No. 24 Huskies Bounce Back With Strong Effort Against No. 3 Utah

Jan. 29, 2010

SEATTLE - A week after a set-back in their first road meet of the season, the No. 24 Washington gymnastics squad bounced back to nearly record a season-high score in a 195.850-194.650 loss to No. 3 Utah Friday at Bank of America Arena.

The Huskies (0-4) rebounded from a slow start on vault to post season highs on two of the final three events, but it was not enough against the Utes, one of the nation's strongest programs.

UW was bolstered by a second-place finish on bars by Kristen Linton, a third-place finish on beam by Samantha Walior and three gymnasts tying for second on floor to score big in their fourth-consecutive meet against a top-10 team.

Missing regulars Lauren Rogers and Ruby Engreitz, the Huskies started slow on vault for the second-straight week, equaling their score from last Friday with a 48.150. Haley Bogart led the way for the Dawgs with a 9.750, good for fourth overall, while Amanda Cline set a new season-high with a 9.700. Karen Cain also set a season-high with a 9.550 and Kristen Linton posted a 9.525 in her first vault of the season. UW trailed Utah after one rotation, 49.150-48.150.

On the second rotation, the Huskies headed over to bars where they turned things around in a hurry. Cain made her season debut on the event with a solid 9.600 followed by Cline's 9.700. After Phoebe Tham set a new career-high with a 9.725, Hatsune Akaogi and Linton brought the crowd to their feet with scores of 9.800 and 9.850 respectively, the latter of which was a season high for Linton and put her in second place in the event. Walior capped the rotation with a 9.825, putting her in a tie for fifth and giving the GymDawgs a season-best 48.900 on the bars.

After cutting the deficit to 98.025-97.050 after two rotations, the Huskies went to beam where they put up another season-high score with a 48.775. Paige Bixler started things off with a 9.625 followed by Akaogi setting a new season high 9.775. The Huskies finished the rotation with three solid routines, starting with Anna Epps' career-high 9.775 and Bogart and Walior tying season-highs with scores of 9.750 and 9.850, respectively. Walior's score gave her a third-place showing in the event.

With the score at 146.750-145.825 heading into the final rotation, the Huskies nearly set their third season high of the meet but settled for a 48.825, giving them a total of 194.650, their second-best total score of the season. Three Huskies posted scores of 9.800 to all tie for second, including Bogart, Walior and Akaogi, who established a new career high on the event. Kristen Linton was right behind with a 9.775 and Amanda Cline set a career high with a 9.650.

Akaogi finished fourth in the all-around with a 39.000 while Linton, competing in all-around for the first time this season, posted a 38.275.

'With Lauren Rogers and Ruby Engreitz both out tonight we knew we would struggle on vault and would start in a hole. The thing I was most proud of, though, was that we came back on bars and had a great showing, then we did well on beam and finished on floor,' Washington head coach Joanne Bowers said. 'It's really easy to hang your head when you get in a hole and we didn't. We hit 19 of 20 routines and without Lauren and Ruby that is really good. Hatsune had another good night on all-around and she is clicking on all cylinders. Kristen Linton's bars and floor were just beautiful and Sam and Haley are just Steady Eddies. Amanda and Phoebe both did their best bar routines of the year as well.'

Bowers was also happy with the way the team responded emotionally after the lackluster showing last weekend at No. 5 Oregon State.

'Everyone was so determined after last weekend and we probably had our best week of practice this week,' Bowers said. 'Our best meet of the year in the second week, we hit 18 of 20 routines. We went on the road last week and hit 11. We challenged them today to not look at scores and try to get 20 hits. We got 19 and that's great with Lauren and Ruby out but I'm not satisfied. Hopefully that helps us going into next weekend. It will be interesting to see how we respond.'

The Huskies hit the road next week when they travel down to Palo Alto, Calif., to face No. 5 Stanford, Sacramento State and San Jose State, Sunday, Feb. 7 at 2 p.m.

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