Huskies Drive to SPU for Regular-Season Finale

March 20, 2007

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The Meet: Fans of the GymDawgs will have one last chance to watch their favorite Washington seniors compete in Seattle on Friday night, as the Huskies travel the three miles across the Ship Canal to battle city-rival Seattle Pacific at the Falcons' Brougham Pavilion. Competition begins at 7 p.m., with ticket and parking information available through SPU's official website, www.spu.edu/depts/athletics.

The Week That Was: Washington's gymnasts earned four scores above 9.85 and three top-five individual finishes en route to a third-place finish Friday at the annual Salbasgeon Suites Invitational at Oregon State. After opening the meet with its second-highest score of the year on bars (48.825), Washington struggled on beam -- counting two falls -- before recovering with a strong rotations on floor (48.825) and vault (49.150), the latter a season-high. The Huskies scored 193.625 points at the meet, behind No. 7 Utah (196.675) and No. 10 Oregon State (196.600), but ahead of Seattle Pacific (189.750). Washington was led as it has been throughout the year by sophomore Ashley Houghting, who matched her career best with a 9.925 on vault, the highest score recorded by a Husky on the night.

Huskies Quick Notes: 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 nine-straight meets -- including a four-meet streak of scores of 194 or better -- 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 six meets ... with its win earlier this year 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.

Falcons At A Glance: SPU enters Friday's meet looking to stem the tide of a six-match losing streak that has seen their record fall to 1-15. The Falcons, 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.

UW-SPU Series: Washington has long controlled the series against SPU, defeating its cross-town rival 63 times in 66 total meetings, including a 195.800-190.050 win in Seattle last month, and a 193.625-189.750 meeeting at Oregon State's Salbasgeon Suites Invitational last weekend. 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 seven-straight vs. SPU.

Did You Know? : This year marks the second-straight season, but just the third since 1993, that Washington and Seattle Pacific have met three times in the same year. The Huskies swept all three meetings between the two in 2006, including two at Bank of America Arena, and one at Oregon State. Friday will mark UW's first visit to Brougham Pavilion since a 192.875-191.475 SPU victory in 2004.

Rankings Report: The GymDawgs remained in the top-30 of the GymInfo Collegiate Rankings for the third-straight week, coming in 30th with a regional qualfying score (RQS) of 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. Florida and Georgia continued to swap No. 1 rankings -- just a week after the Bulldogs slipped past the Gators for the nation's top spot, Florida took it back with a 197.242 RQS, just ahead of Georgia's 197.130.

To Be The Best, Beat The Best: Washington received no favors from the schedule-makers in 2007. Eight of the Huskies' 13 regular-season opponents are ranked in this week's GymInfo Top-25, including No. 4 Stanford, No. 5 Utah, No. 8 UCLA, No. 9 Oregon State, No. 14 Arizona and No. 22 Minnesota. In fact, eight of UW's nine losses this season have come to top-25 teams -- including five top-10 opponents -- while their ninth loss was to No. 27 Arizona State. 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: After a pair of early 'season-ending' knee injuries to junior Raimey Iselin and freshman Bonita Lee, Washington has remained relatively free of serious injury throughout the 2007 campaign. The term 'season-ending' is in quotes in the previous sentence because Iselin, expected to miss the rest of 2007 with a torn meniscus, has been strong in her rehabilitation effort, and coaches are hopeful that the junior may be able to contribute on bars only as early as this weekend. Another Husky moving along in her recovery is senior Chelsea Bakken, who has recently begun performing on beam as well as bars, after being limited to just the latter during a three-meet streak in February.

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 seven times in her collegiate career, out of 21 total competitions. Houghting currently ranks sixth in the nation on vault with an RQS of 9.910, and is the nation's 21st-ranked gymnast on floor at 9.875

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 -- who enrolled at Washington in 2004 at the age of 16 after graduating early from Academy Northwest -- 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 six-straight scores over 9.825 on bars, and showing off a newly-added vault routine with six-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 9.840 (8th Pac-10, 42nd NCAA) 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 six weeks, and has scored below a 47.675 just once in that six-meet span. 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 five 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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