CHAMPAIGN, Illinois -- It wasn't easy for the No. 8 Oregon State gymnastics team.
The Beavers had to overcome a few miscues at the Champaign Regional, and they did just that, finishing with a 196.150 to hold off Iowa for second and a trip to the NCAA Championships in St. Louis.
UCLA won the meet with a 196.800.
The regional meet marked the second time this season Kaytianna McMillan has been called upon in the final floor routine in a huge moment. Back in January she came through with a 9.925 to beat Utah 196.550-196.525. Tonight, with the Beavers, needing a 9.80 in the meet’s final moment, McMillan scored 9.875
“Any time you advance to nationals it’s a huge deal. It is a tough challenge,” head coach Tanya Chaplin said. “We look at the parity across the nation and know it doesn’t matter where you’re ranked you know it’s going to be a battle all the way through. We are feeling very proud to represent this region moving forward. We knew it would be a battle when we came here and knew this would be a fight and are pleased that we are advancing on because we didn’t make it easy on ourselves.”
It wasn’t a smooth ride for the Beavers on Saturday fighting through a pair of falls, the first time they had fallen twice in a meet since the second week of the season.
"We were pleased that we still made it with the errors that we had," Chaplin said. "We're feeling grateful that we made it through."
OSU's final score broke a string of 197s for the Beavers. McMillan said the team can use that to spark its workouts leading to nationals.
"It's something we can use this week as motivation for the next two weeks of training," McMillan said. "We can work really hard on all those details, the handstands and the landings, so we can be competitive with all those other teams."
McMillan won the all-around with a score of 39.400 and tied for the meet-high on the floor with a 9.875.
It was a notable accomplishment for her after getting hurt at regionals two years ago and having some trouble on beam last season.
"So coming into this regional and putting up some good gymnatics, it's a good feeling," McMillan said.
Dani Dessaints was the regional champion on the vault with a 9.925.
The Beavers began the meet on the vault piecing together a team score of 49.025 to get off to a solid start. Madeline Gardiner produced a strong vault and the Beavers’ first stick of the day as she began to loosen up the judges for a score of 9.775. Mary Jacobsen followed by matching Gardiner’s 9.775 to set up McMillan who performed a big vault to post a score of 9.850. Dessaints’ vault was complete with huge air and a stuck landing to score 9.925, a score that would hold up throughout the afternoon as the meet’s top score.
Following a bye, the Beavers, sitting at 49.025, moved to the uneven bars sitting in third place behind host and fourth-seeded Illinois (49.050), and just ahead of Iowa at 49.000. Shireen Khamedoost opened the bars rotation with a solid routine but after fighting to stick the dismount ended up with a knee down. Gardiner got the rotation re-started with a strong routine and a score of 9.75. Jacobsen added a 9.775 and Erika Aufiero scored 9.80. McMillan turned in the team’s top score at 9.85 to give OSU a total of 48.850 on the event.
Oregon State was firmly in third place with a score of 97.875 at the halfway point trailing UCLA (98.450) and Illinois (98.250) with three-seed Iowa trailing (97.600).
After regrouping before heading to the balance beam, senior Megan Jimenez got the Beavers settled and headed in the right direction with a strong opening set to score 9.825. Silvia Colussi-Pelaez and McMillan added matching scores of 9.825 as well. Dessaints followed with a fantastic routine to score 9.875 and set up Gardiner to close out the rotation on a strong note with a 9.90. The Beavers’ 49.250 on the beam was their highest event total of the afternoon and helped close the gap with the Illini.
"We had a fall on bars and some steps on dismounts but came back really strong on beam, which was nice to see," Chaplin said.
In the fifth rotation, while the Beavers were on their second bye, Illinois ran into a rough patch on the floor exercise finishing the rotation with a score of 48.875 and entered the final stanza tied with the Beavers at 147.125 for second place and comfortably ahead of Iowa (146.450).
The sixth rotation featured Oregon State on the floor, Illinois on the vault, where scoring had been tight all day, and Iowa on the beam. UCLA ended the meet in first place on a bye with a score of 196.800. Senior Taylor Ricci performed a solid routine to score 9.80 and set a solid foundation for the Beavers, while the Illini produced lesser scores on the vault.
However, Aufiero, in the second spot, over-rotated on her opening tumbling pass and fell out of bounds. Freshman Isis Lowery followed by Colussi-Pelaez posted solid, high-pressure routines to record scores of 9.70 and 9.80 respectively. Gardiner’s graceful routine impressed the judges and resulted in a score of 9.850, setting the table for McMillan’s final routine.
"They learned a lot this weekend," Chaplin said. "I definitely think going through these challenges and adversity makes you stronger."
Following the meet, OSU coaches Michael Chaplin and Brian Amato were honored as the West Region Assistant Coaches of the Year by the National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches/Women (NACGC/W) and OSU Deputy Athletics Director, Marianne Vydra received the West Region Administrator of the Year award for the second year in a row.