Pac-10 Conference Championships Up Next For Huskies

March 21, 2006

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The Meet: The 35th-ranked Husky gymnastics team (6-16 overall, 2-9 Pac-10) headright back to Corvallis, Ore. for Saturday's Pac-10 Conference Championships after competing there in the Salbasgeon Suites Invitational last Friday. All seven conference teams will be at the 7 p.m. meet on March 25 at Oregon State's Gill Coliseum. Live stats of Saturday's meet will be available at www.osubeavers.com.

Last Week: The Huskies scored a season-high 193.675 and Kelly McDonald continued her remarkable resurgence to keep the Huskies in contention for a possible NCAA Regional invite. McDonald tied for first on beam with a season-best 9.9 and was second All-Around out of 14 competitors scoring a Husky season-high 39.325 at the Salbasgeon Suites Invitational. The team was fourth among five teams at the meet, with host Oregon State topping all scores with a 196.550. McDonald was ninth on vault (9.8), third on bars (9.825) and 14th on floor (9.8). Freshman Kristen Omori tied her season-high with a 9.85 on floor for sixth and also was eigth on vault (9.825) and 12th on beam (9.775).

Huskies in the Pac-10 Conference Championships: Washington was fifth at the Pac-10 Championships last year, with UCLA topping all foes with a 197.100. The Huskies scored a 194.425 to edge out Arizona State and California. The Huskies have never finished higher than third in the conference championships since it went to the current seven team format in 1988. During that span, Washington has been third three times (2001, 2000, 1997), fourth once (2003), fifth eight times (2005, 2002, 1998, 1996, 1994, 1993, 1989, 1988), sixth five times (2004, 1999, 1995, 1991, 1990) and seventh once (1992). The Huskies have had 11 Pac-10 Champions (last, Molly Seaman, BB, 2004) and 21 All-Conference gymnasts (last, Seaman, BB, 2004 & Carly Dockendorf, FX, 2004).

Scouting the Pac-10: Five teams in the Pac-10 conference are ranked in the latest GymInfo Poll. Arizona State is the highest ranked team, sitting ninth with a RQS of 196.120. Stanford is 10th (196.085), followed by UCLA at No. 11 (196.005), No. 15 Arizona (195.615) and No. 17 Oregon State (195.235). Washington is ranked 35th (193.170) and California is No. 45 (192.170). ASU's Ashley Kelly is the nation's No. 2 ranked All-Around performer with a 39.530 average.

NCAA Streak On The Line: Washington has never missed qualifying for a NCAA Regional as a team in the 31 year history of the gymnastics program dating back to 1975. 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 Boise State (193.995), Sacramento State (193.880) and San Jose State (193.305). The Huskies need to score above their season-high 193.675 this weekend to increase their current Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) of 193.170. The Huskies also need San Jose St. to score below its RQS average at the WAC Championships on Saturday to keep hope alive of gaining the third and final West Regional bid.

Old McDonald Resurgence: After not competing All-Around in 2005 and for the first nine meets of 2006, senior Kelly McDonald has made a miraculous return to prominence for the Huskies. In the last three meets, McDonald has competed in every event for the Huskies and proven that you can teach an old Dawg new tricks. In the Huskies home finale against Oregon St. and SPU at Bank of America Arena, the Huskies lone senior won bars and also earned her first career floor title. The following week, she earned the All-Around title at Arkansas. Last week, McDonald was second All-Around and won bars, giving her 24 career individual titles, 11th most in UW history. 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.

Freshman Phenom: Freshman Ashley Houghting has eight individual vault titles this season, the fourth highest total in Husky history by a freshman. Hall of Famer Yumi Mordre won 19, Wendi Gangwer 18 and Suzie Sun 17 as freshmen. Houghting's eight vault wins ties her for the sixth most on the apparatus in UW history. She has only missed out winning the event in three meets that she has competed in and the Stanford meet (Feb. 24), which she missed due to a back injury. Houghting is currently ranked 11th nationally on vault with a RQS of 9.895.

Talkin' Bakken: Junior co-captain Chelsea Bakken is hopeful of earning an invite to compete All-Around at regionals if the Huskies do not qualify as a team. Her RQS of 38.495 is good enough to gain entry to regionals. Bakken totaled a season-best 38.825 last week in Corvallis and scored a 9.6 or higher on all four events for the first time this season. She did not compete All-Around in three meets this season due to a knee injury, but has competed in all four event in the last two meets. Other Huskies that should compete at NCAA Regionals if the Huskies are unable to qualify as a team are: Kelly McDonald (BB, UB), Ashley Houghting (V) and Kristen Omori (FX).

That's Omori: Freshman Kristen Omori has made quite a splash in her first season as a Husky. Although she has won just one individual title (floor vs. Cal on Feb. 17), she has emerged as one of the Huskies most consistent performers. Omori has competed on vault, beam and floor in all 12 meets, the only Huskies to do so. Her scores have been stellar during that span too, as the Kirkland, Wash., native has scored a 9.7 or higher in 32 of those 36 routines. She has yet to score below a 9.725 on vault and has only scored below a 9.725 on floor once this season at the year's first meet in Hawai'i. Omori is ranked 12th in the Pac-10 on vault, 20th on beam, and 17th on floor.

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