UCLA Gymnasts Take On Pac-10 Pair In Road-Home Weekend

Jan. 18, 2006

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Bruins Hit Road To Face Washington - The 13th-ranked UCLA gymnastics team (5-1) will travel to Seattle, Wash. to take on 22nd-ranked Washington (2-4) at Bank of America Arena on Friday, Jan. 20 at 7 pm.

Bruins vs. Beavers At Home Sunday - Just two days after the Washington trip, the Bruins will host 21st-ranked Oregon State (6-2 with a meet at Cal on Jan. 20) on Sunday, Jan. 22 at 1 pm in Pauley Pavilion.

Meet Promotions - Free meet program posters will be available to the first 400 in attendance Sunday. This week's program poster features sophomore Tasha Schwikert.

Live Coverage - Live scoring will be available for the Jan. 20 meet at www.gohuskies.com. Live streaming video is also available for Washington All-Access subscribers at a fee of $6.95 per month. Live streaming video and live scoring will be available for the Jan. 22 home meet at www.uclabruins.com. Video access is available for subscribers of UCLA All-Access. The fee for UCLA All-Access is $6.95 per month, and it allows users access to audio and video broadcasts of all available UCLA sporting events, including all five UCLA gymnastics home meets.

Tickets - Tickets to UCLA gymnastics meets are available for sale on a season ticket or single-meet basis. For the best value, UCLA offers a season ticket package that costs $30 ($6/meet) and has seats located in the reserved section. All season ticket holders will receive a special gift to be redeemed at each home meet this season. The season ticket holder gift for this week's meet is a meet program, autographed by Tasha Schwikert. Single-meet tickets are $12 (adult)/$10 (youth) for reserved and $8 (adult)/$6 (youth) for general admission. UCLA students are free with valid ID.

In The Rankings - With a season average of 193.812, UCLA is ranked 13th in this week's national rankings. The Bruins are ranked 11th on vault, 14th on bars, fourth on beam and 22nd on floor. Individually, senior Kate Richardson ranks 14th in the all-around, ninth on vault and 10th on bars. Freshman Kristina Comforte is tied for 20th on bars.

About The Bruins - Five-time NCAA champion UCLA is coached by four-time national coach of the year Valorie Kondos Field. The Bruins return three All-Americans from last year's Pac-10 and NCAA West Regional championship squads - reigning NCAA champion Tasha Schwikert, 2003 NCAA bars and beam champion Kate Richardson and 2005 balance beam All-American Jordan Schwikert. Tasha Schwikert swept through the post-season, winning the all-around at the Pac-10s, NCAA West Regionals and NCAA Championships. Richardson is a 10-time All-American and two-time Canadian Olympian. Jordan Schwikert earned All-Pac-10 honors in the all-around as a freshman last year. Also returning are junior veterans Ashley Peckett, Michelle Selesky and Courtney Walker. Peckett has been a major player in UCLA's NCAA Championship squads the last two seasons, recording solid leadoff scores for the Bruins each year. Selesky is this year's team co-captain, along with Richardson. Walker was a key contributor for the Bruins a year ago, making the bars and floor lineups at the NCAA Championships and scoring a career-best 9.8 on bars at the Super Six Team Finals.

With seven freshmen on the squad, the majority of UCLA's team are rookies, and they are a talented young group. Kristina Comforte is a current member of the U.S. National Team. Melissa Chan was a three-time Level 10 all-around champion and former junior national champion. Maranda Smith is the reigning Level 10 national floor champion. Jalynne Dantzscher won the 2004 Level 10 all-around crown, while her twin sister Janelle was the 2003 Level 10 regional all-around champion. Walk-ons Alyssa Kitasoe, a standout Level 10 performer, and Ariana Berlin, who was once training elite, will also be key contributors.

Scouting The Huskies - The Bruins and Huskies have common opponents so far this season, having both competed at the Hawaiian Classic and at home against Utah. UCLA won the meet in Hawaii, with Washington placing fourth. The Huskies also lost at home to Utah last week, scoring a 193.325. Freshman Ashley Houghting has been one of Washington's standout so far, tying for first on vault at the Hawaiian Classic with a score of 9.85 and one-upping that score a week later against Utah with a 9.875. Houghting ranks 10th nationally on vault. Senior Kelly McDonald won the bars at the Hawaiian Classic with a 9.85 and is ranked 13th nationally on that event. This will be the first of a home-home series with Washington. The Huskies will visit Pauley Pavilion on February 12.

The Series With Washington - UCLA leads the all-time regular-season series between the teams, 38-2, and won the last meeting in 2005, 196.575-192.6. Washington won the last dual meet held in Seattle, 197.225-197.1 in 2004.

Scouting The Beavers - This will be UCLA's second of at least three meetings this season with Oregon State. The two teams have already met at the Hawaiian Classic, with UCLA winning and Oregon State placing second. Chrissy Lamun, the 2003 Pac-10 floor co-champion, and freshmen Claire Pierce, who won beam at the Hawaiian Classic, and Tasha Smith, who won the all-around in a quad meet last weekend, lead Oregon State. The Beavers are coached by former UCLA All-American Tanya (Service) Chaplin.

The Series With Oregon State - UCLA leads the all-time regular-season series between the teams, 32-13, and won two regular season meetings in 2005, 194.5-192.875 on Jan. 14 in Corvallis and in a quad meet at Arkansas on Mar. 19.

Freshmen Jump Right Into Competition - In the Bruins' first two meets, freshmen have accounted for 35 of the team's 48 routines (73%). Melissa Chan and Kristina Comforte went all-around in both meets, while Jalynne Dantzscher competed in three of the four events in both meets. In the season opener at Hawaii, Chan placed third in the all-around with a 38.6, followed closely by Comforte, who scored 38.575. Comforte placed second on beam and third on vault, while Chan earned a third-place finish on beam. Two other freshmen placed in the Top 3 on floor in their first collegiate meets - Janelle Dantzscher (second place) and Maranda Smith (tied for third). Smith earned a third-place tie again against Utah, recording the Bruins' high mark of the night on floor, a 9.775. Ariana Berlin, who is competing for the first time in nearly five years after a serious car accident ended her budding elite career in 2001, has been averaging 9.738 on vault for the Bruins and has been steady as the leadoff competitor on beam.

Jordan Schwikert Set To Return This Weekend - Sophomore All-American Jordan Schwikert is scheduled to return to competition this weekend after being sidelined since November due to arthroscopic shoulder surgery. Tasha Schwikert, who had the same surgery in December, remains out but is progressing well with her rehab. Jordan is likely to compete on a few events this weekend.

Richardson Recovered From Fractured Tibia - Bionic woman Kate Richardson has fully recovered from a fractured tibia suffered in September. The senior co-captain has won the all-around in both of UCLA's meets this season. In the season opener in Hawaii, she won the all-around (38.75), vault (9.85) and floor (9.8), and against Utah, she nearly swept the competition, winning the all-around (39.275), vault (9.9), bars (9.95) and beam (9.95). Returning quickly from injury is nothing new for Richardson. Last season, she missed just two meets after suffering a functional rupture of the ulnar collateral ligament of the thumb on Feb. 18. In 2002, she won the Commonwealth Games just a few months after undergoing back surgery.

Sister Sister - Last season, Tasha and Jordan Schwikert became the first pair of sisters to compete concurrently for UCLA's gymnastics team. This season, the sisters are joined by another pair of sisters, Jalynne and Janelle Dantzscher, who are the first set of twins to compete for the Bruins. The name Dantzscher should be a familiar one to Bruin fans. The twins' older sister Jamie Dantzscher competed for UCLA from 2001-04 and won three NCAA team (2001, 2003, 2004) and four NCAA individual titles (2002 all-around, vault, floor; 2003 bars).

Standouts In Classroom - The Bruins had large success in the classroom in the fall, with 10 team members making the Director's Honor Roll (3.0 or better) for fall quarter. Freshman Janelle Dantzscher topped all gymnasts with a 4.0 GPA. Jalynne Dantzscher, Ashley Peckett, Michelle Selesky and Courtney Walker each recorded GPAs of 3.5 or higher. Also making the Director's Honor Roll were Kristina Comforte, Kate Richardson, Tasha Schwikert, Jordan Schwikert and Lindsey Vanden Eykel.

Early Graduates - Three members of the UCLA squad graduated from high school early to join the Bruins. Jalynne and Janelle Dantzscher took extra community college courses last year so that they could graduate a year early from San Dimas HS. Maranda Smith graduated a half-year early in December and just joined the Bruin team on Dec. 27. She began classes at UCLA last week for the start of winter quarter.

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