UCLA Gymnasts Seek NCAA Championships Berth At Southeast Regionals
April 6, 2007
UCLA At NCAA Southeast Regionals - Fresh off a Pac-10 Championships victory, the eighth-ranked UCLA Bruins (15-6) will travel cross-country to Morgantown, WV for the NCAA Southeast Regionals. The meet will take place on Saturday, Apr. 14 at the WVU Coliseum at 6 pm ET. The other five teams competing at the Regional meet are fifth-ranked LSU (13-9), 17th-ranked Auburn (6-13), 22nd-ranked North Carolina State (20-12), 24th-ranked West Virginia (28-9) and North Carolina (21-8). The top two teams at each of the six regional meets around the nation will advance to the NCAA Championships, which will be held Apr. 26-28 in Salt Lake City, UT.
Rotation Order - The Bruins will compete in Olympic order, starting on vault and ending on floor exercise. The rotation order was determined by blind draw by the NCAA.
Live Coverage - Live scoring will be available at msnsports.net.
Regional Championship History - The Bruins have won 16 regional titles, including seven in the last eight years, but last year's Regional meet was disastrous for the Bruins, who placed third behind Florida and host Arkansas after counting a fall on both bars and beam. It was the first time UCLA had failed to qualify for the NCAA Championships in 15 years. A Bruin gymnast has won the all-around title at their regional in each of the last eight years, most recently Kate Richardson in 2006.
In The Rankings - UCLA finished the regular season tied for No. 8 in the national rankings with a Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) of 196.600. The Bruins rank third on vault (49.370), fifth on uneven bars (49.285) and eighth on balance beam (49.130) and floor exercise (49.200). Junior Tasha Schwikert is the only gymnast in the nation to be ranked in the Top 15 on every event and the all-around. Schwikert is third in the all-around (39.525), vault (9.945) and beam (9.920), ninth on floor (9.910) and 11th on bars (9.900). Freshman Anna Li is tied for 18th in the all-around (39.375) and 11th on uneven bars (9.900). Junior Jordan Schwikert moved into the Top 25 on vault, tying for 25th (9.880).
Three Of Top Five All-Arounders To Battle - Three of the nation's top five all-around performers will be battling it out for top honors at the Regionals. LSU's Ashleigh Clare-Kearney is tied for No. 1 with Georgia's Katie Heenan with a RQS of 39.555. Clare-Kearney, who is also ranked No. 1 on vault, has the nation's highest all-around total of the season, a 39.775. UCLA's Tasha Schwikert is ranked third in the nation with a RQS of 39.525 and has posted the No. 2 and 3 top all-around marks, having scored 39.75 on Mar. 31 and 39.7 on Jan. 21. Auburn's Julie Dwyer ranks fifth nationally with a RQS of 39.485. Her season-high is 39.65.
Cross Country Trip - This will be UCLA Gymnastics' first-ever trip to West Virginia but not the first time UCLA has been sent three time zones away for the NCAA Regionals. In 2004, the top-ranked Bruins were sent to Raleigh, NC to compete in the NCAA Southeast Regionals. UCLA had to count a fall on bars in its final rotation but still won the meet by nearly a point, scoring 197.325. The Bruins were sent two time zones away in 2006 to Arkansas and placed third. In 2003, they were sent to Missouri and won that meet by nearly two points.
Bruins Win 13th Pac-10 Title - Number 13 was anything but unlucky for the Bruins, who captured their 13th Pac-10 title on March 31. UCLA recorded a season-high 197.2 to win the title over 2006 champion Stanford, which scored 196.95 to place second. The Bruins had a slim .15 lead over the Cardinal heading into the final rotation, with Stanford on vault and UCLA on the dreaded beam. Stanford put the heat on UCLA with a 49.325, which gave the Bruins little room for error. Ariana Berlin led off with strong routine that merited 9.825. Ashley Peckett followed with a super-steady 9.85. Ashley Jenkins fell on her side somi, putting the pressure on the rest of the beam competitors. Jordan Schwikert seemed unfazed, nailing her routine for a 9.85. Li followed that up with a career-high 9.95, leaving Tasha Schwikert needing just a 9.725 to clinch the win. The junior showed why she was voted the Pac-10 Gymnast of the Year, closing it out with a 9.95 to claim the victory. As a team, the Bruins scored a season-best 49.425 on the event.
Tasha Schwikert won the all-around with a season-high 39.75 and also claimed victory on vault (shared with Washington's Ashley Houghting), beam (shared with teammate Anna Li) and floor. In addition to sharing the beam title with Schwikert, Li tied for third in the all-around with a 39.4.
Schwikert Honored As Pac-10 Gymnast Of The Year - After a dominating performance at the Pac-10 Championships, junior Tasha Schwikert was named the Pac-10 Gymnast of the Year. UCLA has produced 11 consecutive Gymnasts of the Year, as Schwikert joins Kate Richardson (2006), Kristen Maloney (2005), Jeanette Antolin (2004), Onnie Willis (2003), Jamie Dantzscher (2002), Mohini Bhardwaj (2001), Heidi Moneymaker (2000), Kiralee Hayashi (1999), Stella Umeh (1998) and Leah Homma (1997) as Bruin honorees in the last 10 years. In all, Bruins have won this award 16 times in 21 years.
Four Bruins Named To All-Conference Team - UCLA gymnasts Anna Li, Jordan Schwikert, Tasha Schwikert and Michelle Selesky have been named to the Pac-10 All-Conference team. Tasha Schwikert and Li received honors in the all-around, while Selesky and Jordan Schwikert were named on the vault and uneven bars, respectively. The All-Conference teams consist of the top six all-around competitors, plus the top three competitors in each individual event not amongst the all-around selections. A gymnast's score is determined by a combination of 50 percent regional qualifying score (entire season composite) and 50 percent Pac-10 Conference Championship score.
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.
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. Tasha Schwikert, who did not compete on floor for two months due to an Achilles strain, made a hugely successful all-around return at the Pac-10 Championships on Mar. 31, winning the all-around with a season-high 39.75 and scoring a season-high 9.95 on floor to take top honors on that event as well. On Mar. 25, Janelle Dantzscher returned from a nearly two-month absence for a stress fracture in her foot, competing on floor exercise at Stanford. Ashley Jenkins' hyper-extended elbow is healing, and she may be available soon on uneven bars. In addition, the Bruins are bolstered by the return of Melissa Chan, who was reinstated to the team on Mar. 12. In her first action of the season, Chan looked strong while scoring a 9.65 on an exhibition balance beam routine at Stanford despite doing just a single tuck dismount.
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.
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. 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 discovered in February, and she had successful surgery in March. 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 92 of her 96 career routines (96%) without a fall ... Averages 39.275 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 five of six 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 9.754, 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 9.819 on bars ... Has recorded six 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 9.775 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 that scored 9.65 (lower start value, 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 - Scored 9.8+ on balance beam five times in her last seven efforts since 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 over 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 11th on uneven bars ... Has seven individual victories on the year, including four on bars, a pair of all-around wins and the Pac-10 title on beam ... 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 three of the last four meets and averages 9.8 on the event ... Leads the team with a 9.875 average on bars ... Scored a career-high 9.95 on beam to win a share of the Pac-10 beam title and secure third place in the all-around with a 39.45 ... Clinched the victory over previously unbeaten Georgia with a career-high 9.9 on floor exercise in the final rotation ... Averages 9.815 on floor, second-best on the team ... Ranks second on the team in individual victories (seven) and Top 3 placings (26) ... Was the only freshman in the conference selected to the All-Pac-10 team in the all-around.
Brittani McCullough - 2006 U.S. National Team member is redshirting the season after a November car accident in which she severed a tendon in her toe.
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 seven 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 103 of her last 105 (98%) routines without a fall, including 44 of 45 this season ... Strong all-around performer in UCLA's last six 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 ... Earned a season-high 9.85 on beam in the final rotation to help the Bruins reclaim the Pac-10 title ... Upgraded her tumbling on floor the last two meets and is now doing a full-in for her first tumbling pass ... Averages 39.108 in the all-around ... Third on the team with a 9.812 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 39.155 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 9.856 vault average and has scored 9.85 or higher in her last six meets, with three 9.9 scores ... Currently ranked 25th in the nation on vault ... Earned All-Pac-10 honors on the uneven bars ... Has scored 9.825 or better on her last five beam routines ... With the meet on the line and a fall already in the books from a Bruin competitor, she scored a 9.85 on beam at the Pac-10 Championships to help UCLA win the title ... Limited to just uneven bars in the Bruins' first five meets due to a hamstring injury.
Tasha Schwikert - Pac-10 Gymnast of the Year ... Pac-10 all-around champion after scoring a season-high 39.75 in her first all-around competition in two months ... Has five-straight all-around victories ... Also won the Pac-10 vault, beam and floor titles and tied a Pac-10 record for most titles in a season with four ... Her 9.95 on beam in the last rotation clinched the win for the Bruins ... The only gymnast in the nation ranked in the Top 15 in the all-around and all four events ... Ranks 3rd in the all-around, vault and balance beam, ninth on floor exercise and 11th on uneven bars ... Has hit 44 of 45 routines on the season and 43 in a row ... Has placed first on an event on 60% of her routines (27 individual event victories out of 45 routines) ... Thirty of her 45 scores (67%) have been 9.9 or higher, including 27 of her last 34 routines ... Leads the team with season averages of 39.446 in the all-around, 9.906 on vault, 9.907 on floor and 9.856 on beam ... Also averages 9.840 on bars ... Leads the team with 32 individual victories and 42 Top 3 placings ... Has won the all-around five consecutive times she has competed, averaging 39.630 in those five meets ... Posted a 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 six meets (Feb. 10-Mar. 25) to rest a strained Achilles ... Selected to the All-Pac-10 team in the all-around ... 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 - Earned All-Pac-10 honors on vault ... 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 ... Tied for third on vault at the Pac-10 Championships, scoring a career-high-tying 9.925 ... 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 seven meets, posting two wins ... Averages 9.785 on vault, including 9.88 in her last four meets ... Season average on floor is 9.706 ... Second-team Pac-10 All-Academic honoree with a 3.73 GPA in Political Science.