor.
Beginning on the balance beam, Kelsi Blalock got the Beavers out to a strong start but an uncharacteristic fall in the meet’s second routine by Stambaugh put the Orange and Black in a make-or-break situation right out of the chute. Steady sophomore Katelyn Ohlrich came through in the clutch tying her career-high with a beautiful routine and a score of 9.85 and the Beavers were on their way. Chelsea Tang tied her career-best with a 9.90 and Jones scored 9.875 in the anchor slot to give OSU a 49.275 team score and a third-place start in what would be a close competition throughout.
In the second rotation, the Beavers put on a show on the floor exercise. Cerise Witherby set a personal best of 9.825 out of the gate and scores went up from there. Tang scored 9.85 and Brittany Harris got the crowd going with a 9.825 and Blalock scored a career-high 9.90. Jones performed a near-flawless routine to score 9.95 and Stambaugh closed the event with a 9.925, including a perfect 10.0 from one judge. The Beavers tallied a season-best 49.450 on the floor and nudged into second place behind Utah with UCLA falling from first to third.
With two of their strongest events still ahead of them, the Beavers were in a favorable position. Stephanie McGregor scored 9.80 to start and Jones added a 9.85, before another uncharacteristic miss was taken by the Beavers, this time by Tang. Hailey Gaspar responded with one of her strongest vaults of the season scoring 9.90 and Stambaugh and Blalock set personal bests with matching scores of 9.95.
Heading into the final rotation, the Beavers trailed the Utes 148.250-148.175 but had begun to put distance on UCLA and Stanford. A record-setting set on the bars including six straight stuck dismounts had the crowd of 3,022 roaring its approval. Hannah Casey set the tone with a career-best tying 9.825, followed by an incredible performance from McGregor, who set a career-high with a 9.95. Tang scored 9.875 followed by freshman Erika Aufiero, who added a career-best 9.925, and Harris, who one-upped Aufiero with her own personal record of 9.95. Stambaugh closed the meet with a 9.975 including a pair of 10.0’s.
The Beavers have a week off before hosting the 2013 NCAA Corvallis Regional Championships at Gill Coliseum Saturday, Mar. 23. The NCAA Regional Selection Show will air at NCAA.com Monday at 12 p.m. PT determining which teams will make their way to each of the six regionals.