Bruin Gymnasts Win Fifth NCAA Title
April 16, 2004
Los Angeles, Calif. - The Drive For Five ended in the Pauley Paviliongarage, as the UCLA women's gymnastics team stuck toits year long motto and took home the school's fifthgymnastics championship and 91st NCAA title overall. The Bruins scored a 198.125, a new NCAA Championship meet record. Georgia placed second with a 197.2, and Alabama and Stanford placed third with a 197.125.
Twelve schools made the trip to Westwood, with sixmaking it to the finals Friday Night. The Bruins werejoined by Utah, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, andStanford.
The entire event was kicked off by a freshman, asAshley Peckett got the Bruins started with a solid9.85 floor routine. On a night when the Bruins beganon one of their strongest events, Peckett's score wasdropped for an opening round score of 49.575.Jeanette Antolin, Jamie Dantzscher, and Yvonne Tousekeach scored 9.9, while Kristen Maloney had a 9.925.The Bruins were led by Kate Richardson's 9.95.
Alabama kept it close early with a 49.375 on thevault, led by a pair of 9.9s by Jeana Rice and AshleyMiles. Stanford also hung around, nailing down a49.250 on the balance beam. Lindsay Wing paced theCardinal with a 9.925.
Georgia had a solid 49.45 after one round. MarlineStephens' 9.9 on the floor set up a thrilling 9.95 byChelsa Byrd.
Utah put itself at an early disadvantage, counting afall on the uneven bars for a first round score of48.325 when Dominique D'Oliveira and Veronique LeClercwere unable to hit their routines. Florida seemed tosuccumb to a case of shaky nerves as well as it had afall and four scores under 9.8 for a total of 48.8 on bars inthe first round. Erinn Dooley led the Gators with a9.875.
With the Utes safely in the rearview mirror andFlorida well behind, the meet became a four-waycontest after one round between UCLA, Stanford,Alabama and Georgia.
The Bruins extended their lead with a 49.525 on thevault for a two-round total of 99.1 before headinginto a bye. Maloney's 9.95 set the pace for JeannetteAntolin, who followed with a 9.975, earning a perfectscore from two of the four judges.
Alabama struggled a little on bars in its secondrotation, but still stayed close, tallying a 49.050.Rice had a team high 9.9, giving the Crimson Tide atwo-round score of 98.425. Stanford's 49.325 on floor kept theCardinal in the hunt with a total of 98.575, good forthird place after two rotations. Caroline Fluhrer andLise Leveille each scored a 9.9, while Natalie Foleyhad a 9.875.
It was the Georgia Bulldogs who maintained the mostpressure on the Bruins, staying on track with a 49.425on the vault. Byrd and Stephens each nailed a 9.95 tokeep Georgia within striking distance and just .225behind UCLA with a two-round total 98.875.
The drama built in the third rotation, as UCLA poundedout a 49.425 on bars for a three round total of 148.525.Antolin and Maloney scored 9.9 and 9.925 respectfully,and Dantzscher capped the effort with a dramatic 9.95that brought the crowd to its feet.
Stanford turned in an impressive third rotation on thevault, with four scores of 9.9 or higher. Leveilleand Jessica Louie turned in scores of 9.925, but theCardinal had to count a 9.7 to hold them to athree-round total of 147.925.
Alabama bounced back on the beam with a team score of49.225. Rice's 9.925 kept the Tide in fourth placeafter three rotations with a team total of 147.650.
Georgia finished its third event in second placewith a 148.0, forcing the Bruins to hit all of theirfinal-rotation routines. In their fifth rotation, UCLA was given the challenge of closing their meet onbeam, widely considered the least desirable closingrotation.
With the unenviable position of finishing the meetwith a bye, the Bruins knew they had to score high onthe balance beam before heading to the locker room.They did that and more, tallying a meet high 49.6 and leaving it mathematicallyimpossible for anyone to top their 198.125. Lori Winnkicked things off with a 9.875, and the Bruins neverlooked back. Antolin stepped up with a 9.95, tying her career high. Richardson followed with her own 9.95, earning a 10from one judge. Tousek had a 9.9, and Maloneyclosed the door with a 9.925.
The rest of the final rotation was a mere formalityand a battle for second place, as Georgia edged outStanford and Alabama by scoring 197.2.
A UCLA gymnast had the highest score on each event,though Byrd tied Richardson on the floor with her9.95. The Bruins were never seriously threatened,tallying the highest team total on each apparatus. Infact, no other team scored higher than 49.5 on asingle apparatus, while the Bruins did it on floor,vault, and beam.
Overall it was the 15th National Championship won by aBruin athletic team inside Pauley Pavilion, the lastcoming in 1996 when the men's volleyball team tookhome the title. This marks the first time the UCLAwomen's gymnastics team has won a championship inPauley Pavilion, with their previous best finish beingrunner-up in the 1984 competition.