Kaytianna McMillan

Oregon State's Kaytianna McMillan will lead the Beavers into the NCAA regionals after a two-week layoff.

Anibal Ortiz, Mid-Valley Media

The Oregon State gymnasts are used to the two-week wait between the Pac-12 Championships and the NCAA regionals.

It's the timing of the school calendar that can be a little rough.

Luckily for the No. 8 Beavers, they are working through finals this week and will be in the midst of spring break as they leave for Illinois to compete in the Champaign regional on April 1.

"The difference will be this time coming off of spring break week," coach Tanya Chaplin said. "So hopefully they'll be able to get finals out of the way this week and then be able to focus in and do what they need to do to get ready for the regional championship."

Chaplin said the Beavers weren't sure where they would land, but were pleased with Illinois.

The NCAA clearly wanted the travel to be easy for some of the higher-seeded non-hosting teams.

That allowed the Beavers to stay away from a cross-country trip.

"I think it's good for our athletes," Chaplin said. "We're going to be traveling back there hopefully the next couple weeks after that for St. Louis (to the NCAA Championships), so it gives them that opportunity to go through that travel before we actually head to nationals."

It's the first two-week break for the Beavers since starting the season on Jan. 6 at Auburn.

The Beavers finished second in the Pac-12 Championships at Stanford last weekend, scoring a 197.400 to hold off both UCLA and Washington. Utah won the meet with a 197.925.

Kaytianna McMillan was named as the conference's gymnast of the year at the meet.

It was a successful meet for the Beavers as a team and individually. Erika Aufiero won the bars title with a 9.950, Dani Dessaints tied for first on vault with a 9.950 and tied for second on beam with a 9.950.

"Pac-12s was definitely an incredible experience," McMillan said. "The energy we had throughout the whole meet, it was awesome. It was incredible. The vibes were amazing. We just went up there and did what we know how to do. Obviously, everything wasn't quite perfect yet, but it's not time to peak, so that's what we plan to do at regionals and nationals."

UCLA is the top-seed in the Champaign Regional. Then it's No. 17 Iowa, Illinois, Eastern Michigan and Ohio State, along with several individual competitors.

The Bruins add a level of familiarity to the event for the Beavers.

"Especially having competed against them twice already this season, so we do know we can beat them," McMillan said. "We know who they are, we know their coaches and so I think that's definitely going to be an advantage for us just to have that other Pac-12 school there with us."

Gardner, McMillan are finalists

Oregon State seniors Madeline Gardiner and McMillan have been named as two of seven finalists for the AAI Award, announced by American Athletic, Inc. on Thursday.

The AAI Award annually recognizes the most outstanding senior female gymnast in the nation and is determined by a vote of the sports’ head coaches.

The field, which has been reduced to seven finalists, includes Nicole Artz from Michigan, Chayse Capps from Oklahoma, Ashleigh Gnat from LSU, Peng Peng Lee from UCLA and Baely Rowe from Utah.

All seven finalists will be recognized and the winner will be announced at the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships banquet in April.

Gardiner is currently ranked in a tie for eighth in the nation on the balance beam. The four-time All-American has performed in the all-around eight times for the Beavers in 2017 and has hit all 40 of her routines this season.

McMillan ranks ninth in the country in the all-around. An All-American in 2016, McMillan has performed in the all-around in every meet for the Beavers for the first time in her career and has hit 43 out of 44 routines.

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