The Golden Bears Travel to the Desert to Face No. 14 Arizona

Jan. 24, 2006

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The California women's gymnastics team travels to Arizona this week to face the Wildcats on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the McKale Center. Cal is coming off a disappointing loss to Oregon State (193.950-190.750) in their home opener last Friday.


No. 14 Arizona: The Pac-10 leader on the floor and bars, Arizona is loaded again this season. Led bysophomore all-arounder Karin Wurm (ninth in the Pac-10), the Wildcats introduce eight freshmen this season. UA's strength is in the bars (ranked third in the country). In their last meet against Arizona State, the Wildcats notched a 48.825 in the event. The meet prior to the one in Tempe, Ariz. posted its best team score (49.300) since 2004 on the bars. The Wildcats also rank seventh nationally on the floor, led by Wurm and junior Aubery Taylor.

Despite having four of the top five all-around competitors, the California women's gymnastics team couldn't overcome early-meet scoring woes in falling to No. 22 Arizona at Haas Pavilion, 194.900-189.850. The Bears (5-2 overall, 0-2 Pac-10) posted their best team event score of the evening on floor (48.375), paced by seniors Miho Maeda (9.775) and My-Lan Dodd (9.750). Earlier in the meet, Dodd posted a 9.775 on bars to win the event. However, Cal began the evening with a 48.600-47.450 deficit to the Wildcats after the first rotation and never recovered. Maeda, Cal's top all-arounder in 2005 continued the trend against Arizona. She posted a 38.575 all-around score to finish second to the Wildcats' Monica Bisordi (39.175). Her 9.775 on floor tied her season high. Dodd finished third (38.150) followed by freshman Siobhan Luce (37.625), competing in her first all around. Freshman Nicki Wells set a new personal-best all-around score of 37.175 to finish fifth.

In the first three meets the Golden Bears have progressively improved their beam score. At the Aloha Gymfest they recorded a 47.175. In the win at Sacramento State, Cal posted a 48.000. Against Oregon State Cal notched a 48.075. The score improved was thanks in part to junior Justine Cephus's career-high 9.750, senior Britani Pittullo's season-high 9.600 and freshman Lydia Williams' career-high 9.775.

In the West Region, Cal is seventh overall (team average, 190.575). Competing in the west region against some of the best competiion, the Golden Bears have several individuals placed high in the rankings. Freshman Jessica Kelley is 10th in the all-around, senior Britani Pittullo falls 11 slots down in 21st place. Justine Cephus' beam routine against Oregon State helped her rank 18th on the beam. Junior Nicki Wells stands in 16th on the bars, and freshman Joanna Bennett is three spots down in 19th.

Freshman Jessica Kelley justified her performance at Sacramento State with a repeat against Oregon State. The Los Altos native matched her career-high 38.450 earned a week prior in addition to setting her career-high on the floor (9.725). In such a highly-competitive conference, Kelley ranks No. 14 in the Pac-10 for the all-around and is tied for 10th in the west region.

On the bars against Oregon State, freshman Joanna Bennett recorded her third 9.675. The 5-7 gymnast also scored a 9.675 at the Aloha Gymfest and at Sacramento State. Bennett ranks 22nd in the Pac-10 on the bars.

In her third attempt this season on the beam, junior Justine Cephus scored her career-high (9.750). Cephus is 16th in the Pac-10 in the event and 18th in the west region.

Junior Isabel Garcia's spicy floor routine to Brittany Spear's 'Toxic' landed her a season-best score against Oregon State. The Fair Oaks native posted a 9.650 on Friday night against the Beavers. This was Garcia's best performance since last season against North Carolina State when she recorded a 9.700.

As Cal's team beam score rises, so do the individual scores. Senior Britani Pittullo is a prime example. Pittllo posted a season-best 9.600 against Oregon State; the same evening Cal recorded its team best beam score (48.075).

Junior Nicki Wells tallied a season-high 9.725 on the bars against Oregon State. The New Zealand native's score was one-fourth shy of a career-best (9.750) set last season at Utah State.

In another record-setting performance by a Golden Bear against Oregon State, freshman Lydia Williams notched a 9.775 on the beam. This was the highest score of a Cal freshman on the beam since senior Britani Pittullo posted a 9.850 in 2003.

In her fourth year at California, head Coach Cari DuBois has already reshaped the women's gymnastics program from the day she arrived on campus. DuBois has posted a 27-23 record at Cal; she was named the 2003 Pac-10 co-Coach of the year and the 2003 West Regional Coach of the Year. In her short tenure, DuBois has guided the Bears to their first back-to-back dual-meet winning seasons since 1991-92 and led the 2003 Cal team to its highest NCAA Regional finish (fourth) since 1992. A year later, Cal finished fifth at the NCAA Regionals, the program's best back-to-back postseason showings since 1991-92. Prior to coming to Berkeley, DuBois worked as an assistant for nine years (six at West Virginia and three at Cal under Alfie Mitchell). DuBois also has spent time instructing and choreographing routines at several gymnastics camps and clubs nationwide. DuBois graduated from Ball State in 1992 with a degree in exercise science and wellness and holds a mater's degrees in athletic coaching from West Virginia.Scott Ryan, hired in August 2005, assists DuBois. Ryan served as the director and head coach at Aztec Gymnastics in San Diego, Calif., prior to his hiring at Cal. While at Aztec Gymnastics, Ryan led his teams to 33 state and regional championships in the state of California and national championships in both the United States and Mexico. Also, 18 of his gymnasts earned college gymnastics scholarships.

California returns to the Bay Area to host rival Stanford on Friday, Feb. 3, in Haas Pavilion. The match is slated for a 7:30 p.m. start.

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