No. 18 Cal (12-5, 2-4) Heads to NCAA Regional Championships
April 8, 2003
POSTSEASON: Fresh off a seventh-place showing at the Pac-10 Championships, the 18th-ranked Bears (12-5, 2-4, Pac-10) face their stiffest test of the year this weekend at the six-team NCAA North Central Regional Championships Saturday, April 12 at 5:00 p.m. at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. The top two teams will automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships in Lincoln, Neb., April 24-26.
THE FIELD: This year's North Central Regional is the only one of six regionals where all six teams are ranked in the Top 25. The six teams to qualify are: No. 6 Stanford, No. 8 Utah, No. 18 California, No. 20 Brigham Young, No. 21 Denver and No. 23 Minnesota. Four at-large all-arounders and four individual event specialists will also compete, as Utah State's Nicole Kilpatrick will compete with Cal. Against the field all-time, Cal is 15-23 vs. Stanford, 0-2 vs. Utah, 1-0 vs. Brigham Young, 2-3 vs. Denver and 3-0 vs. Minnesota.
TICKET TALK: Tickets for the NCAA Regional Championships may be purchased by calling Utah's ticket office at 801-581-UTIX or online at www.UtahUtes.com. Ticket prices range from $3-$13. Adult reserved is $10 and $13, youth reserved is $8, family reserved is $5, adult general admission is $4 and youth general admission is $3.
REGIONAL ROTATION: The competition rotation calls for Cal to perform in the same order that it has all season: vault, bye, bars, beam, bye and floor. The NCAA conducts a random draw to determine each team's rotation in the postseason.
REGIONAL TRIVIA: This season's regional showing will be Cal's first appearance in postseason competition since a fifth-place finish in 2001. Since becoming a varsity program in 1974, the Golden Bears have participated in 14 NCAA regional competitions and two NorPac regionals (1980, 1981), with its best finish being a second place showing in 1991.
COACH OF THE YEAR: In a vote by Pac-10 coaches prior to the Pac-10 Championships in Los Angeles, California's first-year head coach, Cari DuBois, was named Co-Pac-10 Coach of the Year. DuBois, the second California coach to ever receive the award, shared the honor with UCLA's head coach Valorie Kondos Field.
STORYBOOK SEASON: The Bears concluded the regular season with a 12-5 mark, the program's best record since the 1994 squad finished the season 14-2. The team rewrote nearly every individual and team category in the Cal record book this year, including breaking three team records while claiming a second-place mark on the floor and third on the bars. Against Washington and Sacramento St. (2/21), the Bears established a new Cal team record on the vault with a 49.375 mark - besting the previous all-time high of 49.125. On the balance beam, the Golden Bears edged out the previous school record of 49.150 with a 49.175 set at the Cal Invitational (2/9), and then outdid themselves once again vs. Arizona with a 49.250 (3/7). In the all-around, the 2003 squad bested the previous all-time record four times this year. The current team record of 196.800 was tallied vs. Arizona March 7, while the other three were posted vs. Washington State Feb. 21 (196.475), Feb. 9 at the Cal Invitational (196.375) and Feb. 28 at the UNO Classic (196.100).
ONE OF THE NATION'S BEST: Cal's My-Lan Dodd has had a breakout sophomore season, recording career-high marks in every individual event, including the all-around. The Seattle, Wash. native now owns at least a share of first place in Cal's record books on the vault (9.950) and beam (9.950), second place on floor (9.925) and third on bars (9.925). This season, Dodd has broken her own Cal record five times in the individual all-around, most recently besting her school record 39.500 with a 39.675 against Arizona State (2/28). Nationally, Dodd has put Cal on the gymnastics map, hitting the charts at No. 29 on the bars with a regional qualifying score (RQS) of 9.900 and No. 29 in the all-around with a RQS of 39.355. In the Pac-10, arguably one of the strongest conferences in the country, Dodd checks in at No. 11 in the conference on both the bars and in the all-around.
FRESHMAN FEELING: Monique Chang, a seasoned international competitor before coming to Berkeley, showed off her talents in her first year of collegiate competition, posting a university record score on the vault (9.950). The Fairfax, VA native competed in every meet while averaging a 9.873 on vault - good for best on the team and No. 21 in the nation.
AT THE PAC-10 CHAMPIONSHIPS: The Bears finished in seventh place at the Pac-10 Championships March 29 in Los Angeles, but took solace in recording several exceptional individual performances. Sophomore My-Lan Dodd highlighted the evening for Cal, capturing seventh place in the all-around competition.
For the Bears, the 195.925 team score was the seventh highest in school history, but it was not enough to challenge the excellence that the Pac-10 has to offer. Sophomore My-Lan Dodd continued to post impressive scores to lead the Golden Bears, scoring a 39.500 in all-around competition to place 7th overall. Her all-around finish tied her current third-best score in California history, set earlier this year in upset of Washington (2/21). Dodd finished tied for 7th on the bars (9.900), 9th on floor with a career-best 9.925, 11th on beam and tied with teammate Lauren Shipp for 22nd place on the vault. Shipp also added a personal best score on beam (9.875) in a tie for 11th place.
The floor exercise turned out to be the Bears' mainstay in the competition. Besides recording the third-best team mark in school history (49.275), several Cal individuals produced career performances. In addition to Dodd's ninth-place finish, freshman Britani Pittullo claimed a share of 13th place with a career-tying mark of 9.900. Senior Janet McKnight (9.850) and sophomore Miho Maeda (9.800) both tallied personal bests.
Cal suffered its lowest score of the evening on the beam with a 48.775, last place among all teams. Maeda did, however, claim a ninth place tie with an impressive 9.900. Pittullo placed 25th with a 9.800.
Freshman Monique Chang was a Top 15 finisher in both the bars and vault, the only two events in which she competed. While she did not record any personal bests, Chang finished tied for 8th on the vault (9.875) and 13th on bars (9.875).
SCOUTING THE WEEKEND OPPONENTS
A LOOK AT STANFORD: Stanford is fresh off a second-place showing at the Pac-10 Championships with a score of 197.700. The Bay Area rival got strong performances from Lise Leveille and Natalie Foley, who placed third and fourth, respectively, in the all-around competition. Leveille (14) and Foley (13) also both rank in the Top 15 nationally in the all-around. The Cardinal finished the year with a No. 6 national ranking and an 11-2-1 overall record. Stanford holds a 23-15 all-time edge over the Bears.
A LOOK AT UTAH: The Utes finished the regular season with a 7-5 record. Four of those losses were to Top 10 schools (UCLA, Arizona State, Florida and Michigan). Utah was better on the road (4-2) than at home (3-3) for the first time in school history. The Utes' victory leader is Melissa Vitui (20), followed by Annabeth Eberle (18), who hold the two best all-around scores of the year (Eberle [39.750] and Vituj [39.675 twice]).
A LOOK AT BRIGHAM YOUNG: BYU enters regionals ranked 20th in the nation and are the fourth-seeded team in the North Central Regional. The Cougars' best event, vault, places them at No. 16 with an RQS of 49.135. The team checks in at No. 23 on bars and floor and No. 25 on the balance beam.
A LOOK AT DENVER: The 21st-ranked University of Denver gymnastics team is making its fifth-consecutive appearance in a NCAA Regional meet. Denver's best regional finish came in 2001, when the Pioneers became the first small private school in NCAA history to qualify for Nationals by finishing second in the North Central Region Championships in Salt Lake City. Denver places three individuals in the nation's Top 20 with Emily Bankhead at No. 13 on floor (9.940 RQS), Michelle Kasuga at No. 15 on bars (9.920 RQS) and Ashley Shible at No. 20 on vault (9.905 RQS).
A LOOK AT MINNESOTA: The Golden Gophers are the 23rd-ranked team in the country entering this weekend's regional competition. A trio of All-Big Ten members - junior Mary Skokut, freshman Laura Johnson and sophomore Carolyn Yernberg - lead the Minnesota squad. Yernberg is the only one to garner national attention, placing No. 19 on floor with an RQS of 9.925.