UCLA's Kristen Maloney Wins NCAA Vault, Beam Titles

April 23, 2005

Auburn, AL - UCLA senior Kristen Maloney finished her storied gymnastics career in style, not only winning NCAA event titles on vault and beam but becoming the first collegiate gymnast to perform a double layout full-out on floor and the second collegiate gymnast to do a laid-out double-twisting Yurchenko on vault.

Maloney's vault victory came as a result of two stuck vaults. Her first, the laid-out double-twisting Yurchenko (the only other collegiate gymnast ever to do this vault in college was Maloney's 2001 teammate Mohini Bhardwaj) scored a 9.925. Her laid-out Yurchenko full earned a 9.95, including a 10.0 from one judge. Her two-vault average was 9.9375. Defending champion Ashley Miles of Alabama hopped on both vaults and placed fourth with a 9.85. Iowa State's Janet Anson finished second with a 9.9, and LSU's April Burkholder was third with a 9.8875. UCLA freshman Tasha Schwikert had qualified on vault but scratched due to illness.

On balance beam, Maloney was near-perfect again, scoring a 9.9375. She performed a front handspring/wolf jump/back handspring/layout combo, a pike jump/full-twisting swing-down and stuck her gainer full dismount. Kristi Esposito of Nebraska and Elise Ray of Michigan tied for second with a 9.9125. Richardson placed fourth with a 9.9, and Schwikert tied for fifth with a 9.8625 after sticking her roundoff double back dismount.

Maloney, a U.S. Olympian in 2000 and a two-time U.S. all-around champion, is the fourth Bruin to win two event titles at the NCAA Championships, joining Kate Richardson (2003 bars and beam), Jamie Dantzscher (2002 vault and floor), and Kim Hamilton (1989 vault and floor). UCLA has had at least two individual NCAA titles in seven of the last eight years.

'This is my final meet competing in college,' Maloney said. 'I've competed internationally and elite many years, and I have to say that college is as exciting or even more exciting than competing internationally. College is more team-oriented and more fun. On this particular night, I was competing as an individual, and I felt like all the pressure was off, so I could go out and have fun and showcase what I can do. That's the reason I competed the double-twisting Yurchenko. It's a lot of fun for me to just go hard and have fun.'

Maloney had more fun on floor exercise, as she made more history by becoming the first collegiate gymnast ever to do a double layout full-out on floor. Back in 1998, she became the first U.S. gymnast to compete this skill. Here at the 2005 NCAA Championships, she landed just a bit short on that opening pass and then stepped out of bounds on her second pass, a whip to immediate double pike. Her triple full to end her routine gave her the most difficulty in the competition. Although she only scored a 9.7625 to place 11th, she made her statement by performing the skill that had never been done before in NCAA competition.

'That is the funnest skill I have ever learned, and I just wanted to do it,' Maloney said. 'I don't care that I didn't win floor. I just wanted to go hard and have no regrets.'

Richardson also competed on floor exercise and placed 12th with a 9.3375. Schwikert also qualified for floor exercise but withdrew.

Schwikert did, however, compete on the uneven bars and was the third competitor. She scored a 9.8875 after performing a Shaposhnikova to a shootover handstand, toe-hecht, Tkatchev and a full-twisting double back dismount. Six competitors later she still held the lead until Georgia's Kelsey Ericksen scored a 9.925, but the lead was short-lived, as the final competitor, Terin Humphrey of Alabama, closed the competition with a 9.9375. Schwikert finished tied for third place with Ashley Postell and Rachel Tidd of Utah.

With Maloney's two individual titles Saturday night and Schwikert's all-around title on Thursday night, UCLA has now won 25 NCAA individual titles. Maloney has won three team titles and two individual crowns in her five-year career.

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