Golden Bears Face Tough Task At NCAA Regionals

March 30, 2004

Berkeley, Calif. -

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THIS WEEK: Saturday, April 3 NCAA RegionalsGill Coliseum, Corvallis, Ore. 6:00 p.m.

WHAT'S ON TAP: The postseason begins for the Golden Bears (9-6, 2-4 Pac-10) as they travel to the NCAA West Regional in Corvallis, Ore., hosted by Oregon State Saturday, April 3. Of the six-team field, the top two teams will receive automatic bids to the NCAA Championships April 15-17 in Los Angeles, Calif.

SCOUTING THE REGIONAL FIELD: The Bears have an uphill climb ahead against a tough field at the West Regional. The five teams Cal will do battle with are No. 3 Alabama, No. 10 Oregon State, No. 15 Oklahoma, Boise State and Cal State Fullerton. The Bears are 2-1 against the field this season, defeating Cal State Fullerton Jan. 9 (193.125-192.625), knocking off Oregon State Jan. 30 (195.675-195.550) and losing to Boise State Feb. 27 (196.175-194.825).

INSIDE THE NUMBERS: The Bears have averaged a 195.216 this season but have come on as of late, including a season-high 196.800 March 20 against Ball State. Alabama will be tough to beat. The Crimson Tide averages a 197.407 this season, and has been very consistent, indicated by the proximity of the their high score (197.950) to their average. Cal has beaten Oregon State once before this season and could do it again. The Beavers average a 196.423 this season and their season best is 197.675. Averaging a 196.365, Oklahoma is within Cal's reach as well. The Sooners have scored a season best 197.300. Boise State averages a 195.158, but has shown it is capable of a lot more. The Broncos once scored a 196.925 this season. Finally, Cal State Fullerton brings a 193.659 average score to the West Regional. The Titans hold a season best of 195.700.

AT 2003 NCAA REGIONALS: This year's trip to Corvalis marks two trips to the NCAA Regionals in two years under head coach Cari DuBois. The Bears finished fourth at last year's competition in Salt Lake City, with a score of 195.025. It was the highest finish for a Cal squad since 1992, when the team finished third. That season was the only year the Bears' made it to the team competition at NCAA Championships. In 2003, My-Lan Dodd became the first women's gymnast to reach the NCAA Championships since Candice Kwok represented the Bears in 1994. Dodd received an automatic bid in the all-around after finishing fourth with a 39.275 at NCAA Regionals.

REGIONAL TRIVIA: Since becoming a varsity program in 1974, the Golden Bears have participated in 15 NCAA regional competitions and two NorPac regionals (1980, 1981), with their best finish being a second place showing in 1991.

THREE BEARS NAMED PAC-10 ALL-ACADEMIC: Junior Dodd and seniors Karissa Chock and Stephanie Kim were named to the Pac-10 All-Academic team last week. Dodd made her second straight appearance on the second team, while Chock received honorable mention for the third time and Kim garnered honorable mention for the second time.

BEARS SEVENTH AT PAC-10 CHAMPIONSHIPS: The Golden Bears managed a seventh place finish with a score of 195.625 at Pac-10's, which is arguably the toughest competition outside of NCAA Championships in the country. Cal was led by Kim, who posted the second best all-around performance of her career. Her 39.425 was only bested by the 39.650 she scored on Senior Night against Ball State. Amongst 21 of the best all-arounders in the country, she finished in an impressive 10th place tie. Dood was second among Cal all-arounders with a 39.275. With Chock's season over because of injury, Brittani Pittullo stepped up to compete in her first all-around of the season. She performed admirably, notching a 38.925, including a 9.875 on the bars.

DODD WINS BEAM: On what has been the Bears' toughest scoring event all season, Dodd tied for first on the balance beam with a 9.950 at Pac-10 Championships. The score was a season-high for the junior and matched the California record she tied March 7, 2003 in Berkeley. Dodd's performance at Pac-10's comes as no surprise though - Dodd has scored above a 9.850 in seven of the Bears 11 competitions this season.

BEARS MAKE STRIDES IN 2004: Among the Bears making the biggest leap in average scoring is Kim. Averaging a 9.714 on bars and 9.743 on beam, Kim turned what were very inconsistent events for her in 2003, into ones that allowed her to be one of the Bears top all-arounders. Dodd's average scores in 2003 were very impressive, except for one event. On the beam, she averaged a 9.660, but now she has shown far greater consistency by upping that mark to 9.793 in 2004. Miho Maeda has been one of the most reliable gymnasts for the Bears' all season, but one event where she has shown marked improvement is on the bars. Averaging a 9.677 in 2003, Maeda upped her average to 9.798 this season. Finally, Monique Chang's performance on the bars this season has been nothing but spectacularly consistent. Averaging a 9.850, her average score is not only up from 9.783 in 2003, but also is the best average score of any Golden Bear in any event.

RECAPPING THE REGULAR SEASON: There is no doubt that this has been an up- and-down season for the Bears. Coming off their best season in several years in 2003, much was expected with the core of this team returning. Cal struggled early but did enough to garner key wins against Arizona State and Oregon State. It was only the third time in California history that the Bears had beaten either team. A poor performance at Boise State Feb. 27 broke a string of five consecutive meets scoring over 195.000, but Cal rebounded with a 195.825 against Utah State Mar. 6. Then came the record-tying performance of 196.800 against Ball State, March 12, on senior night.

A LOOK TO THE FUTURE: The Bears three freshmen this year contributed to a team that needed depth. But more importantly, they gained valuable experience for the future. Isabel Garcia, out of Sacramento Calif., saw the most time. She competed in every meet, notching personal bests on floor (9.850) and beam (9.625). Garcia only missed one floor routine all year and drew a beam assignment four times. From Honolulu, Hawaii, Elyse Wong took to the mats in all but two meets this season. She set personal bests on the vault (9.700) and floor (9.875) and also made a single appearance on beam (9.175). The final member of the freshman trio was Justine Cephus. The Beverly Hills, Calif. native made one appearance this season on the floor exercise (9.550).

WELCOME BACK BRITANI: Cal got a much-needed late season boost, when Pittullo returned to the fold. The sophomore was injured in the Bears' opening meet against Cal State Fullerton. She returned to competition on the beam (9.700) Feb. 27 at Boise State and was part of the Bears' record setting performance on beam (9.825) Mar. 6 at Utah State. She was also a part of the Bears' season best performances on vault (9.850) and bars (9.850) against Ball State. An all-arounder last season, Pittullo should give the Bears a boost heading into the home stretch.

THREE'S NO CROWD IN THE ALL-AROUND: This season, junior Dodd is the only Bears' gymnast to perform in the all-around at every meet. Senior co-captain Kim has only missed one meet, while Chock had only missed one until her season was cut short against Ball State. Last season, Cal did not have a single gymnast compete in the all-around at every meet. Dodd was the closest, missing only one performance in 2003. Dodd leads the group of all-arounders in 2004, averaging a 39.175, followed by Kim, who averages 38.870, and Chock, who averaged a 38.612. Maeda and Pittullo are the only other Cal gymnasts to compete in the all-around this season.

IN THE RECORD BOOKS: By setting a new record on the bars (49.550) against Ball State, the Golden Bears have now established three team records this season. The 2004 Bears established a new team best on the beam (49.300) against Utah State, Mar. 6. During Cal's visit to Stanford, Feb. 20, the Bears' 49.425 on floor set their first team record of the season.

IN THE POLLS: After checking in at No. 21 in the first preseason poll, the Bears find themselves at No. 32 heading into NCAA Regionals. Cal has excelled on the uneven bars this season - a RQS (Regional Qualifying Score) of 49.155 places the Bears as the 23rd-ranked team in that discipline. Vault is another Cal forte - with an RQS of 49.000, the Bears are ranked 29th in that event.

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