Bruin Gymnasts Defeat Oregon State, 196.775-195.950
March 2, 2008
Los Angeles, Calif. - Despite competing without top all-around gymnast Anna Li, who sat out after being injured during last week's meet, the ninth-ranked UCLA gymnastics team defeated 10th-ranked Oregon State on Sunday afternoon, 196.775-195.950. Tasha Schwikert continued to shine for the Bruins, scoring a season-high 39.625 to win the all-around, and Brittani McCullough made a triumphant return after her concussion last week, scoring a season-high 39.375 in the all-around to tie for second with Oregon State's Jami Lanz.
UCLA got off to a strong start on vault when leadoff performer Ariana Berlin scored a season-high 9.85. Jordan Schwikert added a 9.825, and Natalie Padilla earned 9.875. Kristina Comforte returned to the vault lineup after her knee injury suffered on January 27, and stuck a big Yurchenko full vault for a 9.9. Also contributing to the team score of 49.35 was Tasha Schwikert, who scored 9.9. Oregon State kept it close with a first-rotation score of 49.225 on uneven bars. The Beavers had four scores of 9.825 or better, led by a 9.9 from Jen Kesler.
The Bruins increased their lead in rotation two, scoring a season-high 49.425. Berlin again led off with a 9.85, followed by a pair of 9.825s from McCullough and Shavahn Church. Jordan Schwikert earned a season-best 9.925 with a routine that featured perfect held handstand positions, a Geinger and an effortless giant full to stuck double pike dismount. Comforte also had a standout routine that scored a season-high tying 9.9. Tasha Schwikert tied her sister for first on the event with a 9.925 after a high Tkatchev and stuck double layout dismount. Oregon State had two 9.925 vaults from Tasha Smith and Mandi Rodriguez to lead the way to a 49.05 score.
UCLA led at the halfway mark, 98.775-98.275, but had some struggles on the balance beam. Berlin got the Bruins off to a good start with a 9.8, but Marci Bernholtz was slightly off on her full-twisting swing-down and had to grab the beam to keep from falling off the apparatus, finishing with a score of 9.4. Jordan Schwikert had a bobble on a leap series and scored 9.725. McCullough picked things up, however, with a career-high 9.9, sticking a high double back dismount. Tasha Schwikert followed with a season-high tying 9.875, but Melissa Chan, in her first beam routine of the season, fell on beam for the first time in her collegiate career, scoring 9.15. The Bruins' total of 48.7, coupled with Oregon State's 49.2 on floor put the teams dead even with a score of 147.475 heading into the final rotation.
The balance beam also gave Oregon State some trouble, and the Beavers had to count a fall, scoring 48.475 despite four 9.8+ marks. The Bruins aced it on floor exercise, starting with a 9.725 from freshman Niki Tom. Berlin followed with a 9.775, and freshman Mizuki Sato scored 9.85. McCullough and Jordan Schwikert each scored season-highs of 9.875, and Tasha Schwikert closed it out with a 9.925 that gave the Bruins a season-best floor score of 49.3 and a winning total of 196.775. The score was UCLA's second-best of the season. Oregon State finished with 195.950.
With the victory, UCLA improves to 13-1 on the year and finishes Pac-10 Conference action with a perfect 6-0 record. Oregon State picks up only its second loss of the season (both to UCLA) and falls to 8-2, 5-1 in the Pac-10. The Bruins have one last home meet in Pauley Pavilion next Sunday, Mar. 9 against Alabama, Arkansas and Cal State Fullerton at 2 pm.