Sixth-Ranked UCLA Gymnasts Compete At No. 14 Arizona

Feb. 21, 2006

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UCLA At Arizona - Sixth-ranked UCLA (15-2) has a relatively easy travel schedule this week, competing just once on Friday, Feb. 24 at 14th-ranked Arizona. UCLA has competed in home/away meets in each of the last two weeks, including a trip to Georgia on Feb. 17, followed by a home meet on Feb. 19.

Live Coverage - Live scoring will be provided on Arizona's website, www.arizonaathletics.com. Arizona will also have a live webcast of the meet for its All-Access subscribers. The webcast will be focused on Arizona, with a few UCLA routines shown when possible.

In The Rankings - UCLA moved up from ninth to sixth in this week's national rankings, which are now based on Regional Qualifying Score (RQS). The Bruins are ranked third on vault (49.185), fourth on bars (49.025), sixth on beam (48.840) and seventh on floor (49.010). Individually, senior Kate Richardson ranks first in the nation in the all-around (39.340) and is in the Top 25 on all four events, checking in at fifth on vault (9.885), eighth on bars (9.880), 25th on beam (9.790) and tied for seventh on floor (9.860). Freshman Kristina Comforte ranks seventh in the all-around (39.115) and is in the Top 25 on vault (tied for 12th, 9.865), bars (third, 9.895) and beam (tied for 15th, 9.820). Also ranked are freshman Ariana Berlin in the all-around (tied for 15th, 39.015), junior Ashley Peckett on bars (21st, 9.825), freshman Melissa Chan on beam (tied for eighth, 9.840) and freshman Jalynne Dantzscher on floor (tied for 21st, 9.815).

About The Wildcats - Arizona is led by all-around standouts Danielle Hicks and Aubrey Taylor, who are ranked 20th and 21st, respectively, in the national rankings. The Wildcats have one of the strongest uneven bars teams in the nation, ranking seventh with an RQS of 48.920. Taylor ranks seventh on this event, with a RQS of 9.880, and Karin Wurm is tied for 23rd with a RQS of 9.815. Taylor is a former Canadian National Team member who trained with UCLA junior Ashley Peckett at Gymnastics Mississauga. Hicks is also a former Canadian National Team member who was a teammate of Kate Richardson at the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

Schwikert Named Pac-10 Gymnast Of The Week - Sophomore Jordan Schwikert earned Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week honors for the week of Feb. 13-19. Schwikert scored a pair of career-highs on vault (9.95) and beam (9.925) to win the two events at top-ranked Georgia on Friday then returned home to take the beam title in a quad meet at home on Sunday. Schwikert, who is still recovering from a November shoulder surgery, suffered another injury on Sunday when she tweaked her ankle while vaulting to a 9.825 score. She was placed last in the lineup on beam with the intention of competing only if one of her teammates fell before her. When that happened, she was pressed into duty, needing to hit her routine in order for the Bruins to not count a fall. Schwikert responded like a champion to the pressure situation, scoring a meet-high tying 9.85. This is UCLA's third consecutive Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week honor, with previous honors going to Ariana Berlin (Feb. 13) and Kristina Comforte (Feb. 6).

Bruins Rise Above Injuries To Record Season-High 196.675 - Despite competing with five gymnasts on three of the four events, the Bruins recorded a season-high 196.675 to defeat Arizona State, Cal State Fullerton and UC Davis is a home quad meet on Sunday. With many of the team members nursing injuries (Tasha Schwikert, Maranda Smith and Melissa Chan were unavailable), head coach Valorie Kondos Field strategically placed banged-up gymnasts at the end of the lineup with the intention of not competing them if the first five athletes hit. The strategy was executed brilliantly on vault and bars, which helped preserve Janelle Dantzscher's hyper extended knee. UCLA's first five vaulters scored a 49.2, and the first five bar workers earned a team season-high 49.4. On beam, a fall at the No. 2 spot forced Jordan Schwikert (injured ankle) into competition, but she responded like a champion, scoring a meet-high tying 9.85. UCLA's first five on floor scored a season-high-tying 49.275 to close the meet, with Kate Richardson nearly flawless with a season-best 9.95. Richardson, who did not compete at the Bruins' Friday meet in Georgia due to a tricep injury, won the all-around with a 39.55.

Injury-Depleted Bruins Post 195.2 At Georgia - Injury-ravaged UCLA traveled just eight members to Athens, Ga. to face top-ranked and defending NCAA champion Georgia on Friday. Despite the uphill battle, the Bruins posted a score of 195.2 and counted just one fall, which came on bars, an event on which the team was only able to compete five people. Jordan Schwikert won two events, scoring a career-high 9.95 on vault and tying her career-best with a 9.925 on beam. Kristina Comforte placed third in the all-around with a 39.3.

Janelle Dantzscher Has Career Night At Georgia - Freshman Janelle Dantzscher put together a career performance at Georgia, recording personal-bests on all four events and the all-around. She started the night by scoring a 9.775 on bars in just her second counting routine on that event. She competed for the first time on vault and scored a 9.725. On floor, she had the Bruins' best score of the night, a 9.825, and she finished the night by scoring a 9.8 on beam. Her all-around mark of 39.125 beat her only other previous all-around mark by nearly two full points.

Jordan Schwikert Back On Track After Shoulder Surgery - Sophomore All-American Jordan Schwikert is back to her old form after being sidelined from November-late January after arthroscopic shoulder surgery. Since returning on three events on Feb. 3, she has won at least one event in each of the last three meets and has set career-highs on all three events in which she has competed in the last two weeks (9.95 on vault and 9.925 on beam to win at Georgia and 9.9 on floor to win against Washington). Schwikert is averaging 9.808 on vault (second-best on the team), with three scores of 9.9 or better in the last four meets. She also leads the team with a 9.825 average on floor. Her sister Tasha Schwikert, who had the same surgery in December, remains out but is progressing well. The reigning NCAA all-around champion was cleared last week to start training skills.

Berlin Beating The Odds - Freshman walk-on Ariana Berlin has been one of the most pleasant surprises in collegiate gymnastics this season. Berlin, who prior to this season had not competed in gymnastics since a serious car accident in 2001 halted her budding elite career, has been one of UCLA's rocks, hitting 31 of 32 routines so far this season. She has broken into the all-around lineup in each of the last seven meets and recorded a best of 39.2 vs. Washington to win her first all-around title. Berlin, who is ranked 15th in the all-around in this week's national rankings, was selected the UCLA/MET-Rx Student-Athlete of the Week for Jan. 17-22 after placing second in the all-around at Washington and scoring 38.95 against Oregon State two days later and earned Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week acclaim this week.

Peckett Perfect 16-for-16 - The most consistent athlete for the Bruins this season has been junior Ashley Peckett, who has hit all 16 of her routines this year. She holds the Bruins' second-best average on bars (9.813) and third-best on vault (9.803) and has scored season-highs of 9.9 on bars and 9.875 on vault. Peckett has hit 49 consecutive routines dating back to last season.

Comforte Scores Nation's Perfect 10 - Freshman Kristina Comforte became the first gymnast in the nation to score a perfect 10 this season. At Cal State Fullerton on Feb. 3, Comforte hit a flawless Yurchenko layout full vault to receive her first career perfect score. Comforte, a current member of the U.S. National Team, also won the uneven bars at that meet with a career-best 9.9 and placed second in the all-around with a career-high 39.475. In addition, she finished third on both beam (9.825) and floor (9.75). The only other athlete to score a perfect 10 this year is Comforte's former club teammate Liz Tricase of Stanford. Tricase scored a 10 on bars on Feb. 17.

Freshmen Practically Seasoned Veterans - With the amount of competition time the seven-member Bruin freshman class has already attained this season, they could easily be described as seasoned veterans. In UCLA's first nine meets, the freshmen have accounted for 146 of the team's 212 routines (69%). Four freshmen - Kristina Comforte, Melissa Chan, Ariana Berlin and Janelle Dantzscher - have gone all-around at least once, with each scoring in the 39s at least once.

Richardson Ranks No. 1 - Two-time Olympian Kate Richardson is tops in the nation in the all-around this week with a RQS of 39.340. Richardson has posted all-around victories in six of her eight meets. She achieved a season-best Feb. 10 at Cal, scoring 39.575, and swept the individual titles, winning the all-around and all four events.

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