Bruins Win NCAA West Regional Gymnastics Championships
April 7, 2001
Los Angeles, CA - The top-ranked UCLA gymnastics team qualified for the NCAA Championships after placing first with a score of 197.775 at the West Regional Championships in front of 4,129 at Pauley Pavilion. Oregon State also qualified in second place with a 194.075. In addition, Kelly Parkinson of BYU and Dani Albright of San Jose State qualified as all-around competitors.
The Bruins started off rock-solid on the floor exercise with flawless routines. Kristin Parker led off with a 9.8. Yvonne Tousek and Kristen Maloney followed with a pair of 9.875s. Onnie Willis and Jamie Dantzscher scored 9.9s, and senior Mohini Bhardwaj closed the set with a 9.95, giving UCLA a team total of 49.5 and the lead after one rotation.
UCLA continued its impressive gymnastics in the second rotation. Maloney led off with a 9.8. Parker, Tousek and Willis nailed their landings to the tune of a pair of 9.925 scores, Tousek's being a career-high. Bhardwaj's 9.9 gave UCLA a team score of 49.475 and increased the Bruin score to 98.975, nearly three points ahead of second-place BYU.
Oregon State moved into second place after scoring 49.0 on the balance beam but was still over a point behind the Bruins after two events.
The Bruins increased their lead even more on the uneven bars. Tousek and Doni Thompson recorded 9.9s, and Bhardwaj punctuated the set with a 9.975 to give UCLA a bars total of 49.4.
UCLA closed its meet on the balance beam and recorded five scores of 9.825 or higher - 9.825 from Thompson, 9.85 from Willis, 9.875 from Maloney, 9.9 from Tousek and 9.95 from Bhardwaj. The Bruins' team score on beam was 49.4, increasing their final team total to 197.775.
Bhardwaj won the all-around with a score of 39.775 and placed first on bars, beam and floor. Parker, Willis and Tousek tied for first on vault.
Following the meet, West Region awards were announced. Bhardwaj, the 2001 Pac-10 Gymnast of the Year, also earned West Region Gymnast of the Year honors. Stanford's Mark Cook earned Coach of the Year acclaim, matching his Pac-10 Coach of the Year award. California assistant coach Jennifer Bialosky was named the region's Assistant Coach of the Year, and UCLA Associate Athletic Director Betsy Stephenson earned West Region Administrator of the Year honors.
'I'm beyond thrilled about the way Mo finished her Pauley Pavilion career,' said UCLA head coach Valorie Kondos Field. 'As a whole, the team did great tonight. I was hoping that Pac-10s would be a wake-up call, and you could tell from the very beginning tonight that our intensity was there. This meet felt like nationals did last year. We caught the wave at the beginning and just rode it the whole way through. It's very difficult to start on floor because you want to go all-out, but I think that tonight we responded and had our best floor set of the season.'
'Tonight was exactly what we wanted going into nationals,' said Bhardwaj. 'We still have some small things to fix, but we all responded really well tonight. Even when we had a fall, people got back up and stuck the rest of their routines. Tonight we came in focused but calm. We were a little uptight at Pac-10s, but tonight we were nervous, but loose, which is good.'
Also qualifying for NCAA Championships are Georgia, Denver, Alabama, Arizona State, Utah, Denver, Nebraska and Oklahoma.
UCLA Senior Mohini Bhardwaj
Individually, we set goals on each event. It was something that we could all look for and get excited about. Overall, we came in focused, but calm tonight. We were kind of uptight at Pac-10s.
I wasn't paying attention to my scores at all. My bar routine felt good, but I'm a perfectionist and there are still things that you couldn't see but I felt, and that need to be fixed. Even on the routines I've done that have gotten 10s this year, there have been little things that could be fixed.
This was a perfect meet for us to have going into nationals. We still have small things to fix, but we were solid. People who fell got back up and hit the rest of their routines. That's the way I'd like us to compete.
The team accomplishments are a lot more important to me right now. Once my college career is over, I'll be doing international stuff with USA Gymnastics. That will be the time for individual stuff for me. Right now, it's just something that keeps the fire going for the team.
UCLA Head Coach Valorie Kondos Field
The team did great tonight. I was hoping that Pac-10s would be a wake-up call for us, and we've had several meetings about that. Tonight, I could tell during our creed that our focus had been turned up a notch. This felt like nationals last year. We caught the wave and rode it, instead of swimming upstream like we did at Pac-10s.
All season, we've been able to count a fall and still win. What fun is that?!? We tried hard at Pac-10s and lost. What is our potential worth if we don't commit?
With this team, a 9.9 is status quo. One of the commitments that I made to this team was to keep my focus on them as athletes and not even look at their scores... not let the highs and lows get to me, and that's exactly what we did tonight.
It's hard to start on floor. You want to go all-out, but it's hard to have that kind of energy to start the meet. Despite that, I think that tonight we went out and had the best floor set that we've had all year in a difficult setting. That got us started.
I'm beyond thrilled about the way that Mo ended her Pauley Pavilion career tonight. (West Regional Gymnast of the Year, plus performances tonight)