2010-11 Women's Gymnastics Season Kicks Off
The 2011 women's gymnastics season opens with the first-ever Pac-10 Women's Gymnastics Showcase in Los Angeles on Sunday, January 9. ARIZONA, ARIZONA STATE, CALIFORNIA, OREGON STATE, STANFORD, WASHINGTON, and UCLA will battle it out for Pac-10 bragging rights to start the year. Six of the seven Pac-10 schools are ranked in the Top 25 preseason poll - No. 1 UCLA, No. 6 STANFORD, No. 8 OREGON STATE, No. 19 ARIZONA, No. 21 WASHINGTON and No. 25 ARIZONA STATE.
ARIZONA: Arizona is returning three first team all-conference all-around athletes in Deanna Graham, Molly Quirk and Aubree Cristello, and two former all-conference honorees who are coming off of injuries: Rebecca Cardenas and Miranda Russell. This summer, former Wildcat gymnast Randi Acosta was added to the coaching staff. Acosta was the 2002 Pac-10 Champion and NCAA Regional Gymnast of the Year. The Wildcats finished fourth at the Pac-10 Championships and third at the NCAA Los Angeles Regional in 2010.
ARIZONA STATE: Arizona State is poised for a great season with its team finally healthy after a few years of injuries. First-team vault All-American Mary Atkinson and 2009 first-team All-Pac-10 all-arounder Beaté Jones lead the Sun Devils.
CALIFORNIA: California returns all of its top gymnasts from last season, including senior Avery Gee, who earned All-Pac-10 honors in the all-around in 2010, and sophomore Mariesah Pierce, who posted Cal's top beam score and second-highest all-around mark. Cal has one senior and two juniors on the roster. The team has eight sophomores, six of whom gained extensive experience last season.
OREGON STATE: Oregon State is led by All-American and 2010 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Makayla Stambaugh. Oregon State finished the 2010 season with an eighth place finish at the NCAA Championships, its best since a fourth place finish in 1996 under coach Tanya Chaplin. The Beavers have made five straight appearances at the NCAA Championships. Oregon State also returns two-time All-American Jen Kesler, who earned second-team honors in 2008 and 2009 on the uneven bars.
STANFORD: Stanford will be led in 2011 by All-Pac-10 gymnasts Allyse Ishino, Shelley Alexander, Alyssa Brown, Nicole Pechanec and Ashley Morgan. Stanford has made more NCAA Super Six appearances than any other Pac-10 school since 2007. Stanford is coming off its best season, going 19-3, including the Pac-10 championships. Stanford has reached the NCAA championships in eight of the past ten years, and has combined with UCLA to win the past 14 Pac-10 titles. This year's Stanford team features two gymnasts who competed in the 2010 World Championships - freshman Kristina Vaculik for Canada and junior Nicole Pechanec for the Czech Republic - and 2008 Olympian Shona Morgan of Australia.
UCLA: UCLA returns four All-Americans - Aisha Gerber, Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs, Brittani McCullough and Niki Tom. All competed at last year's NCAA Championship. The Bruins lost All American Vanessa Zamarripa, who was set to return in 2011, but is out for the season after she tore her Achilles tendon in December. McCullough, a redshirt senior, is the defending NCAA floor exercise champion. The Bruins' freshman class includes 2008 Olympic silver medalist Samantha Peszek, 2009 Canadian all-around champion Sydney Sawa and 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials participant Olivia Courtney. UCLA has won the last two Pac-10 titles and 15 overall.
WASHINGTON: Washington is led by senior team captains Haley Bogart, Kristen Linton and Samantha Walior. Bogart qualified for the NCAA Championships as an all-around competitor her freshman season, while Linton and Walior were floor exercise competitors at the 2010 NCAA Championships after tying for the regional title on the event. The Huskies also feature freshman Aliza Vaccher, the 2010 Junior Olympic beam champion.