UCLA Gymnastics To Host Pac-10 Rival Stanford In Home Opener Sunday

Jan. 23, 2008

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This Week -- Eighth-ranked UCLA (5-0) will host ninth-ranked Stanford (1-1) in Pauley Pavilion in the third annual John Wooden Challenge on Sunday, Jan. 27 at 2 pm. The meet is UCLA's home opener. Festivities kick off at approximately 1:50 pm with a pre-meet performance by the UCLA a capella group ScatterTones.

Tickets -- Tickets for the meet can be purchased in advance at the UCLA Central Ticket Office (310/UCLA-WIN or tickets.ucla.edu). Adult admission is $12 for lower level seating and $8 for mid-level seating. Youth prices are $10 for the lower-level seats and $6 for mid-level seating For the best value, season tickets in the lower level are available for just $35 for four meets.

As part of the John Wooden Challenge, Honoring Academic and Athletic Success, United Teachers Los Angeles members can receive two free mid-level general admission tickets by showing their UTLA membership card at Gate 1, and UCLA faculty and staff can receive four free mid-level general admission tickets with Bruin ID.

Meet Promotions -- The first 1,000 fans in attendance will receive a John Wooden Pyramid of Success giveaway. Meet program posters, featuring juniors Melissa Chan, Kristina Comforte and Ariana Berlin, will also be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. In addition, the 2008 gymnastics posters will be distributed during a post-meet autograph session with the Bruins.

Live Coverage -- A free video webcast will be available at UCLABruins.com. In addition, an audio-only link will be provided for those unable to view the webcast. Calling the action will be Darren Preston and 2000 U.S. Olympian Steve McCain, who won two NCAA titles (1993 high bar, 1994 vault) as a Bruin. Live scoring will also be provided for Sunday's meet. Please check the calendar tab at UCLABruins.com for the live scoring and broadcast links.

In The Rankings -- UCLA moved up to No. 8 in the national rankings, which are determined by average score. After scoring a 194.975 in the season opener, the Bruins improved upon their average with a 196.125 last Sunday at Fullerton. UCLA's season average now stands at 195.550. The Bruins rank No. 4 on vault (49.15) and beam (48.95), No. 9 on floor (48.85) and No. 14 on bars (48.6).

Individually, sophomore Anna Li remains ranked in the Top 20 in all events - No. 6 in the all-around (39.4), No. 9 on bars (9.875), No. 16 on floor (9.85), No. 18 on beam (9.825) and No. 20 on vault (9.85). Redshirt freshman Brittani McCullough ranks No. 14 in the all-around (39.262) and No. 9 on vault (9.887). Senior Tasha Schwikert makes her debut in the national rankings this week, checking in at No. 6 on vault (9.9) and No. 15 on bars (9.85). Entering the national rankings for the first time in their careers are freshman Marci Bernholtz on beam (No. 4, 9.875) and senior Natalie Padilla on floor (No. 16, 9.85).

About The Cardinal -- Stanford entered the season as the pre-season No. 5 and is currently No. 9 in the national rankings with an average of 195.375. The Cardinal lost to defending champion Georgia in the season opener, 196.875-196.15, and defeated Arizona last Sunday, 194.6-194.125. Stanford returns all 14 gymnasts from last year's team that finished fifth at the NCAA Championships, including six All-Americans in Tabitha Yim, Liz Tricase, Nicole Ourada, Kelly Fee, Carly Janiga and Blair Ryland. Returning after a medical redshirt year is 2004 U.S. Olympic alternate Allyse Ishino.

UCLA leads the overall series with Stanford, 38-9-1 (NCAA meets not included), but the competition has tightened in the last several years. The Cardinal won both dual meets a year ago, but UCLA claimed victory when it counted most, winning the Pac-10 title and placing ahead of Stanford at the NCAA Super Six.

UCLA Breaks 196 In Quad Meet Victory -- The Bruins hit 24-for-24 routines without a fall to score a season-best 196.125 in a quad meet victory at Cal State Fullerton on Sunday afternoon. Cal State Fullerton was second with a 191.025, Brown was third with a 183.025, and Wisconsin-Eau Claire placed fourth with a 176.525. Sophomore Anna Li won the all-around for the second-straight meet, scoring 39.35. Brittani McCullough was second with a 39.15, and Kristina Comforte placed third with a 39.0. McCullough and Tasha Schwikert tied for first on vault with a pair of 9.9s. Comforte was first on bars with a 9.9, and freshman Marci Bernholtz won the beam with a 9.875,

Front End Of Lineup Scores Big At Fullerton -- High scorers for the Bruins on three events at Fullerton came from gymnasts competing early in the lineup - Kristina Comforte on bars (No. 3 in the lineup) with a first-place mark of 9.9, Marci Bernholtz on beam (No. 2 in the lineup) with a meet-high 9.875, and Natalie Padilla on floor (No. 2 in the lineup) with a career-high 9.85 to place second overall. Other early competitors who placed in the Top 3 were freshman Mizuki Sato, who led off on floor and scored a career-high 9.825 to tie for third place, and Anna Li, the third competitor on vault who tied her season high with a third-place score of 9.85. In all, the first half of the lineup averaged 9.77 on the day.

Bernholtz Named Pac-10 Event Specialist Of The Week -- Freshman Marci Bernholtz was named the Pac-10 Event Specialist of the Week for Jan. 15-21 after placing first on the balance beam in the Bruins' quad meet victory at Cal State Fullerton. Bernholtz was the second Bruin to compete on the event and nailed her first-ever collegiate beam routine for a 9.875 to contribute to UCLA's season-high team total of 196.125. UCLA also set a season-best on beam with a 49.025. Bernholtz, a two-time World Championships competitor, is now ranked No. 4 in the nation on balance beam.

Freshmen Get In Mix -- The Bruin freshmen have quickly worked their way into the competition lineup. Niki Tom has competed in both meets on vault and beam with highs of 9.825 and 9.7, respectively. Allison Taylor has two meets on uneven bars under her belt and hit a season-best 9.675 last Sunday. Marci Bernholtz competed on bars in the opener and won the balance beam last week. Mizuki Sato has competed on floor in both meets and placed third last week with a 9.825. Sato also had one of the meet's top scores on balance beam, earning a 9.8 in an exhibition performance. Talia Kushynski also competed on floor exercise last week and scored 9.675. UCLA's sixth freshman, Shavahn Church, is out indefinitely after undergoing successful arthroscopic knee surgery in December.

Schwikert Shows No Rust In First Meet -- After sitting out the season opener while nursing an injury, senior Tasha Schwikert returned last weekend for her first competition of the season. The seven-time All-American showed no signs of rust, tying for first on vault with a 9.9, tying for second on bars with a 9.85 and tying for fourth on beam with a 9.775. Schwikert has hit 60 consecutive routines without a fall and has hit 95.2% of her career routines.

Looking Ahead -- The Bruins head to Seattle, WA for a dual meet against the Washington Huskies on Friday, Feb. 1 at 7 pm.

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