UCLA Repeats As NCAA Gymnastics Champions
April 20, 2001
Athens, GA - UCLA successfully defended its NCAA Gymnastics title in front of 8,245 hostile fans at Stegeman Coliseum. The Bruins edged host Georgia by .175 to become only the third school in NCAA history to win back-to-back titles. The championship is UCLA's third in five years and the 85th in school history. It is also UCLA's third in this academic year, as the Bruins also won NCAA championships in men's water polo and women's indoor track and field.
For the second straight night, the Bruins began the meet on the floor exercise. After a fall from UCLA's first competitor put the pressure on early, each remaining gymnast responded. First, Kristen Maloney recorded a 9.8, then Yvonne Tousek scored a 9.875. Onnie Willis, Jamie Dantzscher and Mohini Bhardwaj followed with consecutive 9.9+ scores, with Willis scoring 9.9, Dantzscher hitting a 9.95 for the second straight day, and Bhardwaj recording a 9.9. With the team total of 49.425, UCLA took the early lead by .275 over second-place Georgia, which scored 49.25 on bars.
UCLA continued its success on vault, totaling 49.45 thanks to six 9.8+ scores and three 9.9+ scores. Maloney led off with a strong 9.825 after sticking her vault. Dantzscher followed with a 9.8, and Tousek scored a 9.9. After Willis' 9.875, Kristin Parker drilled her vault to score a career-high tying 9.95. Bhardwaj's 9.9 gave the Bruins a 49.45 total, its fourth-highest total of the season, and a two-event score of 98.875. UCLA's vault score also increased the Bruin lead to .35 over the Gym Dogs and Michigan.
The Bruins moved to the uneven bars for rotation four and earned four scores of 9.85 or higher. Just like in the preliminary session, Willis started off with a great lead-off score of 9.9 and was followed by Parker's 9.85. Tousek scored a 9.925, then Dantzscher recorded a 9.975, which tied for the highest score of the evening. But two mishaps cost the Bruins, leading to a 49.125 and three-event total of 148.0. Meanwhile, Georgia closed the gap with a 49.375 on floor and narrowed the Bruin lead to just one-tenth of a point with only the balance beam left for UCLA.
As the Gym Dogs scored 49.5 on vault, thanks to a 9.975 from Suzanne Sears and a 9.95 from Kristi Lichey, the Bruins matched them score for score. Doni Thompson was more than solid, leading off with a career-high 9.9. Tousek was nearly flawless, scoring a career-high tying 9.95. Willis tied her career-best with a 9.9, and Maloney scored a 9.925, setting the stage for heroics from Bhardwaj. The senior responded with a 9.9 when she needed just a 9.75 to move ahead of Georgia. UCLA finished with a beam total of 49.575, the second-highest mark in school history, and a total of 197.575, while Georgia ended with a 197.4. Michigan was third with a 197.275, Alabama was fourth, Nebraska and Utah fifth.
Tousek won tonight's all-around competition with a career-high and UCLA freshman record 39.65. Willis was third with a 39.575.