Red-Hot GymDawgs Head to Arizona Desert

Feb. 27, 2007

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The Meet: Washington will be seeking to improve its season-best score for the fourth-straight week when the team travels to Tempe, Ariz., for a battle with Pac-10 rival Arizona State this Fri., Mar. 2. Action is scheduled to begin at 6:00 p.m. PT, with live scoring available through ASU's official website, www.thesundevils.com. Washington will continue its road swing next Saturday, Mar. 10, at Minnesota, before wrapping up the regular-season Pac-10 slate at OSU on Mar. 16.

The Week That Was: Junior Nikki Waiss won the uneven bars Friday and No. 28 Washington posted its highest team score since the 2004 Pac-10 Championships to take second place in a three-way meet at Bank of America Arena. Fifteenth-ranked Oregon State earned the team title with a 196.975, ahead of Washington's 195.800 and the 190.050 of third-place Seattle Pacific. Despite missing one of its top scorers in three events, senior Chelsea Bakken, Washington posted season-highs on vault (49.100), bars (48.725), beam (48.850) and floor (49.125), and counted at least two scorers above 9.800 in each. Waiss' winning bars score of 9.925 was a career-best in the event and equal to the highest individual score by a Husky this year. In all, the Huskies scored 12 routines over 9.800, including four such marks on vault, two on bars, three on beam and three on floor.

Huskies Quick Notes: Washington's team score of 195.800 versus OSU and SPU was its highest since the 2004 Pac-10 Championships ... the Huskies have improved their season-best team score at each of the past three meets, including 193.925 vs. Arizona, 194.800 at Cal, and 195.800 vs. OSU/SPU ... Washington has topped 193 points in six-straight meets, a total topped by UW just six times in all of 2006 ... the Huskies' 194.800-193.025 win at Cal was its most lopsided Pac-10 win since a 195.850-193.600 win over Cal in January of 2004 ... seven of the Huskies' 15 gymnasts have earned victories this season, something just three accomplished in all of last year ... Washington has swept all five events twice this season, including vs. Utah State and at Cal ... four Huskies have earned their first-career victories in any event this season, including Raimey Iselin (bars vs. USU), Nikki Waiss (bars vs. Cal), Kelly Gilbert (beam vs. Cal) and Tori Quandt (beam vs. Cal) ... sophomore Ashley Houghting, winner of eight events in 2006, has already matched that total in 2007, including four wins on vault, three on floor and one in the all-around ... Houghting's 12 career victories on vault tie a UW career record, while her 16 total wins equal the 14th-most ever at UW ... sophomore Kristen Omori scored 9.850s or higher on both vault and floor in 2006, and opened her 2007 campaign with a win on beam against Utah State ... senior Chelsea Bakken scored a career-best 39.025 to win the all-around against Utah State, and is UW's top-returning all-arounder ... with the win vs. SPU, Washington improved its all-time non-conference home record to 81-15-1, including a 18-4 record since the re-opening of Bank of America Arena in 2002.

Sun Devils At A Glance: Arizona State (1-4 overall, 1-3 Pac-10), enters Friday's meet seeking just its second Pac-10 win of the year. Ranked as high as 17th nationally before the rankings switched to RQS (ASU does not have enough total meets for an RQS ranking), the Sun Devils have run up against some stiff competition, losing to UCLA, Oregon State and Oklahoma despite topping 195.725 in each. The Sun Devils are led by returning beam All-American Nicole Harris and team captain April Boone.

UW-ASU Series: Washington enters Friday's meet hoping for a repeat of its last trip to Tempe, in 2005, when the Huskies left with a 193.050-192.750 win. The Sun Devils swept both of the teams' meetings in 2006, including a 195.175-191.525 victory in Seattle and a 193.900-192.750 win at the Pac-10 Championships in Corvallis, Ore., and leads the all-time series 38-13.

Did You Know?
Washington has improved its season-best team score at all but one meet this season, including a total of 195.800 last week hat was the Huskies' best since 2004. More remarkable is that the Huskies continue to improve even while losing key competitors, including bar worker Raimey Iselin (out for the year) and all-arounder Chelsea Bakken (limited to bars only vs. Cal and OSU/SPU).

Rankings Report: The GymDawgs fell four spots to 32nd in this week's GymInfo Collegiate Rankings, as more teams met the minimum requirement for a regional qualifying score (RQS), and were added to the rankings ahead of the Huskies. The Huskies' RQS of 192.885 is obtained by throwing out a team's high score and averaging its next five-best scores, at least three of which must be from road competitions. Currently, Washington's 195.800 vs. OSU/SPU stands as the team's high score and is thus discarded, with the team's next five scores -- including mandatory road scores at UCLA (188.175), Utah (193.850) and Cal (194.800) -- being averaged for the RQS. Washington should see a significant boost in its RQS after this week's meet at ASU, which (assuming UW scores higher than 188.175 ) will allow the team to finally drop its season-low score at UCLA from consideration. Were that score to be tossed out now, along with UW's high score vs. OSU/SPU, the Huskies would boast an RQS of 193.895, and would rank 26th in the nation.

To Be The Best, Beat The Best: Washington received no favors from the schedule-makers in 2007. Seven of the Huskies' 10 regular-season opponents are ranked in this week's GymInfo Top-30, including No. 3 Stanford, No. 5 Utah, No.6 UCLA, No. 11 Oregon State, No. 17 Arizona, No. 28 Minnesota, and No. 30 Utah State, while Arizona State, ranked 17th two weeks ago, is sure to rejoin the top-25 next week after it meets the minimum requirements for an RQS this weekend. In fact, each of UW's four losses this season have come to top-15 teams -- including three top-10 opponents. A difficult schedule is nothing the Huskies aren't used to, however -- in 2006, 18 of UW's 28 opponents boasted top-20 rankings at the time of their meeting, including all but one of the Huskies' six Pac-10 foes.

Injury Update: As is typically the case two months into the season, nagging injuries are beginning to be the norm for many UW gymnasts. Washington has so far suffered just two season-ending injuries, with both junior Raimey Iselin and freshman Bonita Lee suffering torn meniscuses that will keep them out until 2007-08. Besides those two, however, the only Husky significantly limited of late has been senior Chelsea Bakken. Washington's top all-arounder, Bakken missed all of UW's Feb. 9 meet vs. Arizona with a sprained ankle and was limited to just bars work in each of the Huskies last two competitions.

Winning Ways: After putting just three Huskies on the victory stand in all of 2006, Washington has already boasted seven different event winners in 2007, its highest such total in more than a decade. Four of those seven earned their first-career wins in 2007, including sophomore Kelly Gilbert (BB vs. Cal) juniors Nikki Waiss (UB vs. Cal) and Raimey Iselin (UB vs. Utah St.), and senior Tori Quandt (BB vs. Cal). Sophomore Ashley Houghting has added eight wins to up her career total to 16, while sophomore Kristen Omori (BB vs. Utah State) and senior Chelsea Bakken (AA vs. Utah St.) have netted victories as well.

Hough'd She Do That?: Sophomore Ashley Houghting is quickly establishing herself as Washington's go-to gymnast for a big score. Winner of eight events in 2006, Houghting has already matched that total this season (through just six meets), and with another five regular-season meets remaining, is on pace to break into UW's all-time top-10 in career victories before the year is done. Known before 2007 for her prowess on vault -- the source of all eight of her victories as a freshman -- Houghting has this year added an all-around component to her repetoire, and has already ripped off three floor wins and an all-around crown to accompany her four vault victories. Houghting won all three events in UW's 194.800-193.025 win at Cal on Feb. 18, her vault victory equaling Klara Kudilkova's UW career record of 12 wins on the apparatus. In fact, Houghting has been defeated on vault just six times in her collegiate career, out of 18 total competitions. Houghting currently ranks among the nation's best on vault and floor, with a 9.820 RQS in the latter that is tied for 39th nationally entering competition this week.

Guess Who's Bak?: Senior Chelsea Bakken had perhaps the best meet of her collegiate career Jan. 12 vs. Utah State, scoring at least a 9.725 on every event and winning the all-around with a career-best 39.025. Bakken's win, the first of her UW career in the all-around, was a terrific start to what has the makings of an outstanding season for the Mesa, Ariz., native. Bakken led all Huskies in 2006 with an all-around RQS of of 38.495 (14th Pac-10, 72nd nation), and had won three times previously, including twice on vault, and once on floor.

Beaming Up: After a season-long struggle on beam, signs are pointing up for Washington in the event after recording its highest beam scores in over a year at each of its last two competitions. The Huskies' 48.800 total at Cal -- including winning scores of 9.800 by sophomore Kelly Gilbert and senior Tori Quandt -- and its 48.850 score vs. OSU and SPU (including 9.875s by Natalie Gillan and Kristen Omori -- were well beyond their previous season-best of 48.025, and were the team's highest beam scores since a 48.925 effort at Arizona on Feb. 3, 2006. Most encouraging for UW is that after opening the season with back-to-back 47.350 and 47.375 performances on beam, the team has topped the 48-point mark three times in the past four weeks, and has not scored below a 47.875 in any of its last five competitions. If Washington can maintain its high beam scores, the Huskies could pull off some upsets before the year is out -- Washington has already topped 49 points on both vault and floor this season, and has recorded season-best bars scores at each of the past three meets.

Meet the Coaches: Washington is fortunate to have an outstanding trio of first-year coaches in 2007, including head coach Joanne Bowers and assistant coaches Shanna Duggan and David McCreary. Bowers has amassed impressive credentials as an assistant coach at Michigan from 2002-06, coaching 13 All-Americans and four Big Ten champions, while helping guide the Wolverines to five-straight NCAA appearances. Duggan also brings a winning attitude to Washington after a stellar collegiate career during which she earned second-team All-Big Ten honors, and was an Academic All-American, while McCreary has placed several gymnasts on the U.S. National Team during a distinguished 20-year coaching career at the club level.

The Future's So Bright: First-year head coach Joanne Bowers has already signed four outstanding preps to letters of intent for the 2007-08 academic year. Samantha (Sam) Wailor (Prior Lake, Minn./Thompson's Academy) is a six-time national qualifier and four-time Region 4 all-around champion, while Danielle Henderson (Visalia, Calif./Central Calif. Gymnastics Institute) is a Region 1 floor champion and a two-time Junior Olympics natiuonal qualifier. They'll be joined by two-time Junior Olympics national qualifier Haley Bogart (Woodside, Calif./Airborne Gymnastics) and Region 3 all-around runner-up Karen Cain (Kyle, Tex./Olympic Hill Gymnastics), who both boast impressive resumes as well.

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