UCLA Gymnastics Team Seeks Three-Peat At NCAA Championships
April 14, 2005
NCAA Championships - The second-seeded and second-ranked UCLA gymnastics team (20-3) will attempt the first three-peat in nearly 20 years when it competes at the NCAA Gymnastics Championships April 21-23 in Auburn, AL. UCLA begins competition on Thursday, April 15 at 7:00 pm CT in the evening team preliminary session. The Bruins will battle Alabama, Florida, BYU, Iowa State and Georgia for three spots in the NCAA Super Six Team Finals. LSU, Utah, Michigan, Nebraska, Penn State and Oklahoma will meet in the afternoon session at 1:00 pm CT.
Competition Format -- The three-day competition begins on Thursday, Apr. 21 with two sessions (1:00 pm and 7:00 pm CT) of preliminary team competition. The Top 3 teams from each Thursday session will advance to the team finals (The 'Super Six'), which will begin at 7:00 pm on Friday, Apr. 22. The individual event finals competition will be held Saturday, Apr. 23 at 7:00 pm. The all-around champion and individual event finalists will be determined during the preliminary competition. Individuals qualify for event finals by placing in the top four (including ties) of that particular event during their own preliminary session.
The Championship Field - Competing for the NCAA team championship will be regional winners UCLA, LSU, Utah, Alabama, Michigan and Florida, as well as regional runners-up Penn State, Oklahoma, BYU, Iowa State, Nebraska and Georgia.
Rotation Order - UCLA will begin the meet on the uneven bars, the move to beam, a bye and floor exercise before ending vault. The Bruins will have a bye in the sixth and final rotation. Rotation order for the championship meet was determined by blind draw by the NCAA committee.
Meet Coverage - Live scoring will be provided on the Auburn website at the following address: http://www.auburntigers.com/2005NCAAGym/livestats.shtml. The meet will be televised by CBS on Sunday, May 1 from 1-3 pm ET. Bonnie Bernstein and Olympic gold medalist Amanda Borden will call the action, with Tracy Wolfson serving as sideline reporter.
UCLA At The NCAA Championships -- The Bruins have won four of the last five NCAA Championships and have won five titles overall (1997, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004). UCLA won its fifth title last season with an NCAA Championship record score of 198.125 in front of a home crowd at Pauley Pavilion. UCLA clinched the meet after the fifth rotation, sitting out the sixth and final rotation on a bye with the title in hand after a 49.6 on beam. The Bruins were the only team to score 49.5 or higher on an event, and they did it three times - on vault, beam and floor. At Lincoln, Neb. in 2003, the Bruins utilized a stellar beam rotation (49.525) to take a .475 lead heading into their final event and solidified the championship with a 49.5 on floor to close the meet. In 2001, UCLA needed a near-perfect beam set to stave off host Georgia in the two teams' final rotation and responded in style with a 49.575 (9.915 average) to capture the title with a team total of 197.575, .175 ahead of the Gym Dogs. The Bruins won in 2000 on the strength of a 48-for-48 performance over the two days of the championships. UCLA won its first-ever NCAA Championship in 1997, breaking the Utah-Georgia-Alabama triumvirate which had won all the other previous titles.
This is UCLA's 14th consecutive and 22nd overall appearance in the 24 NCAA Championships. UCLA and Georgia are the only two teams to qualify for every Super Six since its inception in 1993.
Richardson Will Try To Reclaim NCAA Beam Title -- UCLA junior Kate Richardson will attempt to reclaim the NCAA balance beam title she won in 2003 as a freshman. Richardson also won a share of the uneven bars title but will be unable to compete on bars due to a thumb injury. Other former NCAA champions competing at the national championships are three-time champion Ashley Miles from Alabama (2003, 2004 vault; 2004 floor), three-time champion Elise Ray from Michigan (2001 all-around, 2002 beam, 2004 bars) and 2004 floor exercise co-champion Courtney Bumpers from North Carolina. 2003 all-around and floor champion Richelle Simpson of Nebraska is questionable for the meet after suffering a knee injury on her final floor exercise pass at the Regional meet.
Individual NCAA History -- Eleven Bruins have won 22 NCAA titles to tie for second amongst all teams. UCLA's NCAA champions are: Kim Hamilton (1987-88-89 floor, 1989 vault), Jill Andrews (1988 vault, 1989 beam), Stella Umeh (1995 and 1998 floor), Heidi Moneymaker (1998 bars, 1999 vault), Kiralee Hayashi (1999 beam), Mohini Bhardwaj (2000 bars, 2001 floor), Lena Degteva (2000 beam), Onnie Willis (2001 all-around); Yvonne Tousek (2001 bars), Jamie Dantzscher (2002 all-around, vault and floor; 2003 bars) and Kate Richardson (2003 bars and beam). Two other Bruins won AIAW national titles - Sharon Shapiro (1980-81 all-around and vault, 1980 bars, 1980 beam, 1980 floor) and Diane Dovas (1981 bars). Shapiro remains the only gymnast ever to sweep the all-around and all four events in one year at a national championships. Hamilton is the only woman to win three consecutive floor titles. UCLA has won at least two individual titles in six of the last seven years and three titles in three of last four years.
The 2004 Championship -- Competing in front of a home crowd at Pauley Pavilion, UCLA won its fifth NCAA title with a record-breaking performance. The Bruins headed into the Championships on a bit of a mini-slump, having lost the Pac-10 Championships and having to count a fall in the final rotation at Regionals. Once at the NCAA Championships, however, the Bruins cast aside any doubt. UCLA qualified to the Super Six after a first-place showing in the team prelims and then put together a near-perfect display of gymnastics in the Super Six, hitting 24-for-24 routines, with 15 scores of 9.9 or higher to set an NCAA Super Six record of 198.125. UCLA scored 49.5 or higher on three of the four events, including a 49.6 on beam in its final rotation to sew up the victory with one rotation still to be completed. Lori Winn kicked things off with a 9.875, setting her teammates up for big scores. Christie Tedmon followed with a 9.85, Jeanette Antolin and Kate Richardson stepped up for scores of 9.95, Yvonne Tousek scored a 9.9, and Kristen Maloney slammed the door shut with a 9.925.
The 2003 Championship -- With perhaps the greatest collection of gymnasts ever assembled on one collegiate team, UCLA claimed its third title in four years in Lincoln, Neb. The Bruins pulled away from a tight competition with a sparkling beam rotation. After struggling on beam in the preliminaries, Bruin head coach Valorie Kondos Field employed a brilliant strategy, putting in the extremely consistent Onnie Willis as the leadoff competitor. In the first leadoff beam performance of her career, Willis was not only steady but spectacular, scoring a 9.925 to set the table perfectly for her teammates, who responded by totaling a 49.525 to take a .475 lead over second-place Georgia after the fourth rotation. Alabama closed to within three-tenths of a point during rotation five, and the Bruins moved to floor with the chance to close it out. Jeanette Antolin led off with a 9.85. Seniors Kristin Parker and Malia Jones finished their careers with standout performances, scoring 9.875 and 9.9, respectively. A fall by Kate Richardson put pressure on the Bruins, but there was little doubt that the final two competitors would not respond like champions, and they did just that. Willis, the eventual Honda Award winner, scored a 9.9, and Jamie Dantzscher clinched the win with a 9.975. Individually, Richardson claimed the beam title and tied with Dantzscher for the bars title.
The 2001 Championship -- The Bruins successfully defended their NCAA title with a gritty performance on balance beam in the final rotation. Leading second-place and host-team Georgia by just one-tenth of a point heading into their final rotation, the Bruins needed a near-perfect beam set to hold off the Gym Dogs, which ended on vault, one of their best events. Georgia put the heat on by posting a vault total of 49.5, meaning the Bruins needed a 49.425 or better to hold the lead. Doni Thompson started things off with a career-high 9.9 to set the table for an amazing 49.575 performance and a repeat championship. Individually, all eight competing Bruins earned All-America honors, with Onnie Willis (all-around), Yvonne Tousek (bars) and Mohini Bhardwaj (floor) capturing NCAA titles on their respective events. Valorie Kondos Field was honored as the Head Coach of the Year for the fourth time, and Bhardwaj earned the Honda Award as the nation's top gymnast.
The 2000 Championship -- UCLA hit 48-for-48 routines throughout the two-day competition and won its second NCAA title with a final score of 197.3. In the team finals, the Bruins led throughout the competition and never let any competitor within four-tenths of a point after two events. Four Bruins placed in the Top 10 in the all-around, with Mohini Bhardwaj placing second, Heidi Moneymaker fourth, Lena Degteva fifth and Kristin Parker 10th. UCLA shined in the individual event finals as well, with Degteva first winning the beam, just ahead of Bhardwaj, and then Bhardwaj winning the bars, with Degteva third. The Bruins also placed three athletes in the Top 5 on vault. Bhardwaj, Moneymaker, Degteva, Parker and Onnie Willis combined to earn a school-record 18 All-America honors. The coaching staff was honored as well, with Valorie Kondos Field earning Co-Head Coach of the Year honors, her third in five years, and Randy Lane earning Assistant Coach of the Year acclaim.
The 1997 Championship -- UCLA entered the 1997 season as the pre-season No. 1, saw Georgia assume the role of favorites during the regular season, then proved they were worthy of the No. 1 ranking by winning the school's first-ever NCAA Gymnastics title. Georgia opened the door early for UCLA, counting two falls on beam while the Bruins were on a first-rotation bye. In contrast, the Bruins scored a 49.2 on beam to stay in contention. Going into the final rotation, UCLA and Michigan trailed Arizona State, which ended its meet with a final score of 196.6. The Bruins and Wolverines needed a 49.25 in the final rotation to overtake the Sun Devils. While Michigan could only score 48.875 on floor, UCLA recorded a school-record 49.525 to win the crown with a final score of 197.15.
NCAA Championship Notes --
Championships To Be Held On Podium -- The 2004 NCAA Gymnastics Championships will be held on a podium for the second consecutive year. The gymnasts will be competing on a three-foot high elevated surface similar to what is used at the Olympic Games, World Championships and U.S. Championships.
UCLA vs. 2005 Field -- The Bruins have defeated Florida, Penn State and Nebraska (twice) this season and have losses to Utah, Michigan and Georgia.
Bruins Win West Regional, Earn NCAA Berth -- Needing to place in the Top 2 at Regionals to qualify for the NCAA Championships, UCLA won the NCAA West Regional at the University of Washington with a score of 197.025. Penn State was second with 195.375. Tasha Schwikert won the all-around (39.725) and tied for first on vault (9.95), bars (9.9) and floor (9.95). Kristen Maloney won the beam outright (9.975) and tied with Schwikert on vault and floor. Schwikert, Maloney and Jordan Schwikert went 1-2-3 in the all-around.
Maloney Honored As SI On Campus National Gymnast of the Year, Pac-10 and West Region Gymnast Of The Year - Senior Kristen Maloney was honored by Sports Illustrated On Campus as the national gymnast of the year and by the West Region and Pac-10 Conference as the Gymnast of the Year for 2005. The senior from Pen Argyl, Pa. has had an exceptional year, ranking No. 1 in the nation in the all-around since Jan. 24. Maloney posted a national season-high all-around total of 39.825 on Mar. 6 and made history at that meet by becoming the first Bruin gymnast ever to score a perfect 10 on every event in her career. Her 10.0 on uneven bars completed her set of 10.0s. She had previously scored perfect marks on vault in 2004 and balance beam and floor exercise in 2001. Only three other gymnasts in NCAA history have ever scored 10s on all four events - Georgia's Karin Lichey and Heather Stepp and Utah's Missy Marlowe.
Maloney has scored 9.9 or higher on 33 of 50 routines competed and 9.8 or higher on 47 of 50 routines. She has even upgraded her already difficult floor exercise routine, throwing a triple twist as her last tumbling pass since Mar. 6. Maloney's floor passes are double layout, whip to immediate double pike and triple-twist. The first and last passes are E elements, and the middle pass is a B+D, which holds .3 bonus.
Maloney continues to be an inspiration since her return to gymnastics in 2004 after a two-year battle with leg injuries. As a freshman, she helped the Bruins win the 2001 NCAA Championship, then she sat out the 2002 and 2003 seasons to heal her injured leg. She returned with a vengeance in 2004 and again helped the Bruins win the NCAA title, scoring a meet-high 39.725 in the all-around at the team finals.
Schwikert Named Pac-10 Freshman Of The Year - Freshman Tasha Schwikert was selected the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year in a season during which she tied for the conference all-around championship and won the uneven bars title with a perfect 10. Schwikert is No. 2 behind only Kristen Maloney in the national all-around rankings and No. 1 on the uneven bars and floor exercise. She has scored a national-best four perfect 10s this year - two each on bars and floor.
Schwikert has not only provided UCLA with spectacular routines, but she has also been very consistent, averaging over 9.84 on every event. She has scored 9.9 or higher on 30 of 52 routines (58%) and 9.8 or higher on 45 of 52 routines (87%). She ranks second on the team with 24 individual victories and is first with 50 Top 3 placements. She has competed in the all-around in 13 of UCLA's 14 meets this year.
Kondos Field Selected West Region Coach Of The Year - UCLA head coach Valorie Kondos Field was honored by her peers as the West Region Coach of the Year. Kondos Field led a young squad to dominant victories at the Pac-10 and West Regional Championships despite being in a supposedly rebuilding mode due to the graduation of two former NCAA champions and a National Gymnast of the Year. Kondos Field has UCLA peaking in the post-season once again, as the Bruins have hit 24-for-24 in their last two meets.
UCLA Wins 12th Pac-10 Title - UCLA reclaimed the Pac-10 Conference title, winning easily in Berkeley on Mar. 26 with a score of 197.1. Kristen Maloney and Tasha Schwikert dominated the meet, tying for the all-around title with scores of 39.7. Maloney also won the vault, beam (tied with ASU's Ashley Kelly) and floor, while Schwikert won the bars with a perfect 10. UCLA hit 24-for-24 routines en route to the victory.
Bruins Earn 13 All-Pac-10 Honors - UCLA gymnasts earned 13 of the maximum 18 All-Pac-10 Conference honors to set a new school record. Kristen Maloney became just the second Pac-10 gymnast ever to receive the five honors (all-around, vault, bars, beam, floor). Tasha Schwikert earned four (all-around, vault, bars, floor), and Jordan Schwikert earned all-around acclaim. Junior Kate Richardson was selected to the vault, beam and floor teams to increase her career total to a school-record 10.
Four Bruins Named To Pac-10 All-Academic Team - Bruin gymnasts excelled in the classroom as well as on the competition floor, with four student-athletes being named to the Pac-10 All-Academic Team. Senior Christie Tedmon and junior Kate Richardson received first-team acclaim, while senior Kristen Maloney and sophomore Ashley Peckett were named to the honorable mention team. Tedmon, a three-time NACGC Scholastic All-American, has amassed a 3.72 GPA in Psychology. Richardson, a third-team Academic All-American as a sophomore, holds a 3.78 GPA in Physiological Science. Both were second-team picks a year ago, and Tedmon was also an honorable mention selection in 2003. Maloney earns her second honorable mention nod, while Peckett receives her first in her first year of eligibility. To be eligible for selection to the academic team, a student-athlete must have a minimum 3.0 overall grade point average and be either a starter or significant contributor.
UCLA In The Rankings: Maloney, Schwikert 1-2 In All-Around - The Bruins are ranked No. 2 in the national rankings, which are based on regional qualifying score (RQS). UCLA holds an RQS of 197.09. RQS is totaled by taking the team's top six scores, three of which must be away, throwing out the high score and averaging the remaining five.UCLA is ranked in the Top 4 on all events - No. 1 on vault (49.380 RQS) and bars (49.295), No. 3 on beam (49.285) and No. 5 on floor (49.345). Senior Kristen Maloney and freshman Tasha Schwikert have been 1-2 in the all-around two months. Maloney, who has been ranked No. 1 since Jan. 24, holds an RQS of 39.640, with a national season-best 39.825 earned last month. Schwikert, who also scored a 39.825 last month, is right behind with a 39.615. Freshman Jordan Schwikert joins them in the Top 25 at No. 21 (39.315). Maloney is ranked in the Top 5 on all four events - No. 3 on vault (9.930), beam (9.935) and floor (9.935) and No. 5 on bars (9.905). Tasha is ranked No. 1 in the nation on bars (9.94) and tied for No. 1 on floor (9.95). She is also ranked No. 7 on vault (9.92) and No. 9 on beam (9.9). Younger sister Jordan is now ranked No. 22 on bars (9.865), and Kate Richardson ranks No. 6 on beam (9.920), No. 11 on floor (9.91) and No. 13 on vault (9.9).
Bruins Score National Season-Best 197.85 - UCLA scored a national season-high 197.85 in its final home meet of the season on Mar. 6 to defeat Florida, which recorded a season-high away score of 196.65. The Bruins led by just two-tenths at the halfway mark but pulled away with huge scores on balance beam and floor exercise (49.575 on each event). Senior Kristen Maloney and freshman Tasha Schwikert tied for first in the all-around with career-highs of 39.825. Each gymnast scored a perfect 10 - Maloney with her first ever on bars and Schwikert with her second on floor.
Richardson Back On Three Events - Junior All-American and two-time Olympian Kate Richardson has returned to competition after sitting out the Feb. 27 meet against Georgia and Arizona. Richardson suffered a functional rupture of the ulnar collateral ligament of the thumb during warmups at Stanford on Feb. 18. Despite the injury, she competed in that meet and won all three events on which she performed - vault, beam and floor. After resting for one week, she returned on two events on Mar. 6 against Florida and tied for first on balance beam with a season-best 9.975 and was third on floor with a season-high tying 9.925. Richardson returned to the vault lineup on Mar. 19 and scored a 9.85. She also won beam at that meet with a 9.925 and scored a 9.775 on floor. The injury has forced alterations to her beam routine. She has taken out her signature handstand mount to two layouts and is now doing two front aerials for her flight series. Her floor exercise routine and vault remains the same. Richardson's Olympic experience has helped her adjust to the new beam routine, as she competed several of these new elements in her 2004 Olympic routine. Richardson qualified for the all-around and floor finals in Athens, placing 18th in the all-around and seventh on floor.
Sister Act - Freshmen Tasha and Jordan Schwikert are the first pair of sisters to compete concurrently for UCLA's gymnastics team. Tasha, 20, deferred enrollment in college to train towards an Olympic berth. Jordan, 18, graduated in the spring from Centennial HS in Las Vegas, NV. The two sisters trained together at Gym Cats and were both U.S. National Team members. Tasha was a member of the 2000 Olympic squad and captain of the 2003 World Championship gold medal-winning team. She won six U.S. National titles in her career and was an alternate for the 2004 Olympic Games. Jordan was a rising star who made the National Team from 2001-02, but a back injury kept her out in 2003, and she returned in 2004 as a Level 10 champion. Both Schwikerts are ranked in the Top 25 nationally in the all-around, with Tasha second and Jordan 21st.
By The Numbers - Tasha Schwikert has hit 40 consecutive routines, with her lowest mark being a 9.75. Twenty-five of those routines have scored 9.9 or higher, including her last nine in a row ... Kristen Maloney has competed 30 straight meets and 106 routines without suffering a fall, a streak that dates back to 2001 ... Ashley Peckett has hit 27 routines without a fall, Kate Richardson has hit 19 straight, and Jordan Schwikert has hit 17 straight ... Tasha Schwikert and Maloney have split amongst themselves every event and all-around title in UCLA's last two meets.
Perfect Bruins - Despite the stricter scoring system this year, UCLA gymnasts have still seen their share of perfect 10s. Freshman Tasha Schwikert leads the nation with four perfect 10s this year - two each on uneven bars and floor exercise. Senior Kristen Maloney also received a 10 this year on the uneven bars, giving her perfect 10s on all four events in her storied UCLA career. Junior Kate Richardson, who has scored 10 10.0s in her career, has come close twice this year, scoring a 9.975 on bars on Jan. 17 and on beam on Mar. 6. Maloney has also had a few near-misses, scoring 9.975 three times on beam, once on vault and once on floor. She also had a 9.95 on floor Mar. 6 with one judge giving her a perfect 10. Schwikert has three 9.975s in addition to her three 10s.
UCLA Loaded With Elite Talent - Six of UCLA's 12 team members have been members of their countries' national teams, while three were on Olympic teams and four were on World Championship teams. UCLA's Olympians are Kristen Maloney (2000 U.S. team), Kate Richardson (2000 and 2004 Canadian team) and Tasha Schwikert (2000 U.S. and 2004 U.S. alternate). Ashley Peckett competed at two World Championships for Canada.Four Bruins have won a total of 16 National Championships for their respective countries - Maloney (1998 and 1999 all-around, 2000 vault and floor), Peckett (2002 beam), Richardson (2000 vault and 2001 all-around, vault, bars and beam) and Schwikert (2001 all-around and beam; 2002 all-around, bars and floor; 2004 bars).
Waller, Bhardwaj Team Up For Olympic Triumph - Bruin assistant coach Chris Waller played a significant role in the 2004 Olympic Games, coaching U.S. team captain and former Bruin Mohini Bhardwaj, who led the USA to a team silver medal. Bhardwaj also found individual success, qualifying for the floor exercise finals and placing seventh and placing eighth in all-around in preliminaries (she was unable to compete in the all-around finals, however, due to the two-per-country rule).
Comforte, Chan, Dantzscher Twins To Join Bruins In 2006 - UCLA has signed U.S. National Team member Kristina Comforte, Level 10 national all-around champion Melissa Chan and former international elites Jalynne and Janelle Dantzscher to national letters of intent. The four standouts will join the Bruin squad for the 2006 season.
Comforte, from Burr Ridge, IL (Illinois Gymnastics Institute) was the national vault runner-up in 2003 and the junior national champion in 2002. She is a two-time national team member. Chan, a former U.S. junior national vault champion from Los Gatos (Airborne Gymnastics), won the 2004 Level 10 (Senior C) national titles in the all-around, vault and beam. The San Dimas-based Dantzscher twins are the younger sisters of former Bruin superstar Jamie Dantzscher and train at SCEGA. Jalynne won the 2004 Level 10 (Senior A) national all-around and floor exercise titles. Janelle placed 11th in the all-around, third on vault and fifth on beam at the Regional Championships in 2004 and was the all-around, beam and floor regional champion in 2003.
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