UCLA Gymnasts Defeat Washington In Season Opener, 194.0-188.175

Jan. 6, 2007

Los Angeles, Calif. - In the 2007 season opener, the fifth-ranked UCLA gymnastics team topped Washington, 194.0-188.175. Freshman Anna Li (Aurora, Ill.) led the Bruins with a first-place all-around score of 39.0, but the highlight of the night was the performance of senior Michelle Selesky (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.), who had a career night, winning the floor exercise with a career-high 9.9 and placing third on vault with a personal-best 9.825.

The Bruins began the meet with a solid score of 49.175 on vault. Sophomore Ariana Berlin gave UCLA a strong leadoff score, vaulting a nice Yurchenko layout full with just a step back, scoring a 9.825. Junior transfer Natalie Padilla followed with a 9.75 on a Yurchenko Arabian in her first routine as a Bruin. Li got huge height and distance on her Yurchenko layout full and hopped back on the landing, scoring a 9.775. Selesky vaulted a Yurchenko Arabian for the first time in competition and hit a beautiful vault with great form, with just a small step forward, scoring a career-high 9.825. Senior Ashley Peckett followed with tight form and a near-stick on her landing of her Yurchenko Arabian to score a 9.85. Junior Tasha Schwikert, in her first competition in Pauley Pavilion in over a year, nailed her Yurchenko layout full for a 9.9. Washington, meanwhile, scored 47.025 on uneven bars, led by a 9.575 from senior Chelsea Bakken.

UCLA increased its lead in the second rotation, scoring 48.725 on uneven bars. Li led the charge with huge release moves and a nice double layout dismount that merited a meet-winning 9.85. Berlin added a 9.775, and Ashley Jenkins earned a 9.75 in her UCLA debut for third place.

The Bruins struggled on the balance beam in the third rotation, counting a fall and recording just 47.525. Kristina Comforte had the Bruins' top score, earning a 9.725. Berlin added a 9.675 that was good for third place. Despite the troubles, however, UCLA still led 145.425-140.825.

Finishing up on floor exercise, UCLA entranced the crowd with dazzling floor routines despite a few stumbles. Selesky continued her stellar night with another personal-best 9.9, two-tenths higher than her previous career-best. Li followed with a 9.8, and Tasha Schwikert closed the evening with a 9.875, to give UCLA a team total of 48.575 on floor. Washington had its best rotation on balance beam, scoring a 47.35, led by a meet-high tying 9.725 by Ashley Houghting.

Li won the all-around in her collegiate debut, while Tasha Schwikert placed second with a 38.750. Washington's Natalie Gillan placed third with a 37.825.

'This was a great start to the season,' said UCLA assistant coach Chris Waller, who was filling in for head coach Valorie Kondos Field as she was absent due to a death in the family. 'Our freshmen busted out with a lot of good confidence, and our veterans showed that they are back. It's a great start, and I know that we're going to build with every meet. We showed great potential. The girls are all fired up already and are ready to challenge Utah next week.'

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