It was only a matter of time before some sort of recognition was going to come to Kaitlyn Yanish this season.
Yanish, a sophomore, was named the Pac-12 specialist of the week on Tuesday for her performance at Arizona State last weekend. Yanish scored a 9.900 to win vault and then tied with teammate Isis Lowery for the floor title with a 9.925.
Yanish has been big on the floor all season for the Beavers. After a 9.725 at Illinois to start the schedule, she scored a 9.850 against Utah and has since been on a streak of 9.900 or better. She had a 9.900 at Washington, a career-best 9.975 against UCLA, a 9.900 at Arizona and a 9.950 in a meet against California before last week’s score.
Her improvement on vault has also been important for the team. She started out with three 9.800s, had back to back 9.875s against UCLA and Arizona and a 9.850 versus Cal before finally breaking the 9.900 barrier.
“I feel like I can definitely help out the team,” Yanish said of her performances. “Everybody on this team has a place and a part in what they contribute, but even on the days that I feel I can’t contribute, like I’m hurting or somebody else is putting up a routine, it’s really nice to know that I have their back and they have my back. So contributing is always great but obviously I want the best for the team.”
Yanish is naturally a very powerful gymnast with a lot of bounce on the events. The key to her success this season has been her ability to rein in that power, particularly when landing.
OSU coach Tanya Chaplin and associate head coach Michael Chaplin have helped Yanish work on her landings.
“The one thing that she’s really focused in on are her landings and that has made a huge difference for her because her vaults are really dynamic, they’re huge. They have the distance, everything you want,” Tanya Chaplin said. “But last year she would take a huge hop, almost like a two-tenth (deduction) hop and that made a difference; trying to eliminate her landing deductions has really made a difference and she sees that and has been fighting harder and harder for all of her landings.
“It’s a 9.950 start, so when she was getting 9.750s, that was most of her deduction right there. So you can see why she’s going 9.875, 9.900 now with not taking those big hops.”
Said Yanish: “Tanya and Michael really wanted to try to control that once I got here my freshman year because landing with straight legs and flying out of every skill is definitely not ideal, so we’ve just been working on absorbing the landings and bending my knees when I land and just more awareness when I land.
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“I feel like everything looks cleaner, it looks more put-together. I feel better doing the skills, not like I’m going to go flying out of every single one of them. It’s been a confidence booster being able to control my tricks and my landings.”
Yanish was solid on vault throughout her freshman season, scoring three 9.800s, a 9.825 and hitting her then-career high of 9.850 in four meets.
Floor, however, was the event Yanish established herself among the best at OSU. She had three 9.875s, three 9.900s, including one at the Raleigh Regional. She had one 9.925 and three 9.950s.
Yanish said she started to put together a new routine during the offseason, but wound up sticking with the usual one for 2019.
“Being home and training at my old gym I just focused on consistency and the skills I’ve already had because I feel like they were there last year but they definitely could use some more details, just sticking the landings, being a little tighter in the air on floor and stuff like that. And I focused a lot on trying to find a new routine and get new music going or whatever but that took a little bit longer than expected,” she said.
“My passes have been the same, but even compared to club you can tell that the power that I have and the form that I have has definitely improved, even from last year to this year and especially from my senior year to this year. It hasn’t changed much but the confidence in me doing it over and over has helped a ton.”
Yanish has also competed some on bars and beam this season, but is still working on getting up to speed on both events.
As a sophomore, she has also become more comfortable with the life of a college gymnast.
“I feel like I know what’s ahead and how long the season is and how my body’s going to start to feel as the weeks go by,” Yanish said. “Last year, it was a good season, but I feel like I’m more prepared going into this season for sure. I know what to expect, what the meets are like. There’s a few places we haven’t been, obviously, but for the most part I know how to approach all of the meets and it feels really fun to be competing instead of me feeling a little bit nervous, stressed out. It’s been really fun this year.”