Husky Gymnasts Hit the Road for Busy Weekend

Feb. 8, 2006

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The Meets: The No. 29 Washington gymnastics team (3-7 overall, 1-5 Pac-10) hits the road for two meets this weekend. UW will face Utah State (2-8) and Texas Woman's University (4-5) on Friday in Logan, Utah at 6:30 p.m. PT and then head to Los Angeles for a Sunday meet against No. 11 UCLA (8-1 overall, 4-0 Pac-10) at 2 p.m. PT.

Series History (Utah State and Texas Woman's): The Huskies are 8-9 all-time against the Utah State Aggies. The teams last met on Feb. 6, 1999 in Boise, Idaho where Utah State and Boise State both defeated the Huskies. The Huskies last defeated the Aggies on March 6, 1998 in Logan, 194.775-191.724. Friday will be the second-ever meeting between the Huskies and the Texas Woman's Pioneers. The Huskies defeated the Division II Pioneers at the 2004 Cancun Invitational 196.450-189.175.

Series History (UCLA): The Huskies will be facing the UCLA Bruins for the third time this season on Sunday. Washington is 0-2 this year and 2-30 all-time against the five-time NCAA Champion Bruins. The Huskies finished fourth at the season-opening Hawaiian Classic that UCLA won with a score of 193.775. The Huskies and Bruins also met in Seattle on Jan. 20, where UCLA won 194.600-190.650. After Sunday, UW and UCLA will meet again at the Pac-10 Championships on March 25 in Corvallis, Ore.

Last Week: For the fourth time in five meets, Kelly McDonald won bars and Ashley Houghting won vault, but 10th-ranked Arizona escaped the evening with a 195.325-193.000 win at the McKale Center in Tucson, Arizona. Houghting was the Huskies top all-arounder, finishing third with a career-high equaling 38.700.

Scouting the Aggies: Utah State is one spot ahead of the Huskies in the latest GymInfo poll, sitting at 28th this week. Jessica Parenti, Alex Martin and Meagan Lewis are the Aggies top all-arounders. Utah State is the second-highest ranked team from the Western Athletic Conference, one spot behind conference foe Utah State.

Scouting the Pioneers: Texas Woman's University posted a season-high 192.000 last week against Southeast Missouri State. TWU is ranked 36th nationally and 21st on bars. The Pioneers' only all-around performer is Brisa Fuentes. She is the first TWU gymnast to compete all-around for the Pioneers in the last three years.

Scouting the Bruins: UCLA has a season average of 194.845 to earn an 11th-place ranking in the latest poll. The Bruins are ranked nationally eighth on vault, 11th on bars, sixth on beam and 20th on floor. Freshman Kristina Comforte, a member of the U.S. National Team, earned Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week after becoming the first gymnast in the nation to score a perfect 10. All-American Kate Richardson has won all-around in four of UCLA's five meets, including scoring a season-best 39.550 last Friday in UCLA's 195.925-190.050 win over Cal State Fullerton. UCLA is coached by four-time national coach of the year Valorie Kondos Field. Field's roster is dotted with three All-Americans from last year's Pac-10 and NCAA West Regional championship squads, including reigning NCAA Champion Tasha Schwikert, 2003 NCAA bars and beam champion Richardson, and 2005 beam All-American Jordan Schwikert. Tasha Schwikert will miss the meet while she recovers from arthroscopic shoulder surgery.

Fresh Vaulting: Freshmen Ashley Houghting and Kristen Omori have made quite a splash on vault in their first year as Huskies. Houghting has won four individual vault titles in the first five meets and is currently ranked fifth in the nation, first in the Pac-10, with a 9.885 average. She has scored 9.9 in three-consecutive meets and has yet to score below a 9.85. Omori is 36th nationally on vault with a 9.815 average and her only score below a 9.8 was a 9.775 last week in Arizona.

Rough Schedule: The Huskies seven losses this season have come against teams all currently ranked in the Top-25: Utah (2nd), Arizona State (10th), twice UCLA (11th), Arizona (14th), Oregon State (19th) and Arkansas (21st). The road ahead doesn't get any easier. The Huskies still have to face Stanford (12th) and Utah State (28th) and have re-matches against UCLA , OSU and Arkansas on their schedule.

Fabulous Freshmen: With many Husky veterans out due to injury, Levesque is counting on contributions from his five freshmen. Ashley Houghting has competed all-around five times, and is currently fifth in the nation on vault with a 9.885 average and the top Husky all-arounder, ranked 77th nationally. She has already won vault four times and was the first Husky since Kelly McDonald in 2003 to win an event in her collegiate debut. Kristen Omori has also been a pleasant surprise, finishing second on floor against Utah, UCLA and Arizona and also contributing on vault and beam in the first five meets. Kelly Gilbert has been in the floor and beam lineup, while walk-ons Emily Epsten and Katie Boyko have each seen action on the vault.

Sophomores Jinx?: The Huskies have six sophomores on their roster and only one: Jennifer Chang is healthy right now. Nicole Waiss will miss the season after tearing her right ACL in fall camp. Brittney Brabec, the team's 2005 Most Promising Freshman, will red-shirt this season after undergoing Tommy John Surgery on her elbow. Julie Medeiros will sit out this season while nursing a stress fracture in her left foot. Raimey Iselin is out for at least a month to rest her ailing back. Red-shirt freshman Jessica Brown has seen limited action while recovering from shoulder surgery. The most recent Dawg to fall to injury, Natalie Gillan, missed the Arizona meet due to a toe injury suffered while practicing her beam mount in practice last week.

Husky Head Coach Bob Levesque: Washington head coach Bob Levesque is in his 16th season coaching the Huskies in 2006. Levesque owns a career record of 222-211-2. He came to Washington in 1991 after a career as a highly successful club coach. He has taken the Huskies to the NCAA Championships three times (1994, 1997, 1998) and guided the team to one NCAA Regional championship (1998). Levesque was honored as the Pac-10 coach of the year in both 1997 and 1998. As a club-level coach, he tutored six future Olympians. He also coached Tanya Chaplin, the current head coach at Oregon State. Levesque is a 1972 graduate of Fresno State.

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