UCLA Gymnasts Battle Each Other, Nebraska, ASU In Season Opener

Jan. 2, 2001

UCLA vs. UCLA - The UCLA women's gymnastics team ended the 2000 season as the top team in the nation after winning its second NCAA title in four years. UCLA was unbeatable at the Championships, hitting 48 for 48 routines over two nights of competition.

Can UCLA remain unbeatable in the 2001 opener at the Maui Invitational? Not likely. Especially when one of UCLA's opponents IS UCLA, which ensures that at least one Bruin team will be beaten in the opener. The pre-season No. 1-ranked Bruins will compete as a split squad in its season opener, with two UCLA teams competing separately against each other, Nebraska and Arizona State. This is believed to be the first time in NCAA history that a university has competed in a meet as two separate gymnastics squads.

The meet, which is hosted by the Maui Gymnastics club, will take place on Friday, Jan. 5 at the Lahaina Civic Center in Maui at 6:00 pm local time.

A LOOK AT THE FIELD - Sixth-ranked Nebraska placed fourth at last year's NCAA Championships, its best finish in history. The Huskers return three All-Americans -A.J. Lamb, Julie Houk and Amy Ringo. Eleventh-ranked Arizona State just missed out on a trip to nationals after placing third at the regional meet. The Sun Devils, 13-4 last season, return 1999 All-American Kelly Christensen-Cowley.

BRUINS RANKED NO. 1 IN PRE-SEASON - UCLA will begin the 2001 season as the No. 1-ranked team, earning 22 of 29 first-place votes in the pre-season coaches' poll. The Bruins will face each of the other Top 7 schools this season - No. 2 Georgia Mar. 18, No. 3 Michigan Mar. 9, No. 4 Utah Jan. 21, No. 5 Alabama Jan. 28, No. 6 Nebraska Jan. 5 and No. 7 Stanford Jan. 19. Other Top 25 teams on UCLA's schedule are No. 11 Arizona State (Jan. 5), No. 12 Oregon State (Feb. 16), No. 16 Washington (Feb. 11) and No. 20 Arizona (Feb. 11).

VAULTERS GET NO SECOND CHANCE - In accordance with new rules in NCAA competition, gymnasts must compete just one vault in this upcoming season. In the past, gymnasts were allowed to compete two vaults and throw out the low score.

NATIONAL CHAMPION BRUINS RETURN - UCLA is the defending NCAA, Regional and Pac-10 team champion and returns nine letterwinners from that team, including 2000 NCAA uneven bars champion Mohini Bhardwaj (Cincinnati, OH), All-American sophomores Onnie Willis (Tacoma, WA) and Kristin Parker (Hanford, CA) and Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Doni Thompson (Olympia, WA). Also returning are sensational sophomores Malia Jones (Sparks, NV) and Carly Raab (Seattle, WA), as well as junior veterans Lindsey Dong (San Jose, CA), Stephanie Johnson (Ann Arbor, MI) and Valerie Velasco (Fullerton, CA). The Bruins are coached by three-time national coach of the year Valorie Kondos Field.

OLYMPIC GYMNASTS HEADLINE FRESHMAN CLASS - For the second consecutive season, Kondos Field has recruited the nation's top freshman class. Headlining the Class of 2004 are 2000 Olympians Jamie Dantzscher (San Dimas, CA), Kristen Maloney (Pen Argyl, PA) and Yvonne Tousek (Cambridge, Ont.), 2000 U.S. Olympic alternate Alyssa Beckerman (Middletown, NJ) and U.S. Olympic Trials competitor Jeanette Antolin (Huntington Beach, CA). In addition, UCLA adds four other freshmen to its star-studded lineup - Angie D'Agostino (Simi Valley, CA), Christy Erickson (Pomona, CA), Trishna Patel (Northridge, CA) and Jamie Williams (Tucson, AZ).

BRUINS SURROUNDED BY NATIONAL CHAMPIONS - If any one team in the nation knows what it takes to win, it is UCLA. Not only have nine Bruins won an NCAA team title, but many have won national championships for their respective countries. Included amongst UCLA's national champions are: Kristen Maloney (1998, 1999 U.S. all-around and 2000 vault and floor champ), Yvonne Tousek (2000 Canadian all-around, bars and floor champ, 1999 floor and vault champ), Jamie Dantzscher (1999 U.S. bars champ), Alyssa Beckerman (2000 U.S. beam champ) and Doni Thompson (1995 U.S. beam champ), not to mention defending NCAA bars champion Mohini Bhardwaj.

DANTZSCHER FINALLY JOINS BRUINS - Freshman Jamie Dantzscher joined her teammates on campus for the first time shortly after Christmas. Dantzscher, a member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic team, did not start school in the fall, choosing instead to travel the country on a post-Olympic gymnastics tour. Recently, Dantzscher placed first at the Rock 'N Roll Gymnastics Championships, defeating, among others, 2000 Olympic gold medalist Svetlana Khorkina and 1996 gold medalists Amy Chow, Shannon Miller and Dominique Moceanu.

OLYMPIAN JOINS UCLA COACHING STAFF - Dantzscher, Maloney and Tousek are not the only Bruins with Olympic experience. Nineteen-ninety-two Japanese Olympian Mari Kosuge begins her first year on the staff as a volunteer assistant coach. Kosuge was the Japanese all-around champion from 1988-1992 and competed in four World Championships before retiring in 1995.

HEAD COACH VALORIE KONDOS FIELD - In her 11th season as head coach of the Bruins, Valorie Kondos Field has positioned her team as the premier program in collegiate gymnastics. Not only has she consistently recruited the top talent in the world, but she has produced the results. In the past five years alone, Kondos Field has led UCLA to two NCAA titles and one runner-up finish, four Regional titles and three Pac-10 Championships. She has been voted the national coach of the year by her peers three times in the past five years.

BRUINS SIGN ANOTHER IMPRESSIVE RECRUITING CLASS - Following two straight top-notch recruiting class that saw the likes of Onnie Willis, Doni Thompson, Kristen Maloney, Jamie Dantzscher, et. al come to Westwood, head coach Valorie Kondos Field has signed another stellar class for the 2002 season. Set to join the Bruins next year are 2000 Canadian Olympian Michelle Conway and Level 10 standout Christie Tedmon.

Conway, who trains at Sport Seneca under coach Carol Orchard, had a 13th-place finish on the floor exercise at the Olympic Games. At the 2000 Canadian Championships, she placed third in the all-around, vault and beam, second on floor and fourth on bars. In 1999, she led her team to a gold medal at the Pan American Games and became the first Canadian woman in 20 years to win a Pan Am Games individual medal in the all-around when she captured the silver. Conway also competed at the 1999 World Championships.

Tedmon is a former international elite gymnast from Pozsar's Gymnastics. In 2000, she won a silver medal on floor at the Level 10 National Championships and also took third in the all-around and vault and second on beam at the Region 1 Championships. In 1998, competing as an international elite, she qualified for the American Classic and placed first in the all-around, vault, beam and floor at the Region 1 Zone Championships. Tedmon competed at three Level 10 National Championships and won two regional vault titles in 1996 and 1997, as well as a regional floor title in 1997.

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