No. 24 GymDawgs Return Home To Face No. 3 Utah

Jan. 28, 2010

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This Week
The No. 24 Washington (0-3) gymnastics squad returns home to face its fourth-consecutive top-10 team, hosting No. 3 Utah (2-1) on Friday, Jan. 29 at 7 p.m at Bank of America Arena. The Huskies have had the nation's most difficult schedule thus far in 2009, facing current No. 9 Nebraska, No. 7 UCLA (No. 1 at time of meet), No. 6 Oregon State and now No. 3 Utah. While UW is 0-3 thus far, they have posted scores high enough to keep them in the nation's top 25.

Live Coverage
A free live video feed will be available on GoHuskies.com along with live scoring. In addition, all 2010 home meets will be available for viewing On-Demand to all regional Comcast subscribers. Go to www.GoHuskies.com and visit the gymnastics schedule page for links to stats and video.

Last Week
After performing well against some tough competition in their first two meets of the season - both at home - the Huskies struggled in their first road meet of the year, succumbing to No. 6 Oregon State, 195.700-192.800. A young Husky squad showed its nerves and inexperience in a hostile environment as they got off to a slow start and never recovered, falling to season-lows on each event after improving on nearly all their scores from week one to week two.

Leading the way for the Huskies individually was junior Haley Bogart, who scored at least a 9.725 on the three events she competed in, including a season-high 9.800 on floor. Samantha Walior, meanwhile, finished second on beam with a 9.775.

Huskies in the Rankings
The Huskies dropped four spots to No. 24 this week after falling at No. 6 Oregon State. UW has reached a high of No. 19 this season, which they reached after a strong opening-week performance against No. 9 Nebraska. UW opened the season in the top-25 for the first time since 2006, coming in at No. 25. The Huskies also appear in the top-25 in the event rankings, coming in at No. 16 on beam and tying for No. 16 on floor.

Challenging Schedule
The Huskies face one of the toughest schedules in the country, competing against seven teams currently in the nation's top-10 including three of the top five. UW opens with five straight meets against top-10 teams, including No. 9 Nebraska, No. 7 UCLA, No. 6 Oregon State, No. 3 Utah and No. 5 Stanford. After two weeks off from ranked opponents, UW faces No. 10 Arkansas, No. 20 Arizona and No. 2 Oklahoma over the next three weeks.

About the Huskies
UW came into the season ranked 25th, returning eight competitors from last year's squad that finished fourth at the Pac-10 Championships, the Huskies' best finish in six years. UW also advanced to the NCAA West Regionals for the third time in head coach Joanne Bowers' three-year tenure. UW has since moved up to No. 24, led by returning All-Pac-10 performers Hatsune Akaogi, who was a Second Team All-Around selection, and Samantha Walior, who was a First Team pick on Floor Exercise. Five freshmen also should help the Huskies challenge the best in the conference.

Scouting the Utes
The 2-1 Utes dropped their season-opener to current No. 7 UCLA before bouncing back to win their last two meets over Iowa State and No. 8 Georgia, the latter of which moved them up three spots in the national rankings after a season-high 196.550.

Utah has not counted a fall this season and last week saw several athletes set career highs in the win over Georgia, including Kyndal Robarts in the all-around (39.275), on vault (9.95) and bars (9.775); Daria Bijak on floor (9.95); Beth Rizzo on vault (9.85); and Cortni Beers on bars (9.70) and beam (9.80). Bijak earned her first all-around win of the season (second of her career) last week against Georgia with a season-best 39.375. Robarts is ranked No. 3 in the nation on vault this week (9.908 average), 10th in the all-around (39.212) and 13th on beam (9.837). Tied for third on floor are Annie DiLuzio and Daria Bijak--both with a 9.90 average. Utah's best apparatus ranking is on floor, where the Utes are ranked third with a 49.100 season average. Utah ranks fourth on beam (48.958) and is 10th on both vault (49.033) and bars (48.900).

About the Series
The Huskies have been unable to beat the Utes in 40 tries, with the Utes winning 39 times to go along with one tie, including a 11-0-1 record in Seattle. The Huskies traveled to Utah last season, falling 196.850-193.450.The Utes have won 12 straight since a tie in Seattle in 2001. In that meet, Washington received a 10.0 on its final floor routine to grab a share of first.

Bowers Beaming
Head coach Joanne Bowers has been thrilled with her team's start this season, particularly on the beam where UW ranks 16th in the nation and third in the Pac-10. The Huskies have been nearly flawless on the apparatus which is the most difficult in the sport. Against then-No. 1 UCLA, four of UW's six competitors scored 9.750 or higher, led by Samantha Walior's 9.800, while on opening night against Nebraska, UW had five of six competitors at 9.650 or higher with junior Haley Bogart leading the GymDawgs with a 9.750. Bogart and Walior are tied for the team lead with an average of 9.742 on the event.

Hats Off to Hatsune
Coming off a stellar freshman campaign in which she earned All-Pac-10 honors in the all-around, sophomore Hatsune Akaogi looks ready to lead the Huskies back into the postseason. The only Husky to perform in the all-around so far this season, Akaogi has been very impressive, tying for the title two weeks ago against No. 1 UCLA and their All-American Anna Li and finishing just a skosh behind Nebraska's Maria Scaffidi for second in the season opener. Akaogi has been a model of consistency this season, especially on floor exercise where she has scored a 9.775 in all three meets this season.

Juniors Leading the Way
With no seniors on the squad this year, the junior class has become the de facto leader of the Husky squad and they have stepped up to the challenge. Samantha Walior has led the way on floor exercise, capping both home meets this season with exclamation point performances, rocking Bank of America Arena with a 9.850 against Nebraska to finish second on the event, and also capping the meet against UCLA in style with a 9.825 to finish third.

Haley Bogart, meanwhile, has had a great start as well, leading the way on beam with a 9.750 in the first two meets and a 9.725 last week to finish fifth each time. She also had 9.775s on both vault and floor the first meet. Kristen Linton, meanwhile, has also turned in some big performances - including a 9.800 on floor against Nebraska.

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