Stephanie McGregor hasn't been one of the Oregon State gymnasts honored at the end of meets for her event wins or even making the top three.

The junior, however, is one of the most consistent performers for the Beavers.

McGregor leads off on the vault, uneven bars and floor exercise. And with the way gymnastics works, she'll never win an event and has no shot at personal glory no matter what she does.

Even if she performs a perfect routine, judges won't give her a 10.

"I never thought about that before," McGregor said. "In college gymnastics it's about the team and what's best for the team. And I embrace that mentality. I suppose it's possible I could win, but it's unlikely."

Judges increase the scores they give out as a meet progresses. Those who start on an event create a baseline for where the scores start.

The leadoff must be perfect, and hopes to get a 9.9 or higher. If a judge gives a 10 on the first routine, there's nothing to give someone who does better.

Those who follow the leadoff typically improve the scores so the anchor has the chance for the 10 when judges have seen everybody.

"I look at is as super important," McGregor said of leading off. "You are setting the stage for the judge. You build off that first score, so you want a high first score. It's my job to help take the pressure off the anchors. If I do my routine and get a solid score, they don't have to hit a certain score (to keep up with the other team)."

The lowest of the six scores in an event is dropped. The best team scenario is McGregor never scores. When she does that means someone behind her had a bad routine.

McGregor's closest brush with victory came in the fourth meet of the season at Oklahoma. She scored a career-best 9.85 to tie for second on the bars and was honored with flowers for the first time.

"It was bittersweet," McGregor said. "I did a good routine but my teammates struggled who would normally score higher. So in a way I don't want to win the event. If I go out and do a great routine and our anchors do amazing routines and get the 9.95, then I'm happy. So, I guess it is a different mentality."

Coach Tanya Chaplin looks for people who are consistent, don't get rattled easily and manage their warmups better than others to lead off.

Gymnasts have a timed warmup before every event and whoever goes first must be ready when the judges are ready. The rest of the lineup has time to prepare as McGregor competes.

"She is someone the coaches trust, and that means a lot to her," Chaplin said. "She knows how important her role is."

Finding who goes behind the leadoff isn't as easy. In theory, the top gymnast goes last. Who goes in-between depends on individuals.

What Chaplin tries to avoid is sending someone second who can't match McGregor. If she falls, the baseline for the judges is skewed. The No. 6 gymnast might be best hidden in the third slot, Chaplin said.

"You want someone to hit the first routine," Chaplin said. "That keeps everyone calm for the rest of the lineup. You have a solid start."

Melanie Jones is the other regular starter, but on the balance beam. She's one of the top beam competitors but hates to wait her turn.

Chaplin realized Jones does better when she warms up and goes, so she's the perfect beam leadoff.

The Beavers have some of the top bars and beam competitors in the country in Olivia Vivian and Leslie Mak. Vivian is ranked No. 2 on the bars and Mak No. 2 on the beam.

The way the sport works, part of the reason they have such high scores is because of McGregor and Jones.

"When someone has a high score, it's because of what people did before them," Chaplin said. "All-Americans come from what the lineups did before them. That's something you teach them in a team setting."

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