Willis, Dantzscher Nominated For Honda Award
April 26, 2003
Senior Onnie Willis and junior Jamie Dantzscher were selected as finalists for the Honda Award for gymnastics, given annually to the nation's top gymnast. The Bruin pair led UCLA to its third NCAA title in four years and its fourth championship overall.
Willis, a senior from Tacoma, WA, finishes her career with three NCAA titles, three Pac-10 titles, four Regional titles, as well as the 2001 NCAA all-around championship and the 2002 Pac-10 all-around and bars championship. The 2003 Pac-10 Gymnast of the Year helped the Bruins win this year's NCAA title by scoring a 39.55 in the all-around during the Super Six Team Finals. Her 9.925 leadoff score on beam was the catalyst for UCLA's title push in the last half of the competition, as it set UCLA towards a team-high 49.525 on that event, and her 9.9 on floor helped seal the victory. Willis earned first-team All-America honors in the all-around, vault and floor and second-team honors on beam to give her a school-record 16 All-America awards in her career. During the year, she went 53 routines without a fall and recorded 31 scores of 9.9 or higher. She posted a perfect 10 on floor exercise on Feb. 2 and finished her career with six career 10.0s. Willis set career-highs this season in the all-around (39.8), beam (9.975) and floor (10.0). Academically, there are few finer student-athletes than Willis. She is a two-time Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar, Scholastic All-American, Verizon Academic All-District and Academic All-Pac-10 selection. She is also a community leader, serving on the Bruin Athletic Council, Athlete Mentor program and Career-Based Outreach Program.
Dantzscher, a junior from San Dimas, CA, clinched the national championship for UCLA by scoring a near-perfect 9.975 on the floor exercise. She also earned scores of 9.9 on vault, 9.95 on bars and 9.9 on beam to lead UCLA in the championship meet. Individually, she won a share of the uneven bars title and placed second in the all-around, vault and floor. Dantzscher earned first-team All-America honors on vault, bars, floor and the all-around and second-team honors on beam. In her career, she has earned All-America honors on every event on which she has competed at the NCAA Championships and 13 honors total. She has also captured four NCAA individual crowns, all on different specialities. At the 2003 NCAA South Central Regionals, she won the all-around, bars, beam and floor in a dominating performance after a one-month layoff due to injuries and illness. During the year, Dantzscher amassed a school record tying 10 perfect 10.0s (27 career) and hit all 40 of her routines in team competition with no score lower than 9.775 and 33 scores of 9.9 or better. Last season, she won NCAA titles in the all-around, vault and floor. Dantzscher is also an academic standout, earning Academic All-Pac-10 honors for the past two seasons.
Also nominated for the Honda Award are Utah's Theresa Kulikowski and Nebraska's Richelle Simpson. It is the second career nomination for both Willis and Dantzscher. Willis was a nominee in 2001, Dantzscher in 2002.