Between The Bars

Jan. 6, 2007

A New Season ~

This is Ariana Berlin writing this update. We are so excited after our first meet of the season tonight. There is so much to say that happened behind the scenes that prove we are a much stronger and bonded team this year. I can't even explain how much fun we had, mainly because we worked so well together as a team through quite a few unknowns going into the meet.

First of all, Miss Val wasn't with us due to a death in her family. We all wanted to prove that we had prepared well and didn't want her to worry about us. I even wrote her a text before the meet telling her not to worry about us and that we had it under control. Another unknown was that my leg with the rod in it has been hurting for the past three weeks to the point I haven't been able to train, so we didn't know what events I would be able to compete on, if any. Jordan pulled her high hamstring last weekend, and the plan was for her not to compete until she's pain-free. Plus, Anna and Forte (Kristina) are both coming back from injury, and Jenks (Ashley Jenkins) hadn't competed in about three years. Also, Natalie and Michelle hadn't ever competed in Pauley Pavilion. A LOT of unknowns, but we've all worked so hard and well together since September, and we were determined to make it a great experience.

Before warm-ups the coaches, trainers, and I decided it would be best to not warm up vault and to just do the 30 second touch and compete so that I could save my leg. After the 30 second touch, I felt I could compete vault (Wow I love adrenalin ... my pain was pretty much gone!). We all rocked our vaults. It was so much fun to see Natalie hit her vault in her first time competing as a Bruin. And we all went crazy when OC (Selesky) rocked her vault. She has worked so hard to compete well these past four years. All her hard work has paid off. She was on fire!

Moving on to bars, we didn't know if Jordan could compete or not. During warm-up, she felt that she wanted to attempt bars. After altering her entire routine around to do what she was able to do pain-free (taking out her jump-straddle over the bar mount, toe-hecht, and toe-on-toe-off) she was able to adjust and competed beautifully. Jordan was a true team player. We all did clean routines. It was so much fun to hear the crowd go crazy over Anna's sky high Tkatchev. We all felt badly for Tasha because she had an amazing routine going before she missed her release - but she finished her routine flawlessly. Tasha is really is a fierce competitor.

On to beam. Again, I didn't know if I was going to be able to compete on beam. I hadn't done a routine in three weeks. Fortunately, adrenalin was still taking hold, and I told Chris that I felt strong and knew I would hit. Tasha backed me up, and next thing I knew I was on the beam competing my three-flight series for the first time ever in competition. It felt great. It was awesome to see Forte be able to come in on at least this one event. While as a team we had a few mistakes and a few more bobbles, we know we can compete beam well and are looking forward to competing again on Friday, leaving the falls and bobbles behind.

On to our last event - SHOWTIME. Everyone was so excited to compete our new floor routines. Even though Jenks put her hands down on her last pass, you can just see it in her eyes, she loves to compete. Peckett was at her best all night long; she loves to compete more than anyone I've ever seen. It was sad Janelle sat down her double front because it was really good; she just opened up a bit early. Anna and Tasha were amazing. And we ALL agree that one of the most exciting parts of the meet was OC's floor routine. She literally brought down the house, scoring a 9.90! Not only did the crowd go crazy, but all of us teammates couldn't help but bombard her after her routine. She was SO excited. We were SO excited for her. It was a moment we'll remember all year long.

We're so excited for this season. We know we can get a lot better. We're excited to eventually get Forte and Jordan back in the line up. And we all agree this meet will definitely go down in the records as one of our most exciting competitions ever.



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