Huskies Head To The Desert To Face No. 10 Arizona

Feb. 1, 2006

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The Meet: The No. 30 Washington women's gymnastics team (3-6 overall, 1-4 Pac-10) head to the desert to face the 10th-ranked Arizona Wildcats (1-7, 1-1) at the McKale Center on Friday, Feb. 3 at 6:30 p.m. Live scoring will be available at www.arizonaathletics.com.

Series History: The Huskies are 19-27-1 all-time against the Wildcats. The Huskies defeated the Wilcats in Seattle last Jan. 28 in a quad meet and lost to them at the Pac-10 Championships, where Arizona finished second and Washington fifth. The last time the Huskies traveled down to Tucson they tied the Wildcats, each team scoring 197.025. The Huskies last won in Tucson on Feb. 18, 2000 when they beat the Wildcats 195.075-193.975.

Last Week: No. 13 Arizona State (195.175) defeated Washington (191.525) and Seattle Pacific University (190.225) in a tri-meet on Jan. 27 at Bank of America Arena. The Huskies set team season-highs on vault and floor, but for the second-consecutive week were forced to count three falls on bars. Freshman Ashley Houghting won vault with a 9.9 and Kelly McDonald won bars with a 9.8. Freshman Kristen Omori was third on vault and third on floor for the Huskies. Arizona State's April Boone led a Sun Devils' sweep of the top three all-around scores. ASU also swept the team scores in all four events.

Scouting the Wildcats: Arizona moved up four spots in the rankings to No. 10 after establishing a season-high 195.875 to defeat California last Friday at the McKale Center. Aubrey Taylor won her first career all-around title for the Wildcats and earned Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week honors. Arizona is ranked third nationally in vault average and sixth on floor. The Wilcats' 1-7 head-to-head competition record is deceiving. Their losses have came against teams all currently ranked in the Top-25: Georgia (1st), Alabama (3rd), Oklahoma (6th), Arizona State (12th), Stanford (13th), Penn State (15th) and Denver (16th).

Arizona Homecoming: Several Huskies will be returning to familiar turf this weekend. Chelsea Bakken and Kelly Gilbert are graduates of Mountain View High School in Mesa, Ariz. Jessica Brown is also from Arizona, hailing from Sunnyslope High School in Phoenix. The Huskies roster is comprised of six athletes from Washington state. The three athletes from Arizona represents the next highest total from any state. Two Californians, one Coloradian, one Oregonian and three Canadians comprise the rest of the roster.

Vaulting Towards The Top: Ashley Houghting has made quite a splash in her first year as a Husky. The Welland, Ontario native has won three individual vault titles in the first four meets and is currently ranked seventh in the nation with a 9.881 average. She has scored 9.9 in back-to-back meets and has yet to score below a 9.85.

Rough Schedule: The Huskies six losses this season have come against teams all currently ranked in the Top-25: Utah (2nd), twice UCLA (11th), Arizona State (12th), Oregon State (19th) and Arkansas (21st). The road ahead doesn't get any easier. The Huskies still have to face Arizona (10th), Stanford (13th) and Utah State (26th) and have re-matches against UCLA , Oregon State and Arkansas on their schedule.

Fabulous Freshmen: With many Husky veterans out due to injury, Levesque is counting on contributions from his five freshmen. Ashley Houghting has competed all-around three times, and is currently seventh in the nation on vault with a 9.881 average. She has already won vault three times and was the first Husky since Kelly McDonald in 2003 to win an event in her collegiate debut. Kristen Omori has also been a pleasant surprise, finishing second on floor against both Utah and UCLA and also contributing on vault and beam in the first four meets. Kelly Gilbert has been in the floor and beam lineup, while walk-ons Emily Epsten and Katie Boyko have each seen action on the vault.

Sophomores Licking Their Wounds: The Huskies have six sophomores on their roster and only two: Jenni Chang and Natalie Gillan are healthy right now. Nicole Waiss will miss the season after tearing her right ACL in fall camp. Brittney Brabec, the team's 2005 Most Promising Freshman, will red-shirt this season after undergoing Tommy John Surgery on her elbow. Julie Medeiros will sit out this season while nursing a stress fracture in her left foot. Raimey Iselin is out for at least a month to rest her ailing back. Red-shirt freshman Jessica Brown has seen limited action while recovering from shoulder surgery.

Husky Head Coach Bob Levesque: Washington head coach Bob Levesque is in his 16th season coaching the Huskies in 2006. Levesque owns a career record of 222-210-2. He came to Washington in 1991 after a career as a highly successful club coach. He has taken the Huskies to the NCAA Championships three times (1994, 1997, 1998) and guided the team to one NCAA Regional championship (1998). Levesque was honored as the Pac-10 coach of the year in both 1997 and 1998. As a club-level coach, he tutored six future Olympians. He also coached Tanya Chaplin, the current head coach at Oregon State. Levesque is a 1972 graduate of Fresno State.

Scheduling Quirk: The Huskies will face every team on their schedule at least twice this season, except for Sacramento State, Utah and Utah State. Because of the Pac-10 Championships on March 25, the Huskies will face each conference foe at least twice, but Washington will see UCLA on the mat four times and Oregon State and California at least three times. Seattle Pacific will compete twice this season at Bank of America Arena, while the Huskies have already competed against Arkansas at the season-opening Hawaiian Classic and have a date to face the LadyBacks in Fayetteville, Ark. on March 12.

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