Huskies Seek Upsets vs. Top-10 Foes OSU, Utah

March 13, 2007

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The Meet: Washington continues its six-week road swing meet Friday, facing No. 7 Utah, No. 10th Oregon State and Seattle Pacific at the annual Salbasgeon Suites Invitational. The Huskies will be on familiar turf facing highly-ranked opponents on the road -- Friday's meet will mark UW's third-straight road competition against a top-26 foe, and their second road contest against a top-10 opponent this year, including a previous matchup at Utah on Feb. 19. The action starts at 7:00 pm PST on Friday, Mar. 16th, with both a live webcast and live stats provided at www.osubeavers.com.

The Week That Was: Despite floor and all-around event victories from sophomore Ashley Houghting, the Huskies couldn't hold on Saturday night against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Washington led the meet heading into the fourth rotation, but a strong floor performance by Minnesota sophomore Carmelina Carabajal (9.900) vaulted the Gophers to a 194.375-194.075 win over the Huskies.

Huskies Quick Notes: The GymDawgs earned their fourth straight score over 194.000 versus Minnesota ... Washington's team score of 195.800 versus OSU and SPU was its highest since the 2004 Pac-10 Championships ... Washington has topped 193 points in eight-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 blown past that total in 2007 with 12 victories on the season, including six wins on vault, four on floor and two in the all-around ... Houghting's 14 career victories on vault has set a UW career record, while her 20 total wins put her just seven victories short of adding her name to UW's top-10 career victories list ... junior Nikki Waiss has scored above a 9.825 on bars at each of UW's last five meets ... 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.

Beavers At A Glance: The No. 10 Oregon State Beavers, led by 2006 Pac-10 Athlete of the Week award winners Jamie Lanz and Tasha Smith, head into Saturday's meet having won five of their last seven meets, losing only to No. 4 Stanford and No. 15 Iowa State. The Beavs have had critical wins this season over No. 6 UCLA, No. 22 Brigham Young and No. 23 Arizona State.

UW-Oregon State Series: Washington enters Friday's meet looking to stop the Beavers' streak of 10-straight wins in the long-running series between the two regional rivals. Even a season-high 195.800 wasn't enough to topple the Beavers three weeks ago, as Oregon State left Seattle with a 196.975-195.800 win to extend its all-time lead in the series to 81-26.

Did You Know?
Sophomore Ashley Houghting, with a vault RQS of 9.900, is currently tied for sixth in the nation in the event, marking Houghting's second-straight season among the nation's top-10 on vault. Not since Carly Dockendorf merited back-to-back top-10 floor exercise rankings in 2004 and 2005 has a Husky gymnast earned a top-10 national ranking in two-consecutive seasons.

Utes At A Glance: Last year's NCAA runner-up utah enters Friday's meet with an 8-3 record and the nation's No. 7 ranking to their credit. Utah is led in 2007 by local product Kristina Baskett, a Normandy Park, Wash., native and the defending NCAA bars champion. Baskett won vault vs. UW in the two teams' first meeting this year, at which then-No. 3 handed the Huskies a 196.725-193.850 defeat. Baskett currently ranks among the nation's top-10 on both vault and bars. One injury of note for the Utes -- seven-time All-Ameriacn Nicolle Ford, winner of the beam, floor and all-around vs. UW in January -- is questionable on vault and floor after suffering an ankle injury three weeks ago.

UW-Utah Series: Utah has the upper hand in the long-running series between the two schools, winning 34 of 35 matchups all-time, including this season's dual in Salt Lake City. Washington put the lone blemish on Utah's record in 2001, scoring a 10.0 on floor in the final rotation to earn a 196.725-196.725 tie.

Falcons At A Glance: SPU enters Friday's meet looking to stem the tide of a five-match losing streak that has seen their record fall to 1-12. The Falcons (1-6), who boast a season-best team score of 192.050, have battled injuries throughout much of the season, with senior Debra Huss providing leadership on all events, including wins on beam floor and all-around last weekend.

UW-SPU Series: Washington has long controlled the series against SPU, defeating its cross-town rival 62 times in 65 total meetings, including a 195.800-190.050 win in Seattle last month. One needs only to go back to Mar. 8, 2004, however, to find the Falcons' last upset in the series, a 192.875-191.475 win at Brougham Pavilion. Since then, the Huskies have won six-straight vs. SPU.

Rankings Report: The GymDawgs held steady at No. 28 in this week's GymInfo Collegiate Rankings, even as their regional qualfying score (RQS) increased slightly to 194.220. The RQS, on which both team and individual rankings are based, 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 Cal (194.800), Arizona State (194.450) and Minnesota (194.075) -- being averaged for the RQS. Georgia slipped past Florida into No. 1 in the national rankings with a 197.385 RQS, slightly ahead of the Gators' 197.375. This week's UW opponents rank No. 7 (Utah, 196.380), No. 10 (OSU, 195.945) and No. 54 (190.690) nationally in RQS.

To Be The Best, Beat The Best: Washington received no favors from the schedule-makers in 2007. Nine of the Huskies' 13 regular-season opponents are ranked in this week's GymInfo Top-25, including No. 4 Stanford, No. 6 UCLA, No. 7 Utah, No. 10 Oregon State, No. 14 Arizona, No. 23 Arizona State and No. 25 Minnesota. In fact, each of UW's seven losses this season have come to top-25 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: Washington continues to remain relatively free of serious injuries, besides the earlier season-ending injuries to junior Raimey Iselin and freshman Bonita Lee, both of whom sufferedtorn 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 for three weeks, before adding beam last weekend at Minnesota.

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 12 wins to up her career total to 20, 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 upped that total to 12 in 2007 to close to within seven victories of UW's career top-10. 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 four floor wins and two all-around crowns to accompany her six vault victories. Those six vault wins, however, increased Houghting's career total in the event to 14, two more than the UW career record of 12 set initially by Klara Kudilkova. In fact, Houghting has been defeated on vault just six times in her collegiate career, out of 20 total competitions. Houghting currently ranks sixth in the nation on vault with an RQS of 9.900, and is the nation's 17th-ranked gymnast on floor at 9.870.

Wonderful Waiss: After waiting more than three-and-a-half years for her first collegiate win before capturing bars honors at Cal on Feb. 18, junior Nikki Waiss needed just five more days to add a second victory, taking the bars again in a three-way meet vs. Oregon State and Seattle Pacific. The Mill Creek, Wash., native, appears to be finding her stride after missing all of the 2006 season, and portions of 2005, with various injuries, the most serious a ruptured ACL during the fall of 2005. After starting off slowly in 2007, Waiss has been on fire for the season's last month, posting five-straight scores over 9.825 on bars, and showing off a newly-added vault routine with five-straight 9.75s or better, including a 9.85 at Arizona State. Waiss' bars win vs. OSU and SPU came on the strength of a career-best 9,925 score, helping raise her RQS to 9.820 (11th Pac-10) entering the weekend.

Beaming Up: After a season-long struggle on beam, signs began to point up for Washington in the event after recording its highest beam scores in over a year at back-to-back meets on Feb. 18 and Feb. 23. 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 five weeks, and has not scored below a 47.675 in any of its last five competitions. If Washington can post 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 three of the past four 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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