UCLA Sets Bar High In Victory At John Wooden Challenge

Feb. 25, 2007

Los Angeles, Calif. - The sixth-ranked UCLA Gymnastics rose a season-high score of 49.7 on uneven bars to a quad meet victory over 11th-ranked Denver, California and Cal State Fullerton in the annual John Wooden Challenge at Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins earned a final team score of 196.250 to defeat 11th-ranked Denver (193.700) by over two and a half points. California placed third with a 192.450, and Cal State Fullerton was fourth with a 191.925. UCLA sophomore Ariana Berlin won the all-around with a career-high 39.325.

UCLA started strong on vault, posting a 49.275. Berlin led off with a 9.775, followed by a 9.8 from Anna Li. Ashley Peckett earned a 9.85, Jordan Schwikert posted a season-high 9.9 and Tasha Schwikert anchored with a stuck Yurchenko full for a 9.95 score and first place on the event.

The Bruins lit it up on uneven bars in the second rotation, recording a 49.7, which tied for the fourth-highest bars score in school history and for the highest bars score in the nation this year. Natalie Padilla led off with a season-high 9.75, and Peckett really got the ball rolling with a season-best 9.9. Berlin and Jordan Schwikert followed with a pair of 9.975s, each receiving a perfect 10 from one of the two judges. Tasha Schwikert seemed on her way to a perfect 10 but windmilled her arms on her full-twisting double-back dismount in order to stick the landing and scored a season-high 9.925. Li also scored a 9.925 on her routine that was highlighted by her usual sky-high Tkatchev. The team score of 49.7 gave the Bruins a halfway mark of 98.975, more than a point and a half ahead of second-place Denver, who was at 97.425 after two events.

Balance beam produced a 49.075 score for the Bruins in the third rotation. Berlin led off with a 9.825, and after Peckett suffered a rare fall, the rest of the lineup came through with hit routines. Ashley Jenkins scored a 9.775, and Jordan Schwikert recorded a season-high 9.875. Li earned a 9.7, and Tasha Schwikert closed with a 9.9 to win the event for the fifth-straight meet.

With a three-event score of 148.05, the energy was flowing for UCLA in the final rotation on floor exercise. Unfortunately for the Bruins, they couldn't quite contain it, suffering three-tenths of a point in out-of-bounds deductions and finishing with an event total of 48.2. UCLA's high scorer on floor was Li with a 9.825 that was good for second place overall. Berlin had a 9.75 to tie for third, and Peckett scored a 9.725 despite an out-of-bounds deduction.

The Bruins will next host two-time defending champion Georgia on Sunday, Mar. 4 at 2 pm. UCLA seniors Ashley Peckett and Michelle Selesky will be honored in pre-meet festivities, and the 1997 NCAA Championship team will be honored post-meet as UCLA celebrates its 10-year anniversary of its first NCAA Women's Gymnastics title.

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