UCLA Finishes Third In Quad Meet
March 9, 2008
Los Angeles, Calif. - UCLA placed third in its final home meet Sunday afternoon but, more importantly, lost another gymnast to injury, as redshirt freshman Brittani McCullough ruptured her left Achilles tendon on the takeoff of her opening tumbling pass. McCullough will miss the remainder of the season.
'If it's possible to feel worse for an athlete than you normally would after an injury, that's how we all feel about Brittani McCullough,' said UCLA head coach Valorie Kondos Field. 'She ruptured her right Achilles two years ago, was in a car accident last year and severed a tendon in her toe, and now this. It's heartbreaking to see someone who does everything right in life have to suffer so much.'
McCullough's injury meant UCLA had to count a fall on floor exercise after already counting a fall on balance beam, which dropped the Bruins to third place with a score of 195.8. Arkansas won the meet with a season-high tying 196.425, and Alabama, which counted a fall on both bars and beam, was second with a 195.925. Cal State Fullerton placed fourth with a 192.625.
The Bruins had the lead by over five-tenths of a point at the halfway mark after a strong vault set that scored 49.425 and a solid uneven bars rotation that scored 49.175. Ariana Berlin's leadoff vault scored 9.85, setting the stage for a pair of 9.9s from Jordan Schwikert and McCullough, a 9.925 from Tasha Schwikert and a 9.85 from Kristina Comforte. In rotation two, UCLA moved to the uneven bars, where scoring was fairly tight throughout the day. Tasha Schwikert led the team with a 9.875 that was good for second place. McCullough contributed a 9.85, and Berlin and Anna Li scored 9.825s. Jordan Schwikert added a 9.8 and Comforte a 9.7.
UCLA lost its lead in the third rotation, however, after counting a fall. The early part of the lineup scored well, with Berlin hitting a 9.775 leadoff routine, and Jordan Schwikert totaling 9.825. Tasha Schwikert and Li ended strong, with Tasha scoring a season-best 9.9, and Li earning 9.875. But the Bruins only scored 48.65 and dropped into a second place tie with Arkansas with a three-event total of 147.25. Alabama blasted to the top with a 147.525 after a huge vault score of 49.55. The Crimson Tide led off with a 9.875 from Brittany Magee and ended with a near-perfect 9.975 from freshman Kayla Hoffman.
Alabama opened the door for both teams in the final rotation after two of its first three competitors fell on uneven bars, but only Arkansas was able to capitalize, scoring 49.175 on vault to claim its first-ever win over its SEC rival. The Gym Backs, who are coached by former UCLA assistant coach Mark Cook, claimed its second win over the Bruins. UCLA's floor exercise misfortunes continued with McCullough's injury, and the Bruins had to count Natalie Padilla's 9.1. Immediately after McCullough's injury, it was up to Tasha Schwikert to try to end the meet on a positive note, and she nailed a dynamic and difficult floor routine that scored 9.975 with a perfect 10 from one judge and a 9.95 from the other. Tasha had a nice send-off in her final home meet as a Bruin, winning the all-around with a season-high 39.675 and placing first on floor (9.975) and second on vault (9.925), bars (9.875) and beam (9.9). Her sister Jordan also had a strong senior day meet, placing third in the all-around with a season-high 39.4.
UCLA concludes the regular season on Saturday, Mar. 15 with a trip to Athens, GA to face the top-ranked University of Georgia.