No. 9 UCLA Hosts No. 10 Oregon State Sunday

Feb. 27, 2008

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This Week -- The ninth-ranked UCLA gymnastics team (12-1) will host No. 10 Oregon State (8-1) on Sunday, Mar. 2 in a rematch of the season opening meet at the Lady Luck Invitational. UCLA placed first in that meet with a score of 194.975, while Oregon State suffered its only loss of the year with a second-place score of 193.875. Round two between the two Pac-10 teams will take place in Pauley Pavilion at 2 pm.

Live Coverage -- UCLA will provide a free live video and audio broadcast on UCLA All-Access, with Darren Preston and former U.S. Olympian and NCAA champion Steve McCain providing the call. Live stats will also be available at

Think Pink -- Sunday's meet is UCLA's Second Annual Breast Cancer Awareness meet. The Bruins will wear leotards with pink accents and pink ribbons to commemorate the event. All fans in attendance are encouraged to wear pink, and pink wristbands will be given away to all fans in attendance. Pink Crocs will also be given away to 30 lucky fans.

Tickets -- Tickets to all UCLA Gymnastics home events are $12 for adults/$10 for youth for lower level seats and $8 for adults/$6 for youth for mid-level seats. UCLA students are free with valid UCLA ID. Veterans and members of the armed forces can receive up to four complimentary mid-level admissions to this meet by showing valid military ID upon entry at Gate 1 of Pauley Pavilion.

In The Rankings -- UCLA improved its Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) to 195.945 but remained at No. 9 in the national rankings. The Bruins did, however, move up to second on uneven bars (49.245), fifth on vault (49.220) and 18th on floor (48.815) and remained fourth on beam (49.000).

Individually, sophomore Anna Li ranks fourth in the all-around (39.375), second on bars (9.915) and 12th on floor (9.865). Redshirt freshman Brittani McCullough ranks No. 19th in the all-around (38.990) and ninth on vault (9.890). Tasha Schwikert is fifth on bars (9.895) and eighth on vault (9.895).

RQS is compiled by taking the top six regular-season scores, a minimum of three coming in away meets, dropping the high and averaging the remaining five scores.

Bruins Off To Best Start In 19 Years -- Although UCLA picked up its first loss of the year on Sunday against Utah, the Bruins are still off to their best start in 19 years. The last UCLA team to start out 12-1 was the 1989 squad, who finished with an overall record of 23-1 and just missed out on the NCAA title by .05. This year's 12-0 start was the best by a UCLA team since the 1988 team went 17-0 in the regular season. The 2008, 1988 and 1987 teams are the only teams in UCLA history to win their first seven meets of the year.

About The Beavers -- Since losing the season opener to UCLA in Las Vegas, Oregon State has been unbeatable, winning six straight meets heading into this week. Before the Beavers face UCLA on Sunday, though, they have a Friday night meet at Cal State Fullerton. The Beavers scored a season-high 197.150 last Friday against BYU. In that meet, junior Tasha Smith scored her first career 10.0 on floor exercise.

The Beavers are coached by former UCLA All-American Tanya (Service) Chaplin and associate head coach Michael Chaplin, who was also a UCLA All-American and a member of UCLA's 1987 NCAA Championship team, along with UCLA assistant head coach Chris Waller. Top gymnasts for Oregon State include returning All-Americans Smith, Jami Lanz and Mandi Rodriguez. Lanz, who scored 39.6 last weekend, is the highest-ranked Beaver all-arounder at No. 21 (38.965). Rodriguez ranks ninth on floor (9.870) and 12th on vault (9.870), while Smith ranks 14th on vault (9.865).

UCLA holds a 37-15 regular season record against Oregon State. The Bruins have won six of the last seven meetings but lost the last dual meet a year ago in Corvallis.

Bruins Tacked With First Loss -- UCLA tasted defeat for the first time in 2008, losing to second-ranked Utah on Feb. 24, 197.450-195.825. The Bruins had the lead after one rotation and were less than one-tenth behind at the halfway mark but fell behind in rotation two after counting a fall on beam. Tasha Schwikert was the Bruins' top finisher with a season-high tying 39.55. She also tied her season-high on floor with a 9.95 to claim UCLA's only individual victory.

Comforte Returns On Bars -- Junior Kristina Comforte made her way back into the competition lineup on uneven bars last Sunday. The two-time All-American injured her right knee on Jan. 27 during her floor exercise routine, suffering a bone bruise that sidelined her for three meets before she returned to do an exhibition routine at Arizona, where she scored a 9.525 with just a simple flyaway dismount. In her first competitive routine since the injury, she went all-out, throwing her full difficulty and ending with a double layout dismount to score 9.825. She holds a career-high of 9.95 and a season-best of 9.9 on the event.

Church Makes Memorable Debut -- In her first ever competitive routine as a Bruin, freshman Shavahn Church earned a 9.85 on the uneven bars, placing fourth overall. Church, who missed the first half of the season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in late December, was a 2005 World Championships competitor for Great Britain and 2006 Commonwealth Games medalist. She was also a member of the U.S. Junior National Team in 2003.

Injury Update -- Brittani McCullough and Anna Li are listed as day-to-day after suffering concussions on Sunday.

Bars Team Hardly Uneven -- With the return of Kristina Comforte and the addition of Shavahn Church, the Bruins are loaded on uneven bars. The bars team of Ariana Berlin, Church, Jordan Schwikert, Comforte, Tasha Schwikert and Anna Li racked up a total of 49.25 to outscore Utah on the event last Sunday, even without counting the score of Li, who is ranked No. 2 in the nation on this event but had a mistake in her routine. Brittani McCullough, who is next in line for a spot in the bars lineup, scored 9.8 in an exhibition performance against Utah and has a season-best of 9.875. McCullough and is a two-time Level 10 national champion on the event.

The Bruins have scored 49.25 or better on bars in the last four meets, with a high of 49.4 set at Cal on Feb. 17. Career-highs from the Bruins on bars include a 10.0 from Tasha Schwikert, 9.975s from Berlin, Jordan Schwikert and Li, 9.95 from Comforte, 9.875 from McCullough and 9.85 from Church in her first-ever collegiate routine. Also capable of 9.8+ scores are Allison Taylor (season-high 9.8 set at Cal) and two Bruins who have yet to see action this year on bars - Melissa Chan and Ashley Jenkins, both of whom have career-bests of 9.825.

Team Effort Propels Bruins To Win At Arizona Friday -- With 13 of 15 gymnasts competing, it was a total team effort that kept UCLA's winning streak alive after a 196.575-196.050 win at Arizona on Friday evening. The Bruins regulars built up a big score after two events, scoring 49.375 on uneven bars and a season-high 49.425 on vault, before handing control over to a relatively inexperienced crew on floor exercise in rotation three. Three of the six competitors (Niki Tom, Allison Taylor and Ashley Jenkins) were competing for the first time this season, and two others (Natalie Padilla and Melissa Chan) had competed three or less times. Tom started things off with a 9.825 to set the tone, Padilla earned a career-high tying 9.85, Mizuki Sato scored a new career-best 9.875, and Chan earned a season-high 9.85 to lead UCLA to a team score of 48.75, which increased their team lead to 0.725 heading to the final rotation. The Bruins had no troubles on the balance beam, hitting six-for-six routines to take the overall victory.

Jenkins, Chan Back -- Slowed by injuries all season, sophomore Ashley Jenkins and junior Melissa Chan are now back and ready to contribute. Jenkins, who broke a toe just before the season started, made her season debut on beam at Cal and on floor last weekend at Arizona and against Utah. Chan, who has had ankle issues throughout the season, returned to the floor exercise at Arizona for just the third time this year, and hit a critical 9.85 that helped the Bruins capture the team victory.

Padilla Hits Pair Of Career Highs -- Senior Natalie Padilla had a career night at Arizona, scoring personal-bests on both vault (9.9) and floor exercise (9.85). Padilla's second-place vault score came on the heels of a 9.85 (with one judge awarding a 9.95) set at Cal on Feb. 17. Her 9.85 on floor at Arizona was good for fourth place and tied her high set at Cal State Fullerton earlier in the year.

Tasha Schwikert Scores Big In Arizona -- Senior Tasha Schwikert scored season-highs on all three events in which she competed at Arizona, earning a 9.925 on uneven bars (second place), 9.95 on vault (first place) and 9.875 on beam (tied for first place). Schwikert's season-high on floor is 9.95, set most recently against Utah last Sunday.

Jordan Schwikert Having Consistent Season -- Senior Jordan Schwikert has been one of UCLA's most consistent gymnasts this season, hitting 23 of 24 routines, including 18 in a row. Schwikert is averaging 9.74 or better on all four events, with highs of 9.9 on bars and beam and 9.875 on vault and floor.

Setting The Table -- Competing comfortably and more than capably in the leadoff position on all four events is junior Ariana Berlin. The leadoff position is not typically one that is embraced by most competitors, but Berlin thrives in the role of setting the tone for the rest of her team and setting them up for big scores. In 12 of 23 routines this season, Berlin has recorded a leadoff score of 9.8 or greater, including a 9.875 on uneven bars at Cal that set the tone for a season-high 49.4 team score, a winning mark of 9.85 on balance beam at Washington that led to a season-high team score of 49.15 and a 9.8 on floor exercise that led to another season-high team mark of 49.275 in Chicago. Perhaps Berlin's most impressive leadoff moment came last year at the NCAA Team Finals, when she scored a 9.9 as the leadoff vaulter, helping the Bruins capture fourth place.

Freshmen Get In Mix -- The Bruin freshmen have been making big contributions this season. Niki Tom has competed in five of eight meets on the year, recording highs of 9.825 on vault and floor and 9.85 on beam. Allison Taylor has posted a high of 9.8 on bars and got her first taste of action on floor exercise at Arizona last Friday. Marci Bernholtz has a high of 9.875 on the balance beam with a first-place showing at Fullerton and a second-place finish against Stanford. Mizuki Sato has competed on floor six times and recorded a season-best 9.875 that placed second at Arizona. She also had a big mark in an exhibition beam performance, scoring 9.825. Talia Kushynski competed on floor exercise at Fullerton and scored 9.675 in her competition debut. She also hit her exhibition beam routine in Las Vegas for a 9.5. Shavahn Church made her collegiate debut on the uneven bars against Utah on Sunday and scored 9.85 to place fourth.

Streaks -- Anna Li's streak of 22 straight meets competing in the all-around ended last Friday when she only performed on vault and uneven bars at Arizona. She currently ranks fourth in the nation in the all-around and holds a career-best of 39.6 set Feb. 8 ... Li has hit 88 of 94 career routines without a fall for a hit percentage of 93.6% ... Until last Sunday, Li had never scored lower than 9.775 on uneven bars, averaging 9.886 for her career on that event ... Tasha Schwikert's fall on uneven bars on Jan. 27 snapped a streak of 59 consecutive hit routines. She has hit of 143 of 149 career routines (96.0%) ... Schwikert has hit 34 straight vaults for 9.8 or better and has scored lower than 9.8 just once in her career (9.75) ... Ariana Berlin has hit 122 of 128 (95.3%) career routines without a fall and has competed in 36 consecutive meets ... Jordan Schwikert has hit 18 routines in a row and 23 of 24 overall this season ... The Bruins' streak of hit balance beam routines ended at 30 last weekend at Cal, but overall, they have hit 43 of 48 beam routines on the year (89.6%) and have hit 6-for-6 in five of seven meets.

TV Alert -- UCLA's Feb. 24 dual meet against Utah will be broadcast on Los Angeles cable station LA36 on Saturday, Mar. 8 at 3:30 pm and 10 pm. Randy Rosenbloom and Tasha Schwikert will provide the call. LA36 is also available online at

Looking Ahead -- UCLA closes out its home schedule on Sunday, Mar. 9 with a quad meet against No. 5 Alabama, No. 11 Arkansas and Cal State Fullerton.

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