Bakken to Compete at Gym Nationals

April 24, 2007

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The Meet: Washington senior Chelsea Bakken will bring an outstanding 2007 UW gymnastics season to a fitting conclusion this week when she travels to Salt Lake City, Utah, for the 2007 NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships. Bakken, who will compete as an individual in the all-around competition, begins her quest for an All-America honor in Thursday's second session, from which the top-four finishers in each event will advance to the individual event finals Saturday. Live stats for all three days of competition, including the team qualifying and all-around competition Thursday, the Super Six team finals Friday and the individual event finals Saturday can be found at the official site of host Utah,

Rotation Schedule: For those interested in following Bakken's competition online, the Husky senior will rotate alongside the University of Denver in Thursday's second session of competition, in the following order:

Rotation 1 - Bye
Rotation 2 - Bars
Rotation 3 - Beam
Rotation 4 - Bye
Rotation 5 - Floor
Rotation 6 - Vault

NCAA Championships Format: The 2007 NCAA Gymnastics Championships are comprised of the top-two finishing teams from each of the six regionals nationwide on Apr. 14 (for a total of 12 teams) as well as the top-two regional all-around finishers and any regional event winners not on qualifying teams. Teams and individuals will compete side-by-side in two sessions of all-around competition Thursday, which serves as both qualifying for Friday's Super Six Team Finals, and Saturday's Individual Event Finals. As its name would suggest, the six highest-scoring teams from Thursday's all-around competition advance to Friday's Super Six, while the top-four finishers in each event from each of the two sessions Thursday (for a total of eight individuals per event) will advance to the individual event finals. All gymnasts to advance to the individual event finals are granted All-America status.

Bakken Makes History: When she springs onto the bars Thursday at the NCAA Gymnastics Championships, senior Chelsea Bakken will become just the fifth Husky since 2000 to compete in the all-around at the NCAA meet, and the first since Carly Dockendorf made the second of back-to-back appearances in 2004. Of note, however, is that the Huskies' two-year drought of NCAA appearances in 2005-06 marked just the third time in 26 years of NCAA competition that Washington had failed to qualify a UW gymnast for the NCAA Championship meet. Washington has sent 24 different gymnasts to the NCAA meet in its 26-year existence, who have brought home 19 All-America honors and two NCAA individual titles.

Huskies Quick Notes: First-year head coach Joanne Bowers became just the third UW coach -- and just the third first-year coach in Pac-10 history -- to earn Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors, sharing the award (announced at the Pac-10 Championships) with Stanford's Kristen Smyth ... Bowers was also named West Region Coach of the Year at the 2007 NCAA West Regional, making her the first UW coach ever so honored, and obviously, the first ever to sweep Pac-10 and West Region Coach of the Year awards ... Washington's team score of 195.800 versus OSU and SPU was its highest since the 2004 Pac-10 Championships ... seven of the Huskies' 15 gymnasts earned victories in 2007, something just three accomplished in all of last year ... sophomore Ashley Houghting won 17 times in 2007 and boasts 25 career wins, needing just two more to crack UW's all-time top-10 career victories list.

Did You Know?
Prior to qualifying for the NCAA Championships with an eighth-place finish in the all-around at the NCAA West Regional meet, senior Chelsea Bakken had not competed on vault since January after suffering a sprained ankle.

2007 Season Recap: Coming off a season in which it failed to qualify for the NCAA Regional meet for the first time in program history, and having lost both its head coach of 16 seasons and its top scorer, many fans were not sure what to expect of the Washington gymnastics program in 2007. First-year head coach Joanne Bowers and assistants Shanna Duggan and David McCreary, however, sparked significant improvement across the board for the GymDawgs, who in February earned their most lopsided Pac-10 win in more than three years, while finishing the season ranked 31st in the country and earning matching fifth-place finishes at the Pac-10 and NCAA Regional meets. Washington topped the 194-point mark six times in 2007 -- something it failed to do even once in 2006 -- and scored a season-high 195.800 in a tri-meet vs. Oregon State and SPU. In addition, seven different UW gymnasts earned event victories -- something just three accomplished in 2006 -- while sophomore Ashley Houghting shot into the nation's top-10 on vault with an RQS of 9.930 and eight vault wins, including a share of the 2007 Pac-10 vault title. Known only for vault in 2006, Houghting blossomed into an oustanding all-around contributor under the new coaches, earning wins on vault (8(), floor (5), beam (1) and in the all-around (3) to up her career victory total to 25, just two shy of UW's top-10 all-time. For their efforts, Bowers was named both Pac-10 and West Region Coach of the Year -- the first UW coach, and the first first-year coach, ever to earn both honors -- while Houghting earned All-Pac-10 first-team acclaim.

Postseason Honors: The honors have been rolling in for Washington's gymnastics team during the 2007 postseason. Head coach Joanne Bowers became just the third UW coach -- and just the third first-year coach in Pac-10 history -- ever to earn Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors (sharing the award with Stanford's Kristen Smyth), and was the first UW coach ever to earn West Region Coach of the Year honors as well. Sophomore Ashley Houghting, meanwhile, earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors, while seniors Tori Quandt and Darcee Schiller, juniors Nikki Waiss and Natalie Gillan, and sophomores Kristen Omori and Kelly Gilbert all received Academic All-Pac-10 honorable mention.

To Be The Best, Beat The Best: Washington received no favors from the schedule-makers in 2007. Sixteen of the Huskies' 25 opponents this year have been ranked in the GymInfo Top-25, including (current ranking) No. 7 Stanford, No. 7 Utah, No. 8 (tied) UCLA, No. 8 (tied) Oregon State, No. 15 Arizona, and No. 25 Minnesota. In fact, 16 of UW's 17 losses this season have come to top-25 teams -- including 11 to 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.

Guess Who's Bak?: Chelsea Bakken's dreams of a berth at the NCAA Championships appeared all but dead after the Husky senior -- who had never missed a meet in three-plus years -- sprained an ankle in January. The Arizona native sat out the Huskies' Feb. 9 meet against Arizona and competed on bars only for the next three weeks, before adding beam at Minnesota on Mar. 10, and floor at the Pac-10 Championship meet Mar. 31. Entering April's NCAA Regional, though, Bakken still had not vaulted in competition since Jan. 26, and admittedly wasn't sure what to expect. To the surprise of many, she nailed her vault with a season-best 9.750, and earned solid scores on each of the other three events to finish with a career-best-equaling 39.025 in the all-around, good for an eighth-place finish and her first NCAA Championships berth. While her injury may have planted doubts about her ability to advance to nationals, Bakken's early-season performances were strong indicators of the potential for postseason success. The senior team captain led a UW sweep of all four events and the all-around with an AA win over Utah State in January, the first all-around win of her UW career and her first-ever all-around score above 39.025. Bakken entered the 2007 campaign with wins under her belt on vault (2) and floor (1), and was the Huskies' top all-around competitor in 2006.

Winning Ways: After putting just three Huskies on the victory stand in all of 2006, Washington has boasted seven different event winners in 2007 -- including four multiple-time winners -- both the school's highest such totals 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, UB vs. OSU/SPU) and Raimey Iselin (UB vs. Utah St., UB at SPU), and senior Tori Quandt (BB vs. Cal). Sophomore Ashley Houghting has added 17 wins to up her career total to 25, while sophomore Kristen Omori (BB vs. Utah State, BB vs. SPU) 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 UW's go-to gymnast for a big score. Winner of 17 events in 2007 -- including a share of her first Pac-10 title, on vault -- Houghting has already crushed the UW career record for vault wins, and is closing in on UW's all-time top-10 victories list. Known before 2007 solely 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 five floor wins, one beam win and three all-around crowns to accompany her eight vault victories. Those eight vault wins, however, increased Houghting's career total in the event to 16, four 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 23 total competitions. That includes March's Pac-10 Championship meet, where Houghting won a share of her first Pac-10 title -- and the first by a Husky in any event since 2004 -- with a 9.950, and was seventh in the all-around. Ranked fifth nationally on vault with an RQS of 9.930, Houghting also has a chance to shine on floor, where her 9.975 at the UW's Mar. 23 meet at SPU equals the nation's highest floor score this year, and is the highest by a UW gymnast on any event since 2005.

Wonderful Waiss: After waiting more than three-plus 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 bars again in a three-way meet vs. Oregon State and SPU. 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 lit on fire in mid-February, posting six-straight scores over 9.825 on bars from Feb. 9-Mar. 16, and showing off a newly-added vault routine with seven-straight 9.75s or better, including a 9.85 at Arizona State. Waiss' bars win vs. OSU & SPU came on the strength of a career-best 9.925 score, helping raise her RQS to 9.840 (55th NCAA) by the end of the year.

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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