UCLA Gymnastics Team Suffers First Loss Of Season
Feb. 24, 2008
Los Angeles, Calif. - In a meet marred by injury, ninth-ranked UCLA tasted defeat for the first time this season, losing to unbeaten and second-ranked Utah, 197.450-195.825, on Sunday afternoon in Pauley Pavilion. Tasha Schwikert was the Bruins' top competitor, placing third in the all-around with a season-high tying 39.55.
The Bruins regained two competitors who had been previously injured (Kristina Comforte and Shavahn Church) but also lost two gymnasts to injuries during floor exercise. Redshirt freshman Brittani McCullough had to scratch from the event after suffering a mild concussion after a fall during the three-minute warm-up, and junior Anna Li, ranked No. 2 in the nation in the all-around, re-aggravated foot and ankle injuries after landing short on her double layout opening pass and did not finish her routine. Both gymnasts will be re-evaluated during the week.
UCLA had a slight lead after the first rotation, scoring 49.275 on vault to Utah's 49.200 on uneven bars. Tasha Schwikert led the way for the Bruins with a 9.9, and McCullough and Jordan Schwikert both scored 9.875. Ariana Berlin scored 9.825 on her leadoff routine. Li scored 9.8, and Natalie Padilla 9.775. Kristina Baskett led Utah with a first-place mark of 9.925 on bars.
On uneven bars, Berlin again earned 9.825 in the leadoff position. Church made her competitive debut as a Bruin and scored a 9.85 after performing a beautiful routine with a Maloney, inverts and a stuck double tuck dismount. Comforte returned to the lineup for the first time since injuring her knee on Jan. 27, scoring 9.825. Tasha Schwikert earned a 9.9, but Li clipped her foot on the bar while coming down from her release move and was only able to score 9.575. UCLA finished with a 49.25 on the event. Utah powered its way to a 49.4 to take over the lead by .075, thanks to a 9.95 from Ashley Postell, a 9.925 from Baskett and a 9.9 from Daria Bijak.
With the Utes ahead slightly, 98.6-98.525, UCLA moved to balance beam while Utah moved to floor exercise in rotation three. The Bruins struggled on beam, scoring just 48.425 after having to count a fall along with bobbles on several routines. UCLA's high scores were 9.8s from Berlin and Tasha Schwikert. Utah had four scores of 9.9 or better, including a 9.95 from Postell, to record a 49.55, increasing its lead to more than a full point.
UCLA's final rotation got off to a rough start even before it began, when McCullough landed on her head during the warm-up. She was scratched from the event and replaced by freshman Mizuki Sato, who filled in admirably with a 9.825. Berlin also totaled a 9.825, giving her a season-best all-around score of 39.275. Ashley Jenkins competed on floor for just the second time this season and scored 9.4 after a near fall on her last tumbling pass. Jordan Schwikert again came through with a nice score, earning a season-high 9.875 and an all-around total of 39.375 (another season-high). After Li's injury dampered spirits, Tasha Schwikert picked things up with a meet-closing floor routine that merited 9.95, which tied for first place.
Postell won the all-around for the eighth-straight time, scoring 39.725. She also won the vault (9.95) and balance beam (9.925) and tied for first on floor exercise with Tasha Schwikert (9.95) to bring her career event wins to 102.
The Bruins are back in action next Sunday, Mar. 2 against Oregon State in Pauley Pavilion at 2 pm.