UCLA Gymnasts Begin Post-Season At Pac-10 Championships
March 28, 2007
UCLA At Pac-10 Championships - The eighth-ranked UCLA Bruins (9-6) will kick off post-season competition on Saturday, Mar. 31 at the Pac-10 Conference Championships. The Championships will take place at Wells Fargo Arena on the campus of Arizona State at 5:00 pm MT. The Bruins have won a Pac-10 best 12 titles overall, including three in the last five years.
Rotation Order - The Bruins will start the championships on a bye before floor and will begin competition in the second rotation on floor exercise. From there, they will have another bye, then move to vault, a bye, bars and then will end on beam in the seventh and final rotation. The rotation order for the championships was determined by blind draw a year prior to the meet.
On Air - Fox Sports Net will televise the Championships on a delayed basis the following week, with the first local viewing on Apr. 6 at 2:30 pm on Fox Sports Prime Ticket. Jim Watson and Olympic gold medalist Amanda Borden will call the action.
Pac-10 Championship History - With 12 Pac-10 titles (1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005), UCLA has won the most conference championships. Oregon State (1991, 1992, 1994, 1996) and Stanford (1998, 2001, 2004, 2006) are the only other teams to win Pac-10 titles. Bruins have dominated in the individual championships as well, with a conference-best 62 individual championships. The Bruins have been especially dominant in the all-around, winning 15 titles, including nine in the last 10 years (includes ties). UCLA gymnasts have won 15 titles on bars, 13 on floor, 10 on vault and nine on beam.
Last Year At Pac-10s - The Bruins scored a season-high 196.8 but fell three-tenths of a point short of defending their Pac-10 title, placing second to Stanford, which scored 197.1. For the first time since 1991 and only the second time in the history of the Pac-10 Championships, no Bruin won an individual event. Stanford's Tabitha Yim won the all-around and beam. Oregon State's Tasha Smith captured the vault and floor titles. Liz Tricase of Stanford won bars. All three returning champions will be back to defend their titles.
Schwikert Looks To Regain Her Pac-10 Titles - UCLA junior Tasha Schwikert will be looking to reclaim her 2005 uneven bars title and possibly her 2005 all-around title. As a freshman, she tied for the all-around with teammate Kristen Maloney and won the bars with a perfect 10. Last season, she did not compete on uneven bars after undergoing shoulder surgery, so she was unable to defend her titles. Schwikert's all-around status for this week is uncertain. She has not competed on floor exercise the last six meets due to an Achilles strain.
Conference Awards To Be Handed Out - Conference awards for Gymnast of the Year, Newcomer of the Year and Coach of the Year will be handed out at the conclusion of the meet. Last season, UCLA's Kate Richardson earned Gymnast of the Year honors, giving the Bruins 10 consecutive Gymnast of the Year awards (Kristen Maloney in 2005, Jeanette Antolin in 2004, Onnie Willis in 2003, Jamie Dantzscher in 2002, Mohini Bhardwaj in 2001, Heidi Moneymaker in 2000, Kiralee Hayashi in 1999, Stella Umeh in 1998 and Leah Homma in 1997). In all, Bruins have won this award 15 times in 20 years. Head coach Valorie Kondos Field has won Pac-10 Coach of the Year three times (1995, 2000, 2003). UCLA has produced four conference Freshmen of the Year - Ariana Berlin in 2006 (shared with Jami Lanz of Oregon State), Tasha Schwikert in 2005, Kate Richardson in 2003 and Doni Thompson in 2000.
In The Rankings - UCLA maintains its No. 8 national ranking, holding a Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) of 196.420. The Bruins rank third on vault (49.350), fifth on uneven bars (49.250), seventh on floor exercise (49.200) and eighth on balance beam (49.070). Junior Tasha Schwikert is the only gymnast in the nation to be ranked in the Top 20 on every event and the all-around. Schwikert is 17th in the all-around (39.335), third on vault (9.935) and beam (9.910), 10th on bars (9.900) and 16th on floor exercise (9.890). Freshman Anna Li is tied for 18th in the all-around (39.325) and ranks eighth on uneven bars (9.900).
Three of the seven Pac-10 teams are ranked in the Top 10 - No. 5 Stanford, No. 8 UCLA and No. 9 Oregon State. Two others are ranked in the Top 25 - No. 15 Arizona and No. 25 Arizona State. Six Pac-10 gymnasts are in the Top 25 in the all-around - No. 10 Jami Lanz of Oregon State, No. 13 Carly Janiga of Stanford, No. 17 Schwikert, No. 18 Li, No. 21 Karin Wurm of Arizona and No. 23 Nicole Harris of Arizona State.
Last Time Out - UCLA closed the regular season with a 196.250-196.825 loss at Stanford on Mar. 25. The two teams were tied at the halfway mark, but strong performances by Stanford on beam and floor pushed them ahead in the final two rotations. Tasha Schwikert won two events, capturing first on vault (9.925) and beam (9.95). Ariana Berlin was UCLA's top all-around competitor, scoring 39.225 to place third.
Bruins Getting Stronger - Injuries have prevented the Bruins from fielding their top lineups throughout the season, but the lineups are starting to come together as gymnasts become healthier. This past weekend, Janelle Dantzscher returned from a nearly two-month absence for a stress fracture in her foot, competing on floor exercise. Ashley Jenkins' hyper-extended elbow is healing, and she may be available soon on uneven bars. Jenkins was limited to just balance beam on Sunday due to illness. Tasha Schwikert could also return to floor soon. In addition, the Bruins are bolstered by the return of Melissa Chan, who was recently reinstated to the team. In her first action of the season, Chan looked strong while scoring a 9.65 on a slightly-watered down balance beam exhibition routine at Stanford.
Upping The Difficulty - Several Bruins showed upgraded routines at Stanford last weekend. Tasha Schwikert competed a double layout dismount off uneven bars. Ashley Peckett mounted with a full-in on floor exercise, the first time in over four years she has competed that skill. Janelle Dantzscher upgraded her tumbling on floor, adding a double tuck mount and switching her whip half/front full/front tuck pass to her middle pass.
UCLA Upsets Georgia, Snaps 27-Meet Unbeaten Streak - Behind a season-high team score of 197.15, UCLA upset second-ranked and two-time defending champion Georgia on Mar. 4 in the Bruins' home finale. With Georgia posting a final team mark of 197.00, UCLA needed a 9.775 from freshman Anna Li on floor exercise to win the meet, and she came through with a career-high 9.9 to give UCLA the win by .15. It was a total team effort, with all eight Bruin competitors making big contributions. Jordan Schwikert placed second in the all-around with a season-high 39.45. Ariana Berlin recorded yet another career-high in the all-around with a 39.425. Li placed third in the all-around with a 39.4, and Ashley Peckett was fourth with a season-best 39.35. Ashley Jenkins contributed a career-high 9.9 on beam to tie for second. UCLA seniors Peckett and Michelle Selesky went out in style, with each winning an event title (Peckett tied for first on floor with a season-high 9.925, and Selesky won vault with a career-high 9.925). UCLA's victory snapped Georgia's 27-meet, 57-opponent unbeaten streak. The Gym Dogs had not lost a meet since placing second at the 2005 NCAA Regionals.
Setting The Bar - UCLA recorded a national season-best 49.7 on uneven bars on Feb. 25, en route to a 196.25 team score that enabled the Bruins to handily win the John Wooden Challenge over Denver, California and Cal State Fullerton. The Bruins counted no score lower than 9.9 on bars, with Ashley Peckett recording a season-high 9.9, Tasha Schwikert and Anna Li posting 9.925s, and Ariana Berlin and Jordan Schwikert earning career-high 9.975s. The 49.7 tied for the fourth-highest bars score in UCLA history.
Six Bruins Earn Pac-10 All-Academic Honors - Half of UCLA's team earned Pac-10 All-Academic honors in 2007. Senior Ashley Peckett led the way with a first-team honor after posting a 3.75 cumulative GPA in Physiological Science. It is Peckett's third career Pac-10 All-Academic honor; she was a second-team honoree last season and an honorable mention selection as a sophomore. Senior Michelle Selesky received second-team acclaim for her first career honor. She has recorded a 3.73 cumulative GPA in Political Science. Receiving honorable mention acclaim were sophomores Ariana Berlin, Kristina Comforte and Janelle Dantzscher and junior Tasha Schwikert. To be eligible for selection to the academic team, a student-athlete must be a sophomore or above, have a minimum 3.0 overall grade-point average and be either a starter or significant contributor.
Schwikert On Schwikert - Junior gymnast and aspiring sports broadcaster Tasha Schwikert provided color commentary on the delayed television broadcasts of the Bruins' quad meet against Denver, California and Cal State Fullerton and UCLA's dual meet victory over Georgia. After the meets, Schwikert joined Randy Rosenbloom in the studio to tape a TV broadcast that has aired on local Time Warner Cable station LA36 and on the LA36 website at www.la36.org. The UCLA-Georgia meet will premiere on LA36 on Friday, Mar. 30 at 1:00 pm PT and will reair at 7:00 pm. Schwikert has previous experience as a color commentator with WCSN for the 2005 and 2006 World Gymnastics Championships.
Comforte, McCullough Out For Season - Sophomore Kristina Comforte's long-time battle with ankle injuries has forced her out of competition for the year. An old fracture in her left ankle that has been causing her pain for the last four years was recently discovered, and she will sit out the rest of the year to heal. Comforte competed through the injury all of 2006 and earned first-team All-America honors in the all-around and on vault. She competed in six meets on balance beam this year, averaging 9.767, with a high of 9.825. Freshman Brittani McCullough, a 2006 U.S. National Team member, severed a tendon in her toe in a car accident in November and will redshirt the season.
High-Level Recruiting Class To Join UCLA In 2008 - Head coach Valorie Kondos Field signed another strong recruiting class during the early signing period, inking 2006 World Championships competitor and 2004 Olympic alternate Marci Bernholtz from Unionville, Ontario, Canada (ASF Gymnastics); international elite and 2003 U.S. Championships competitor Allison Taylor from Dallas, Texas (WOGA); and three-time Level 10 National qualifier Mizuki Sato from Fair Oaks, Calif. (Technique Gymnastics).
'We are looking forward to the addition of Marci, Allison and Mizuki to an already nationally competitive squad,' said UCLA head coach Valorie Kondos Field. 'They will round out the depth on every event for us in the future and will certainly enable us to continue our yearly challenge for the national title.'
Ariana Berlin - One of UCLA's most consistent athletes and a valuable leadoff competitor on three of four events ... Has hit 88 of her 92 career routines (96%) without a fall ... Averages 39.295 in the all-around, second-best on the squad, with a career-high of 39.425 achieved in the dual meet win over Georgia Mar. 4 ... Has placed in the Top 3 in all five all-around attempts, with a first-place showing at the John Wooden Challenge on Feb. 25, a pair of second-place finishes and a pair of third-place finishes ... Made her all-around season debut on feb. 10 and recorded career-high marks in four consecutive showings, starting with a 39.25 on Feb. 10 and Feb. 16, a 39.325 on Feb. 25 and 39.425 on Mar. 4 ... Strong leadoff vault scores have helped the Bruins move up to third nationally on the event, and she averages 9.75 with a season and career-high of 9.875 ... Earned her first-ever 9.9+ score on Feb. 25, shattering her career-high with a near-perfect 9.975 on uneven bars ... Averages 9.821 on bars ... Has recorded five leadoff scores of 9.8 or higher on beam, with a season and career-high of 9.875 to take first place at Denver on Feb. 10 ... Averages 9.780 on floor exercise since joining the lineup on Feb. 10 ... Did not compete on floor in the first month of the season and is still limited in training because of pain caused by the rod in her leg from her car accident six years ago ... Earned honorable mention Pac-10 All-Academic honors.
Melissa Chan - Made her 2007 debut on Mar. 25 with an exhibition performance on balance beam ... Scored 9.65 on a routine valued at just 9.8 (dismounted with just a single tuck) ... Rejoined the UCLA gymnastics team on Mar. 12 after meeting criteria set by the coaching staff for reinstatement to the team ... Was one of the Bruins' top balance beam performers as a freshman, tying for second place at the 2006 Pac-10 Championships with a career-best 9.95 ... Scored 9.8 or better on the event in seven of her eight meets and led the team with a 9.844 season average on beam ... Competed in the all-around five times, with a season-best 39.375 that gave her a first-place finish against Oregon State on Jan. 22, 2006 ... Prior to UCLA, she was a three-time Level 10 national all-around and vault champion and the 2000 U.S. Junior National vault champion.
Janelle Dantzscher - Was hitting her stride in January when a stress fracture in her foot kept her sidelined for nearly two months ... Averaged 9.84 on floor and 9.66 on beam in five meets from Jan. 12-26 ... Placed in the Top 3 on floor four times and scored a career-high 9.9 vs. Stanford on Jan. 15 ... Recorded a season-best beam score of 9.725 at Arizona State on Jan. 26, which was her last meet before the injury ... Returned to competition on floor exercise on Mar. 25 ... Earned honorable mention Pac-10 All-Academic honors.
Ashley Jenkins - Averaging 9.817 on balance beam in her last six meets after reworking her routine to keep weight off a hyper-extended elbow ... Since the injury, she has scored a 9.825, three 9.8s, a 9.775 and a career-high 9.9 to place second against Georgia ... Returned to the floor exercise mat on Feb. 25 with another reworked routine and scored 9.55 and improved to a 9.775 on Mar. 4 and 9.825 on Mar. 9 ... Averages 9.706 on floor, with a high of 9.875 set Jan. 15 ... Elbow injury has kept her out of the uneven bars lineup for two months ... Averages 9.75 on bars, with a high of 9.825 set Jan. 19 ... Has two Top 3 showings on both bars and beam.
Anna Li - Has competed on every event in every meet ... Ranked 18th nationally in the all-around and eighth on uneven bars ... Has six individual victories on the year, including four on bars and a pair of all-around wins ... In her collegiate debut Jan. 6 against Washington, she won the all-around with a 39.0 and placed first on bars with a 9.85. Her victory was extra special for her thanks to the presence of her parents, Yuejiu Li and Jiani Wu, who had won Olympic team medals for China in the same arena at the 1984 Olympic Games ... Also claimed first place in the all-around with a 39.5 and on bars with a 9.925 at Alabama Mar. 9 ... Against Arizona on Jan. 21, she posted a career-best 39.55 to place second in the all-around, won the uneven bars with a career-high 9.95 and also earned a career-high 9.9 on beam ... Has scored 9.85 on vault in the last three meets and averages 9.802 on the event ... Leads the team with a 9.875 average on bars ... Clinched the victory over previously unbeaten Georgia with a career-high 9.9 on floor exercise in the final rotation ... Averages 9.813 on floor, second-best on the team ... Ranks second on the team in individual victories (six) and Top 3 placings (24).
Natalie Padilla - Has provided much-needed depth to an injury-riddled squad ... Stepped in unexpectedly for an injured Ariana Berlin on floor and beam at Alabama Mar. 9 and recorded a season-best 9.625 on floor ... Earned a career-high 9.725 on beam and scored a 9.6 on bars and 9.325 on floor in her first competitive routines of the season on those events at Denver on Feb. 10 ... Recorded a season-high on uneven bars on Feb. 25, earning a 9.75 to help the Bruins along to a national season-best 49.7 on the event ... Has competed on bars in the last six meets ... Competed on vault in four of the first five meets, with a high of 9.8 set on Jan. 19 at Cal State Fullerton.
Ashley Peckett - Has hit 99 of her last 101 (98%) routines without a fall, including 40 of 41 this season ... Strong all-around performer in UCLA's last five meets ... Prior to this season, she had only competed in the all-around four other times in her collegiate career and had only competed on beam nine times in three years ... With UCLA short-handed on beam in mid-February, she began training beam again and hit a 9.775 in her first routine on Feb. 16 at Oregon State ... In that meet at Oregon State, she scored 39.25 in the all-around to tie for second place and also tied for second on vault with a season-high tying 9.9 ... On Feb. 25, she recorded a season-high 9.9 on uneven bars to help the Bruins record a national season-best 49.7 on the event ... Scored a season-best 39.35 in the all-around and tied for first on floor with a season-high 9.925 to help the Bruins defeat Georgia on Mar. 4 ... Posted a season-best 9.8 on beam at Alabama and finished fifth overall with a 39.25 all-around mark ... Averages 39.075 in the all-around ... Third on the team with a 9.810 vault average ... Received her third career Pac-10 All-Academic honor, earning first-team honors with a 3.75 GPA in Physiological Science.
Jordan Schwikert - Averaging 39.1 in all-around action since making her all-around season debut on Feb. 25 ... Recorded a season-high 39.45 on Mar. 4 against Georgia to place second in the all-around and also tied for second on vault and third on floor with season-highs of 9.9 on both events ... Earned Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week honors after her performance in the Georgia meet ... Placed third at the John Wooden Challenge on Feb. 25 with a 39.2 in the all-around and scored a career-high 9.975 on uneven bars to tie for first ... Ranks second on the team with a 9.854 vault average and has scored 9.9 in three of the last four meets ... Has scored 9.825 or better on her last four beam routines ... Limited to just uneven bars in the Bruins' first five meets due to a hamstring injury.
Tasha Schwikert - The only gymnast in the nation ranked in the Top 20 in the all-around and all four events ... Ranks 17th in the all-around, third on vault and balance beam, 10th on uneven bars and 16th on floor exercise ... Has hit 40 of 41 routines on the season and 39 in a row ... Has placed first on an event on 59% of her routines (24 individual event victories out of 41 routines) ... Twenty-six of her 41 scores (63%) have been 9.9 or higher, including 23 of her last 30 routines ... Leads the team with season averages of 39.396 in the all-around, 9.902 on vault, 9.9 on floor and 9.848 on beam ... Also averages 9.832 on bars ... Leads the team with 28 individual victories and 38 Top 3 placings ... Won four consecutive all-around titles from Jan. 15-26, averaging 39.588 in those four meets ... Posted a season-high 39.7 on Jan. 21 to win the all-around against Arizona and also placed first on vault with a 9.9 and beam and floor with a pair of 9.95s ... Those victories came just two days after scoring 39.675 and sweeping all four events and the all-around at Cal State Fullerton ... Scored a near-perfect 9.975 on vault at Fullerton ... Sat out floor exercise the last six meets to rest a strained Achilles ... Received Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week honors the first two weeks of the season ... Earned honorable mention Pac-10 All-Academic honors.
Michelle Selesky - Has competed on vault and floor in every meet in her first full season of competition ... Former Level 9 walk-on had only seen competition time just five times prior to this season but has worked her way into becoming a top contributor on vault and floor ... In the season opener Jan. 6 against Washington, she won the floor exercise with a 9.9 and tied for third on vault with a 9.825 to make the medals stand for the first time in her career ... Both scores were, at the time, two-tenths higher than her previous career-bests ... Continued her success the following week, twice scoring 9.825s on vault and earning a 9.825 on floor at Utah on Jan. 12 to tie for fourth ... Improved her personal-best on vault at Cal State Fullerton on Jan. 19, scoring a 9.85 to tie for third place and improved it again against Arizona two days later, scoring a 9.9 to earn her first vault victory ... On Senior Day against Georgia on Mar. 4, Selesky had a story-book ending, winning the vault with a career-high 9.925 ... Has placed in the Top 3 on vault in six meets, posting two wins ... Averages 9.773 on vault, including 9.867 in her last three meets ... Season average on floor is 9.7 ... Second-team Pac-10 All-Academic honoree with a 3.73 GPA in Political Science.