UCLA Gymnastics Team Wins at Arizona With 196.575

Feb. 22, 2008

The ninth-ranked UCLA gymnastics team kicked off a challenging weekend with a satisfying 196.575-196.050 victory over Arizona in Tucson Friday evening. It was a total team effort for the Bruins, who competed 12 of 15 team members with no all-arounders.

UCLA began the meet on the uneven bars and scored 49.375 to Arizona's 49.1 on vault. Ariana Berlin led off with a 9.825. The pressure was on for Jordan Schwikert after a fall from Allison Taylor, but Schwikert came through with a 9.85, and Brittani McCullough followed with a 9.825. Tasha Schwikert kept the high marks coming with a season-high tying 9.925, and Anna Li earned a first-place mark of 9.95 to give the Bruins an early lead.

The Bruins kept the momentum going on vault, scoring a season-high 49.425 to increase the lead to six-tenths, 98.8-98.2. UCLA was led by Tasha Schwikert, who posted a season-best and meet-high 9.95. Also scoring big were senior Natalie Padilla, who recorded a career-high 9.9, and McCullough, who tied her career-best with the same mark. The Bruins also received a season-best from Li with a 9.875, a 9.8 from Jordan Schwikert and a 9.75 from Berlin. Arizona, meanwhile, posted a 49.1 on uneven bars, led by a 9.9 from Karin Wurm, who won the all-around with a career-high 39.5.

UCLA entered the second half of competition with more than a few fresh faces in the lineup. On floor exercise in rotation three, only two of the six competitors (Padilla and freshman Mizuki Sato) had competed more than twice this season, and three (freshmen Taylor and Niki Tom and sophomore Ashley Jenkins) were competing on floor for the first time. These Bruins, however, made the most of their rare competition opportunity. Tom started things out with a 9.825. Padilla continued her hot streak, scoring a career-high tying 9.85. Sato earned a career-best 9.875 that wound up tying for second overall, and Melissa Chan, in only her third routine of the season, earned a season-high 9.85 to help bring the Bruins' event score to 48.750 and 147.550 after three rotations. Arizona had a few bobbles on the balance beam, scoring 48.625 for a three-event total of 146.825.

Armed with a 0.725 lead heading into the final rotation on balance beam, UCLA needed to just stay steady to keep its winning streak alive. Tom once again provided a strong leadoff routine, scoring 9.775. Fellow freshman Marci Bernholtz recorded a 9.825 on her only routine of the night. Jordan Schwikert kept it going with a 9.75, and McCullough posted a 9.8. Tasha Schwikert assured UCLA of the win with a season-high 9.875 that gave the Bruins five hit routines, and Jenkins wrapped up another 6-for-6 beam set with a 9.675. UCLA finished with a 49.025 on beam and a final team score of 196.575 that topped Arizona's 196.050.

'Because of our two meets this weekend, we had no choice but to mix up our lineup,' said UCLA head coach Valorie Kondos Field. 'We knew we would have to hit in order to win, and to be able to put up the roster we put up was exciting.'

'We have been talking to the team about the fact that they just have to work hard,' Kondos Field continued. 'The harder you work, the more confidence you have. Their hard work paid off, and they were able to get a great result on the road against a really good Pac-10 team.'

The Bruins improve to 12-0 on the year with a battle of the unbeatens on the horizon this Sunday against 8-0 Utah in Pauley Pavilion. The competition begins at 2 pm.

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