A Look Back At Regionals
April 10, 2001
Following the NCAA regional at Nebraska, the news is that we did not qualify to nationals as a team. We did have two individuals advance to the NCAAs as individual participants. Emily Pritchard in the all-around, and Mandi Klug qualified as an event specialist on the beam. I am not going to go into great detail about scores on each event. Instead I want to talk about the meet in general.
We had a very good rotation Vault, bye, bars, beam, bye and then finish on floor. We started out on vault and we rocked! We had the highest team score of the entire competition and we were the first team up. I thought that we were going to kick some major butt at this competition. We had just set a school record at the Pac-10 Championships just two weeks ago. We then went to a bye.
During our bye I watched Nebraska on the bars. They hit some very impressive and difficult routines, but were scoring only 9.7's or 9.8's. I thought that we would really have to be clean to get close to Nebraska on bars. After the bye we went to bars.
Kim Claussen our first gymnasts up hit a good routine and went 9.70. At this point I thought this will work out, and we can stay in striking range of Nebraska. Unfortunately disaster struck. Our next three gymnasts, Dani Medlin, Tanya Powers, and Lanna Apisukh, all fell. I felt as though all of the wind had been let out of a balloon.
Emily Pritchard and Stacy Wong hit their sets with good scores, but the damage had been done. Not that we were totally out of the competition, but it had shocked the team in a way that is hard to describe.
Inside I was churning, but I had to try to encourage them to not give up. I told the team quickly in a huddle before we left bars for beam that 'Yes we struggled on bars, and it hurt us. The easiest thing to do at that point would be to give up and quit trying, but that is not what this team or Husky gymnastics is about. Bars are done and we have two more events to events to concentrate on hitting.'
We went to beam and did the three minute one-touch warm up. I knew that it would be hard to come back from three falls on the bars, but I have seen some stranger things happen in gymnastics so you just do not quit trying. We were all set for beam and our first gymnast up Tanya Powers fell on her mount. This put more pressure on the rest of the team to hit. The team did a very good job.
Mandi did an outstanding routine to score an event winning 9.90, and eventually put her in nationals. Unfortunately Lanna Apisukh fell on her punch front on the beam, so we ended up counting a fall on beam. We now had a bye before floor.
The gymnasts went back to their locker room to wait until the bye was over to do floor. We warmed up floor, and I have to say the team did an outstanding job. Stacy Wong fell on her last pass, but that fall would not count off of our team score. Unfortunately it ended up knocking Stacy out of nationals in the all-around.
Our competition was over. I think the entire team, as well as the coaching staff, was shell-shocked. We had not had this much trouble in a competition except maybe once this season. This was not the time to do it again. The most difficult thing to accept was the fact that if we had had ONE less fall we would have qualified to nationals.
If we had been at the West Regionals in Los Angeles even with the six falls we would have qualified to nationals. If we had been in the Central Regionals in Utah we would have qualified to nationals.
There are so many things you can say about 'if this, or if that'. The bottom line is that we did not come through when we needed to, and I can guarantee this will never happen again.
We had a short team meeting in the locker room. I was so emotionally drained that I could not say what I wanted to say to the team, and cut the meeting short. It is so very hard to come through the season we had had and have it end like this, but we could not go back and change what had already happened.
Frustrated, yes. Angry, yes. Disappointed, no.
Let me tell you this, without a doubt, I have had more pleasure coaching this team than any team in my 11 years here at the University of Washington. I have had teams with much more depth in talent, but this team worked hard every day to reach their goals. This team had heart, and they were working right up to the top of their potential. They did everything that was asked of them without question. I am sorry for the fact we did not qualify on to the NCAA Championships, but I will not apologize for this team. They deserve congratulations for an outstanding season of hard work, dedication, and spirit. It was a privilege to be their coach.
Washington Women's Gymnastics Coach
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