Bruin Gymnasts Head To Louisiana For Regular Season Finale

March 14, 2006

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UCLA Ends Regular Season At LSU - Tenth-ranked UCLA (16-4) travels to Baton Rouge, La. for a dual meet against eighth-ranked LSU (10-8) on Friday, Mar. 17 at 7 pm Central Time. The meet will take place at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

Live Coverage - Live scoring will be available at LSUSports.net.

In The Rankings - UCLA ranks 10th in this week's national rankings, which are based on Regional Qualifying Score (RQS). The Bruins are ranked sixth on vault (49.185), seventh on bars (49.045) and 11th on beam (48.885) and floor (49.065). Individually, senior Kate Richardson ranks fifht in the nation in the all-around (39.435) and is in the Top 15 on all four events, checking in at eighth on vault (9.9) and ninth on beam (9.880), 11th on bars (9.880) and 15th on floor (9.885). Freshman Kristina Comforte ranks 17th in the all-around (39.230) and is fifth on bars (9.9) and 11th on beam (9.870).

About The Tigers - LSU is led by nine-time All-American and two-time SEC Gymnast of the Year April Burkholder. The Tigers missed out on the NCAA Super Six last year by .075. Other returning All-Americans for LSU are Lisa Rennie and Terin Martinjak. Rennie trained at Gym Cats with Bruin sophomores Jordan and Tasha Schwikert. Burkholder ranks eighth in the all-around (39.395), and Kelly Phelan is tied for 15th (39.245). LSU has three gymnasts ranked in the Top 25 on floor - No. 2 Phelan, No. 9 Burkholder and No. 23 Martinjak.

Week Off Helps Bruised Bruins - UCLA received a much-needed break from competition, with nearly two weeks between meets. The week off gave several of the banged-up Bruins a chance to recover from injuries and illness that has plagued the team all year. Freshman Janelle Dantzscher, who missed the last meet due to illness, is healthy now and will be competing this weekend. Dantzscher has been a big contributor on all events, earning season-highs of 39.125 in the all-around, 9.725 on vault, 9.775 on bars, 9.8 on beam and 9.875 on floor. Classmate Melissa Chan, who has been out since mid-February due to a calf injury, is questionable for Friday. Chan has been a valuable all-arounder for UCLA this season, recording a season-best of 39.375 to win the Oregon State meet. She has scored 9.8 or better on beam in six of her seven meets and has season-bests of 9.85 on vault, 9.825 on bars and 9.9 on beam and floor. Still out this week, however, are Michelle Selesky (sprained ankle) and Maranda Smith (will redshirt this season due to a stress fracture in her right shin). Tasha Schwikert (shoulder injury) continues to progress well with her rehab and training.

Bruins Place Second In Tri-Meet - A rocky beam rotation set UCLA back in its quest to win its home finale Mar. 5, and the Bruins placed second with a score of 195.15. Stanford won the meet with a 195.95. With injuries affecting the lineup once again, only two Bruins (Kristina Comforte with a career-high-tying 9.9 and Jordan Schwikert with a 9.85) hit their beam routines, leading to a season-low score of 47.525. UCLA came back to hit a strong floor set to close the meet but still placed second. Comforte won the all-around with a career-high 39.525 and also won beam and placed second on bars (9.9) and floor (career-high 9.9).

Freshmen Now Seasoned Veterans - With the amount of competition time the seven-member Bruin freshman class of Ariana Berlin, Melissa Chan, Kristina Comforte, Jalynne Dantzscher, Janelle Dantzscher, Alyssa Kitasoe and Maranda Smith has attained this season, they could easily be described as seasoned veterans. In 11 meets, the freshmen have accounted for 174 of the team's 260 routines (67%). Four freshmen - Comforte, Chan, Berlin and Janelle Dantzscher - have gone all-around three times or more, with each scoring in the 39s at least once.

Jordan Schwikert Back In All-Around - Sophomore All-American Jordan Schwikert is back on all four events after starting the season on the sidelines due to November shoulder surgery. She made her all-around season debut on Mar. 5 and scored 38.825. Schwikert has been a standout for the Bruins since her return, setting career-highs on vault (9.95) and beam (9.925) to win at Georgia and on floor (9.925) to win against Stanford and San Jose State. She has a team-best average of 9.825 on floor and ranks third on the team with a 9.8 average on vault. 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 late last month to start training skills.

Kate The Great - Senior Kate Richardson is having another oustanding season, ranking in the Top 15 in all four events and the all-around - one of just three gymnasts in the nation to hold that distinction. She has 28 individual victories this season, including seven in the all-around. The 10-time All-American leads UCLA with season averages of 9.873 on vault and 9.870 on bars and has recorded season-bests of 9.925 on vault and 9.95 on bars, beam and floor. Her all-around season-high is 39.575.

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 38 of 40 routines (95%) so far this season. She has become a mainstay in the all-around lineup in each of the last nine meets and recorded a best of 39.225 at Arizona on Feb. 24. She won her first all-around title on Feb. 12 against Washington with a score of 39.2. Berlin, who is ranked 33rd 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 after her all-around victory on Feb. 12.

Peckett Holds Near-Perfect Hit Percentage - Another steady competitor for UCLA has been junior Ashley Peckett. Limited to vault and bars for most of the season due to an ankle injury, she returned to the floor lineup on Mar. 5 and scored a 9.75 on a routine with a 9.9 start value. Peckett has recorded a nearly perfect 'hit' percentage this year, hitting 20 of 21 routines (95%). She has hit 53 of her last 54 consecutive routines dating back to last season. Peckett holds the Bruins' second-best average of vault (9.81) and third-best average on bars (9.76) and has scored season-highs of 9.9 on bars and 9.875 on vault.

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).

Sister Act 2 - 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). Jalynne has competed in every meet this season, scoring 9.8 on better on five of her last seven floor routines. Janelle has missed just one meet, the Mar. 5 tri-meet due to illness, and has competed in the all-around three times.

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 joined the Bruin team on Dec. 27. She began classes at UCLA in January for the start of winter quarter.

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. The honor roll student-athletes were Janelle Dantzscher, Jalynne Dantzscher, Ashley Peckett, Michelle Selesky, Courtney Walker, Kristina Comforte, Kate Richardson, Tasha Schwikert, Jordan Schwikert and Lindsey Vanden Eykel.

Looking Ahead - Post-season action begins on Mar. 25 at the Pac-10 Championships in Corvallis, Ore. The meet will take place at 6 pm at Gill Coliseum and will be televised on a delayed basis by Fox Sports Net. UCLA is the defending Pac-10 Champions and has won a total of 12 Pac-10 team titles in the 19-year history.

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