UCLA Gymnastics Team Places Fourth at NCAA Super Six Team Finals
April 22, 2005
AUBURN, Ala. - The second-ranked and second-seeded UCLA gymnastics team placed fourth at the NCAA Super Six Team Finals at Auburn University's Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum on Friday. UCLA totaled a 197.15, while Georgia earned a 197.775. Alabama was second with a 197.4. Utah placed third with a 197.275. Michigan finished fifth behind UCLA with a 196.575, followed by Nebraska with a 196.425.
UCLA began its meet on the floor exercise, a rotation draw that has seen the Bruins through three previous national championship years (2000, 2001 and 2004). Three-even leadoff competitor Ashley Peckett started the meet for UCLA much like she did at last year's NCAA Championships - with a strong, clean routine that merited a 9.8. Sophomore Courtney Walker got huge height on her opening double pike and nailed her middle pass, which she struggled on in prelims. She closed with a strong ending pass and scored a 9.825, just .05 off her career high. Jordan Schwikert followed with a 9.875, tying her career high. Kate Richardson continued the Bruins' hot streak, scoring a 9.9. Tasha Schwikert was a little short on her final tumbling pass, a double pike, but the rest of her routine was spectacular and difficult, and she scored a 9.9. Kristen Maloney performed the most difficult tumbling in the competition - a double layout, a whip to immediate double pike and a triple full - and was duly rewarded, scoring a 10.0, her first on floor this year and the fifth 10 of her career.
By the time the smoke cleared, the Bruins had scored a 49.5 to take a first-rotation lead of .15 over second-place Georgia, which nailed its regional nemesis, the balance beam, scoring a 49.35.
UCLA moved to vault in rotation two. Peckett once again led off the rotation and drilled her Yurchenko Arabian with a stuck landing to score a season-high 9.9. senior Kisha Auld ended her collegiate career with a stuck Tsukahara layout full that scored a 9.75. J. Schwikert atoned for her low score in prelims with a stuck Yurchenko full and scored a career-high tying 9.925. Richardson also improved upon her prelims score, earning a 9.825. T. Schwikert and Maloney closed with a pair of 9.9s to give UCLA a team total of 49.45 and a two-event score of 98.95, 0.15 off last year's record-setting pace.
While the Bruins relaxed on a bye in rotation three, Georgia made up ground on floor exercise, scoring a 49.525 to pull to within .075 (98.875). Utah also remained close, .3 behind with a 98.65 after scoring 49.275 on floor and 49.375 on vault.
UCLA and Georgia battled it out head-to-head in rotation four, with the Bruins on uneven bars and Georgia on vault. Peckett hit another terrific leadoff routine, hitting a 9.8. Walker once again corrected her prelim mistake by hitting her overshoot to handstand and then punctuated the routine with a stuck double layout dismount to score a career-high 9.8. Maloney followed with a 9.9, and J. Schwikert with a 9.825. Lindsey Vanden Eykel missed her Tkatchev but stuck her double front dismount, scoring a 9.325, but T. Schwikert made it incidental, hitting her routine and scoring a 9.95. UCLA's final bars total was 49.275, with a three-event total of 148.225.
Georgia, meanwhile, was drilling their vaults, earning four scores of 9.9 or higher, including two 9.95s for a team total of 49.575 and a three-event total of 148.45.
Going into balance beam in second place in their final rotation, the Bruins ran into trouble at the leadoff position, as senior Christie Tedmon fell on her flight series. However, the Bruins used their experience from Thursday night's prelims to bring their performances to another level. Vanden Eykel kept things going with a 9.725. J. Schwikert hit her backhandspring/layout and her side somersault and stuck her gainer full dismount but only scored a 9.6 as she was docked for a low start value. T. Schwikert followed with a 9.85, her only sub 9.9 of the team competitions. Richardson did not let a raucous crowd for Alabama's Ashley Miles' 10 on floor phase her, scoring a 9.825. Maloney completed her last team routine with a 9.925 for a beam total of 48.925 and team total of 197.15.
'We made some technical errors, but not emotional errors,' said UCLA head coach Valorie Kondos Field. 'They did not make errors because they were jittery, they were just technical errors.'
'Our best isn't indicated by scores and skills, but by your heart and intensity,' Kondos Field continued. 'I asked the team if they gave their heart and intensity, and they all said yes. So what did you lose? Nothing.'
Georgia clinched the team title with a 49.375 on bars, and Alabama vaulted to second place after scoring a meet-high 49.625 on vault. Miles hit another 10 to punctuate the meet for the Tide. Utah used a 49.25 on beam to move past UCLA into third place.
'We knew there would be absolutely no room for error, and that's what happened,' said Kondos Field. 'We didn't have the best beam set. They said last night, if Georgia hits beam, that's it.'
Team - 1. Georgia, 197.825; 2. Alabama, 197.4; 3. Utah, 197.275; 4. UCLA, 197.15; 5. Michigan, 196.575; 6. Nebraska, 196.425.