For the Oregon State Beavers, the 2019 season has been a story of redemption and triumph. After missing out on a spot at nationals in 2018, the Beavers came into the new year wanting to make a statement this season.

Upsetting the number four-ranked and three-time NCAA national champions Florida Gators in the NCAA Corvallis Regional super regional round to qualify to the NCAA Championships was perhaps the biggest statement this team could make. The Beavers are headed to Fort Worth and may be the underdogs, but they can keep up with the top teams and they are coming in to Texas ready to fight.

Sophomore star and Beaver leader Kaitlyn Yanish’s favorite thing about collegiate gymnastics is that it feels like a second family. She chose to come to Corvallis because of head coach Tanya Chaplin. Yanish knew that the coaching staff cared about the gymnasts not just as athletes, but also as people.

Kaitlyn Yanish performs on the floor exercise for the Oregon State Beavers in Corvallis, Oregon/Oregon State Sports

The Beavers are a tight-knit team who are “fierce, awesome, and unreal,” as Yanish said, and everyone gives their all. Yanish knew that they were capable of performing to a much higher standard than what they showed in 2018- where a disastrous showing at regionals meant another year of missing nationals and an embarrassing 27th spot in the final rankings for a former Pac 12 powerhouse-, and started the season off feeling confident and wanting to do the best gymnastics possible. 

Going into the regional competition, which Oregon State hosted inside their own Gill Coliseum in Corvallis, the Beavers didn’t let the pressure of earning a spot at nationals get to them. They scored a 197.125 in the regional round, their second highest score of the season, and showing that they were there to fight for a spot they felt they deserved.

In the super regional on Saturday night in front of an electric home crowd, Yanish knew after the first rotation that the Beavers could keep up with the top teams such as Florida and Denver. The home crowd and the team had “a really good energy,” and the Beavers kept that momentum going.

In the last rotation, Yanish clinched the meet for Oregon State on the floor exercise. Before her routine, she didn’t know what score was needed for the Beavers to advance, just needing to “land on my feet, don’t overthink it, and give it my all.” In the end, she went above and beyond, scoring a 9.900 to edge out the Gators for second and qualify to nationals in a truly stunning upset. After her routine, head coach Chaplin gave Yanish a hug and said, “you just won yourself a ticket to nationals, sweetheart.”

The Oregon State Beavers celebrate after qualifying to nationals at the NCAA Corvallis Regional super regional in Corvallis, Oregon/Oregon State Sports

In their preparation for nationals, the Beavers’ mindset is that they really are as good and capable as everybody else despite coming in ranked number eight of eight teams. They may be the underdogs in terms of overall scores, but they are one of the fiercest teams out there.

The Beavers have the skills, the difficulty, and the showmanship, and are now focusing on making their gymnastics clean and sharp. They will face off against the number one Oklahoma Sooners, the Denver Pioneers, and the Georgia Bulldogs in the second semifinal of the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships in Fort Worth, Texas on Friday.

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