UCLA Gymnastics Signs Tasha Schwikert, Lindsey Vanden Eykel
Nov. 12, 2003
The defending NCAA champion UCLA Women's Gymnastics team has signed 2000 Olympian and 2003 World Championship gold medalist Tasha Schwikert (Las Vegas, NV/Centennial HS) and former junior national champion Lindsey Vanden Eykel (Plano, TX/Spring Creek Academy) to national letters of intent. The duo will join the Bruin squad for the 2005 season.
Schwikert, who trains under Cassie Rice at Gymcats in Las Vegas, is a two-time U.S. all-around champion (2001, 2002), as well as the 2003 all-around runner-up, the 2002 bars and floor champion and the 2001 beam champion. This past summer, she captained the U.S. squad to its first-ever World Championship gold medal, and at the 2001 World Championships, she placed fifth in the all-around and on beam and helped the team capture the bronze medal. She was a member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic team, along with current Bruins Jamie Dantzscher and Kristen Maloney, and has won several international events, including the 2002 Pacific Alliance Championships, the 2002 Visa American Cup and the 2001 Pan American Championships. She has been a member of the U.S. National team for seven years.
'The first time I saw Tasha Schwikert at the Olympic Games and then consecutive years after that, it was so apparent that she was born to be a Bruin, and I was very excited when I heard she felt the same way,' said UCLA head coach Valorie Kondos Field. 'Not only will she bring excitement and explosive gymnastics to the team, but she has already developed tremendous leadership qualities that are vital to any team's success. I anticipate Tasha to be one of the greatest Bruins of all time.'
Vanden Eykel, who trains at WOGA under coach Yevgeny Marchenko, had great success at the junior level. In her first season as a junior international elite, she won the national championship on the uneven bars and placed fifth in the all-around. She repeated as bars champion in 2000 and again placed fifth in the all-around. Vanden Eykel was a three-time medalist at her first international competition, the 1999 Canberra Cup, and earned first-place showings on bars at the 2000 Monteforte Cup and in the all-around and beam at the 2000 Como Cup. In 2002, she placed third on beam and fifth on bars at the U.S. Classic and second on bars and seventh in the all-around at the American Classic. This year, she placed in the Top 10 in the all-around and second on bars at the American Classic.
'From the first phone call I had with Lindsey, I felt she was a perfect fit for program,' said Kondos Field. 'Her enthusiasm for life and not just gymnastics fits in beautifully with what our philosophies at UCLA are all about. Her gymnastics is elegant and exotic, and, like Tasha, she also has tremendous leadership qualities. I'm looking forward to Lindsey playing a big role on our team as far as team leadership and character are concerned.'
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