California Hits Road to Face No. 2 UCLA

Jan. 19, 2005


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This Week: Sun., Jan. 23, at No. 2 UCLA, vs. Sac St., CSU Fullerton
Los Angeles, CA (Pauley Pavilion), 2:00 p.m.

WHAT'S ON TAP: The California women's gymnastics program, with perhaps the toughest schedule in the nation, vaults into stiff competition Sunday when it competes against two-time defending national team champion UCLA in Los Angeles. The Bruins are currently one of six teams ranked in the Top-20 the Bears are scheduled to face this season. Sacramento State and Cal State Fullerton fill out the quad meet, which kicks off at 2:00 p.m. at the Bruins' Pauley Pavilion.

FRESH FACES: In the Bears' season opening meet against UC Davis and Brown Jan. 14, Cal head coach Cari DuBois employed at least two freshmen in every event. Highlighting the newcomers in their first collegiate meet was Alli Szutu (Castro Valley, Calif.), who captured second in the all-around (38.700), placing third or higher in each event and winning the vault (9.650). Her highest score was a 9.775 on bars ... Keiko Nakamura (Chula Vista, Calif.) competed in just one event, but posted a solid 9.625 on beam in her college debut ... Nicki Wells (Auckland, New Zealand), the 2003 New Zealand All-Around champion, competed in three events Friday, scoring a 9.475 on bars and 9.350s on vault and floor.

THE MORE THINGS CHANGE ... : Senior Mŷ-Lan Dodd, who owns four of the Top-5 all-around Cal program marks, got back into the swing of things by capturing Friday's all-around title with a 38.775. The Seattle native, who holds the program's top mark in every event but bars, won the beam with a 9.800.

SCOUTING THIS WEEK'S OPPONENTS: One of the most successful collegiate gymnastics programs in recent years, UCLA (2-1) is once again loaded in 2005. The Bruins defeated No. 19 Nebraska Jan. 17 with a current national-best 49.725 on bars, highlighted by 2000 U.S. Olympian Tasha Schwikert's perfect 10.0 and 2000 and 2004 Canadian National Team member Kate Richardson's 9.975. Freshman Schwikert (39.975), senior Kristen Maloney (39.525) and junior Richardson (39.475) have posted the fourth, sixth and seventh-highest all-around scores, respectively, in Division I this season. UCLA owns the highest team vault (49.500), bars (49.725) and beam (49.375) scores as well. Cal is 1-20 all-time versus UCLA, coached by Valorie Kondos Field (UCLA '87, 15th year, 283-60-1) ... SACRAMENTO STATE moved to 2-3 with a Jan. 16 defeat of Brown. Three different Hornets captured an event victory - senior b>Jessica Hoffman on vault (9.800) and bars (9.650), Kimiye Narasaki on beam (9.725) and Stefanie Aeder on floor (9.750). Cal is 14-6 against Sac St., including a 193.600-188.900 victory in Seattle last season. The Hornets are coached by Kim Hughes (Chico State '76, 25th year, 200-187-2) ... CAL STATE FULLERTON fell to 1-3 following a 191.575-188.675 loss to San Jose State Jan 14. Junior Brittany Hoffman (9.775) captured the vault title while sophomore Brittany Evans (9.700) captured beam for the Titans, coached by Julie Knight-Bowse (Fullerton '79, 7th year, 50-42). Cal is 6-5 against the Titans, having won the last four meetings.

BEST OF THE BEST: Aside from UCLA, Cal faces No. 1 Utah, No. 7 Arizona State, No. 10 Florida, No. 12 Oregon State and No. 18 Washington at least once in 2005. Also on the slate is Stanford (currently unranked but No. 3 in the GymInfo preseason coaches' poll) and Arizona (unranked, No. 13 preseason).

MEET IN REVIEW (1/14/05): The Bears got their season off to a successful beginning, posting a 191.850 team score to defeat UC Davis (187.375) and Brown (179.950) ... senior Miho Maeda was the only Bear to set new personal bests. Her 9.500 on vault surpassed her previous 9.450. Maeda also recorded a 38.600 all-around score to bump a 38.075.

HOME-MAT ADVANTAGE: Haas Pavilion will play host to the 2005 Pac-10 Championships, scheduled for 3 p.m. on March 26. It's the first time the structure has ever hosted the event, which should give the Bears an added boost. Due to the conference's strength - something that shouldn't change this season as four of seven teams are in the Top-20 - Cal hasn't fared well in the championships, finishing higher than seventh just once since 1994.

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