UCLA Freshman Tasha Schwikert Wins NCAA All-Around Title
April 22, 2005
Auburn, AL - UCLA freshman Tasha Schwikert won the NCAA all-around title on Thursday evening, scoring a 39.725 to become the first freshman since 2001 (Michigan's Elise Ray) to claim the crown. Schwikert earned scores of 9.95 on bars and floor, 9.925 on vault and 9.9 on beam.
She defeated her teammate Kristen Maloney, who placed second with a 39.625. The duo became the first pair of teammates to capture the top two spots in the all-around since Kim Arnold and Karin Lichey went 1-2 at the 1998 NCAA Championships. Only four tandems have ever placed 1-2 in the standings - Schwikert/Maloney, Arnold/Lichey, Georgia's Corrine Wright and Lucy Wener in 1989 (UCLA's Tanya Service tied Wener for second) and Utah's Sue Stednitz and Christa Canary in 1982.
Schwikert becomes UCLA's third NCAA all-around champion, joining 2002 winner Jamie Dantzscher and 2001 winner Onnie Willis. Sharon Shapiro won AIAW national all-around titles in 1980 and 1981. UCLA has now had a Top 3 all-around finisher at the last seven NCAA Championships.
'It's very exciting,' Schwikert said after she completed the trifecta by sweeping the Pac-10 Conference, West Regional and NCAA all-around titles. 'I didn't expect to come in here as a freshman and win. I couldn't have done it without my team. I felt like I had them helping me at all times.'
Her trophy haul may not be over. In addition to the team championship, which will be decided on Friday evening, Schwikert will be competing on all four events at the individual event finals on Saturday evening. She is the only competitor to qualify for every event at this year's Championships and the only five-time first-team All-American this year. She is only the third Bruin ever to earn the maximum All-America honors at an NCAA Championship in one year, joining Jamie Dantzscher, who won the all-around, vault and floor in 2002 and Heidi Moneymaker, who won the vault in 1999.
Also qualifying for the event finals for UCLA are Maloney (vault, beam and floor) and Kate Richardson (beam, floor). Schwikert's younger sister Jordan Schwikert earned second-team All-America honors on the balance beam.