Huskies Fly Across Country to Face No. 20 Arkansas
March 8, 2006
The Meet: The 35th-ranked Husky gymnastics team (5-12 overall, 2-8 Pac-10) travel cross country to face the 20th-ranked Arkansas LadyBacks (6-9) at Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville, Ark., on Sunday at 10 a.m. PT. The Huskies' stay in Southeastern Conference territory will be a short one as the Huskies will arrive in Fayetteville Saturday evening and will return to Seattle Sunday night following the meet. Live stats of Sunday's meet will be available at www.ladybacks.com.
Last Week: Kelly McDonald shined for the Huskies in their final home meet of the season, but Oregon State left Seattle with the team victory. McDonald, the lone Husky senior, competed all-around for the first time since 2004 and did not disappoint in her last home meet. She was the only Husky to walk off the mat with an individual title, winning both floor and bars. Washington scored a 48 or higher as a team on all four events for the first time this season, and the Huskies scored a 193.300, their second-highest total of the year. OSU won the meet with a 194.600 and SPU was third with a 189.850. If you missed the meet, FSN Northwest will be showing a replay on March 13 at 7 p.m, March 17 at 1 p.m. & 7 p.m., and March 18 at 1 p.m.
Series History: Arkansas and Washington have met two times, with the LadyBacks winning both head-to-head battles. Arkansas visited Seattle last year for a tri-meet and left town with a 195.550-195.275 advantage. The two teams also faced each other in the season-opening Hawai'ian Classic on Jan. 3, where the LadyBacks outscored the Huskies 190.625-190.425. This is Washington's first-ever visit to Fayetteville, where Arkansas averages 3,413 fans per meet, the sixth-best attendance average in the country.
Scouting the LadyBacks: Arkansas competes in the tough SEC Conference against the likes of No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Florida, No. 3 Alabama and No. 7 LSU. The LadyBacks are 2-4 in SEC action, earning their wins against then-ranked No. 18 Kentucky and No. 13 Auburn. Sunday's meet will be the home finale for Arkansas and four seniors will be honored. The LadyBacks have a balanced lineup, evidenced by their rankings on vault (19th nationally), bars (22nd), beam (23rd) and floor (22nd). Senior Dana McQuillin and junior Cassie Drew are the LadyBacks top all-around performers
NCAA Streak On The Line: Washington has never missed qualifying for a NCAA Regional in the 31 year history of the gymnastics program dating back to 1975. The Huskies would qualify as of today based upon having the third-highest Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) among non-automatic qualifying teams from the West Reigion. The top 18 schools nationally automatically qualify for regional bids and the next three schools from each region gain bids. Currently, UCLA, Stanford and Oregon State are the only schools from the West Region that have automatic bids since they are ranked in the top 18. The top three remaining teams from the West Region are San Jose State (193.080), Sacramento State (192.680) and Washington (192.290). Boise State is narrowly behind Washington with a RQS of 192.285. The Huskies will see Boise State at the Salbasgeon Suites Invitational down in Corvallis on March 17.
McDonald Floors The Crowd: Last Friday night's meet against Oregon State and Seattle Pacific University at Bank of America Arena marked the final home appearance of Kelly McDonald. The Huskies lone senior shined brightly in front of many friends and family by competing all-around for the first time since the 2004 NCAA Regionals. She won bars and also earned her first career floor title, giving her 23 career individual event wins. She now ranks 12th on the all-time individual event titles list for UW and is one away from moving past Stacy Wong. McDonald holds the UW freshman record for all-around with a 39.675. She is one of four Huskies to ever score a 10 on vault and her career-best all-around score of 39.825 is the second-best in school history.
Running With the Pac: Several Huskies find themselves in the Pac-10's Top Ten rankings. Kelly McDonald is ranked on both beam and bars, while Ashley Houghting is on the list of top vaulters. McDonald is tied with Stanford's Natalie Foley for sixth on beam (9.835) and tied with ASU's Ashley Kelly for fifth on bars (9.865). Houghting had a hold on top Pac-10 vaulters for several weeks, but has fallen to third with a 9.895 average.
Rough Schedule: Ten of the Huskies 12 losses this season have come against teams currently ranked in the Top-25: Utah (6th), Stanford (8th), three times UCLA (10th), Arizona State (14th), Arizona (15th), Oregon State (17th), and Arkansas (20th). The Huskies still have re-matches against OSU and Arkansas on their schedule and will also face No. 18 Kentucky for the first time at OSU's Salbasgeon Suites Invitational.
Walking Wounded: While injuries have wreaked havoc on the Huskies gymnastics lineup throughout the season, several Huskies are starting to regain their health enough to return to the rotation. Perhaps the biggest boost is coming from senior Kelly McDonald, who after two years of only performing bars and beam routines is finally able to compete all-around for the Huskies. Natalie Gillan's injured toe is healing enough that the sophomore is able to compete on bars and may return to the vault and beam lineup soon. Chelsea Bakken's ailing knee is improving and only keeping her out of the floor lineup now. Ashley Houghting, who missed the Stanford meet with a back injury has returned to the all-around lineup. Nicole Waiss, Julie Medeiros, Raimey Iselin and Brittney Brabec will all miss the rest of the season with various injuries.