UCLA Visits Defending NCAA Champion Georgia Fri., Hosts Quad Meet Sun.
Feb. 15, 2006
UCLA vs. Georgia Friday - The ninth-ranked UCLA gymnastics team (12-1) will travel to Athens, Ga. to face top-ranked Georgia (10-0) on Friday, Feb. 17 at 7:30 pm ET in Stegeman Coliseum. The meet will be televised on Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast, delayed on Feb. 20 at 9:00 pm ET and on Feb. 22 at 12:30 pm ET.
Two Of Nation's Best To Face Off - Friday's meet will showcase two of the most successful teams in NCAA history. UCLA and Georgia have been the dominant teams at the NCAA Championships, winning eight of the last nine NCAA titles (UCLA in 1997, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004; Georgia in 1998, 1999 and 2005) and combining for 11 titles overall. The Bruins and Gym Dogs are also the only two teams who have qualified for every Super Six Team Final at the NCAA Championships since its inception in 1993. Georgia and UCLA rank 1-2 in all-time NCAA individual championships, with Georgia claiming 26 titles and UCLA earning 25.
Live Coverage - Live streaming video and audio (fee-based) and free live scoring and commentary will be available for Friday's meet at www.georgiadogs.com.
Bruins Return Home Sunday For Quad Meet - The Bruins will have little time to rest after their cross-country trip to Georgia. On Sunday, Feb. 19, UCLA will host 12th-ranked Arizona State, Cal State Fullerton and UC Davis in a 2:00 pm quad meet in Pauley Pavilion.
Tickets - Tickets to UCLA home gymnastics meets are available for sale at the UCLA Central Ticket Office (310-UCLA-WIN). Single-meet tickets are $12 (adult)/$10 (youth) for reserved and $8 (adult)/$6 (youth) for general admission. UCLA students are free with valid ID.
Promotions - Free meet program/posters will be distributed to the first 500 in attendance. This week's program/poster features the Bruin freshman class of Ariana Berlin, Melissa Chan, Kristina Comforte, Jalynne Dantzscher, Janelle Dantzscher, Alyssa Kitasoe and Maranda Smith.
Live Coverage - Live streaming video and live scoring will be available for the Feb. 19 home meet at www.uclabruins.com. Video access is available for subscribers of UCLA All-Access. The fee for UCLA All-Access is $6.95 per month, and it allows users access to audio and video broadcasts of all available UCLA sporting events, including each UCLA gymnastics home meet.
In The Rankings - With a season average of 195.182, UCLA moves up to ninth in this week's national rankings. The Bruins are ranked ninth on vault (49.064), sixth on bars (48.907), 10th on beam (48.593) and 19th on floor (48.618). Individually, senior Kate Richardson ranks 14th in the all-around (39.118), 13th on vault (9.861) and ninth on bars (9.868). Freshman Melissa Chan (9.805) ranks ninth on beam with an average of 9.829, and sophomore Jordan Schwikert is tied for 16th on floor with a 9.833 average.
About Georgia - Defending NCAA champion Georgia lost just one regular from last season's team and bolstered its lineup with the addition of freshmen Courtney Kupets and Tiffany Tolnay. Kupets won the Olympic bronze medal on the uneven bars in 2004 and the World Championships gold on the same event in 2002. Tolnay is a three-time Level 10 national all-around champion. Kupets is not the only World Championships medalist on the Georgia squad - sophomore Katie Heenan won a bronze medal on uneven bars in 2001. Georgia has four athletes ranked in the Top 16 in the all-around - Kupets (2nd), Kelsey Ericksen (3rd), Heenan (11th) and Tolnay (16th).
The Series With Georgia - UCLA is one of the few programs to record any kind of success in Athens in recent years. The last time the Bruins visited Athens on Jan. 19, 2004, they came away with a big victory over the Gym Dogs, 197.85-197.475. Jeanette Antolin won the all-around with a 39.8, the third-highest all-around total posted at Stegeman Coliseum. UCLA also won the 2001 NCAA Championship in Athens, putting together a clutch beam set in its final rotation to hold off the host team. In the last regular season meeting between the two teams, Georgia won in Pauley Pavilion last season, 196.5-196.1. UCLA is 4-12 all-time against the Gym Dogs in regular season meets.
About ASU/CSUF/UCD - Arizona State will pose the stiffest competition for UCLA on Sunday. The Sun Devils are ranked 12th in the nation overall and are third on beam with a 48.855 season average. Cassandra Jusino currently ranks first in the nation in the all-around with an average of 39.475. Ashley Kelly, the 2004 NCAA beam champion, ranks 10th in the all-around with a 39.170 average and boasts the nation's highest all-around total this season, 39.675. Kelly and Jusino rank No. 1 and 2 in the nation on beam. Cal State Fullerton is led by Brittany Hoffman, who ranks in the Top 100 nationally in the all-around, and Erica Ficarrotta, who won last weekend's meet with a 38.475. Facing UCLA in a quad meet last weekend at Cal, UC Davis placed fourth and received a meet-high 9.775 on bars from Brandi Forte. Julia Richards placed fifth in the all-around in her first collegiate all-around attempt.
Berlin Named Pac-10 Gymnast Of The Week - Freshman walk-on Ariana Berlin earned Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week honors after winning the all-around for the first time this season against Washington. Berlin scored a career-high 39.2 to claim the victory, just two days after scoring a then-personal best 39.075 to place second at a quad meet at Cal. Over the weekend, Berlin set new career-highs on bars (9.8), beam (9.775) and floor (9.85), in addition to the all-around.
Bruins Set Season-High At Cal - UCLA recorded a season-high at Cal last Friday night, scoring 196.5 to easily win the quad meet over Sacramento State, Cal and UC Davis. Kate Richardson won the all-around with a season-high 39.575 and took first-place honors on all four events. Richardson led a Bruin all-around sweep, as Ariana Berlin took second with a career-high 39.075, and Melissa Chan placed third with a 38.675. Junior Ashley Peckett won her first individual event of the year, tying with Richardson, Kristina Comforte and two others for first on bars. Jordan Schwikert also won her first event of the year, tying for first on vault with Richardson with a season-best 9.9. She also placed second on floor with a career-high tying 9.875. Jalynne Dantzscher scored career-highs on both events on which she competed, earning a 9.825 on bars and 9.85 on floor in the leadoff positions.
UCLA Wins John Wooden Challenge Against Washington - Two days after competing at Cal, the Bruins returned home to host Washington in the John Wooden Challenge. In front of the legendary UCLA coach, the Bruins won the meet with a 195.55 to the Huskies' 193.2. Five different Bruins won individual events - Ariana Berlin in the all-around (career-high 39.2), Jordan Schwikert and Kristina Comforte on vault (9.9), Kate Richardson on bars (9.925), Melissa Chan on beam (career-high 9.925) and Schwikert on floor (career-high 9.9).
Injury Bug Strikes Again - Two more Bruins hit the injured list this week. Joining Maranda Smith (shin injury) and Tasha Schwikert (shoulder surgery) on the sidelines will be Kate Richardson, who sustained a tricep injury, and Melissa Chan, who, just minutes after hitting a career-high 9.925 on beam last Sunday, injured her calf during the touch warmups on floor and was removed from the lineup. Richardson's status is day-to-day, and Chan is expected to be out for 2-3 weeks.
Berlin Beating The Odds - Freshman walk-on Ariana Berlin has been one of the most pleasant surprises in collegiate gymnastics this season. Berlin, who prior to this season had not competed in gymnastics since a serious car accident in 2001 halted her budding elite career, has been one of UCLA's rocks, hitting all 24 of her routines so far this season. She has broken into the all-around lineup in each of the last five meets (UCLA is undefeated with Berlin in the all-around lineup) and has improved her scores in each meet, breaking 39 for the first time Friday night at Cal with a 39.075 and besting it two days later with a 39.2 vs. Washington. Berlin was selected the UCLA/MET-Rx Student-Athlete of the Week for Jan. 17-22 after placing second in the all-around at Washington and scoring 38.95 against Oregon State two days later and earned Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week acclaim this week.
Peckett Perfect 12-for-12 - Another Bruin having a 'perfect' season is junior Ashley Peckett, who has hit all 12 of her routines this year. She holds the Bruins' second-best averages on both vault (9.792) and bars (9.808), with season-highs of 9.875 and 9.9, respectively. Peckett has hit 45 consecutive routines dating back to last season.
Comforte Scores Nation's Perfect 10 - Freshman Kristina Comforte remains the only gymnast in the nation to score a perfect 10 this season. At Cal State Fullerton on Feb. 3, Comforte hit a flawless Yurchenko layout full vault to receive her first career perfect score. Comforte, a current member of the U.S. National Team, also won the uneven bars with a career-best 9.9 and placed second in the all-around with a career-high 39.475. In addition, she finished third on both beam (9.825) and floor (9.75).
Freshmen Practically Seasoned Veterans - With the amount of competition time the seven-member Bruin freshman class has already attained this season, they could easily be described as seasoned veterans. In UCLA's first seven meets, the freshmen have accounted for 116 of the team's 168 routines (69%). Four freshmen - Kristina Comforte, Melissa Chan, Ariana Berlin and Janelle Dantzscher - have gone all-around at least once.
Richardson Posts One Of Nation's Highest All-Around Marks - Two-time Olympian Kate Richardson posted one of the top all-around marks in the nation this season, 39.575, in winning her fifth all-around title at Cal last Friday. The senior co-captain has won the all-around in five of UCLA's six meets, with her scores improving with each win. In the season opener in Hawaii, she won the all-around (38.75), vault (9.85) and floor (9.8). Against Utah, she nearly swept the competition, winning the all-around (39.275), vault (9.9), bars (9.95) and beam (9.95). At Washington, she won the all-around with a season-best 39.3 and also claimed first place honors on beam (9.9) and floor (9.8). She won vault and tied for first on bars and floor against Oregon State and won the all-around (season-high 39.55), vault (season-high tying 9.9), beam (9.925) and floor (season-high tying 9.9) at Cal State Fullerton. She improved her mark once again at Cal, scoring 39.575 and sweeping the individual titles, winning the all-around and all four events. Remarkably, Richardson is coming off a fractured tibia suffered in September.
Jordan Schwikert Back On Track After Shoulder Surgery - Sophomore All-American Jordan Schwikert is back to her old form after being sidelined from November-late January after arthroscopic shoulder surgery. She returned to the lineup on two events on Jan. 20 and then added floor on Feb. 3. On Friday at Cal, she twisted her Yurchenko vault for the first time this year and was rewarded with a meet-high tying 9.9. She also tied her season-high on beam with a 9.775 and tied her career-high on floor with a 9.875 to place second. Against Washington on Feb. 12, she won two events, tying for first on vault with a 9.9 and winning floor with a career-high 9.9. Her sister Tasha Schwikert, who had the same surgery in December, remains out but is progressing well. The reigning NCAA all-around champion was cleared this week to start training skills.
Selesky-less No More - Junior team co-captain Michelle Selesky, who had been held out of competition due to ankle and foot injuries, made her 2006 debut last Sunday, doing an exhibition vault against Washington. Her Yurchenko layout (9.8 start value) scored a 9.65.
Sister Act 2 - Last season, Tasha and Jordan Schwikert became the first pair of sisters to compete concurrently for UCLA's gymnastics team. This season, the sisters are joined by another pair of sisters, Jalynne and Janelle Dantzscher, who are the first set of twins to compete for the Bruins. The name Dantzscher should be a familiar one to Bruin fans. The twins' older sister Jamie Dantzscher competed for UCLA from 2001-04 and won three NCAA team (2001, 2003, 2004) and four NCAA individual titles (2002 all-around, vault, floor; 2003 bars). Jalynne and Janelle have competed in every meet this season, with Jalynne scoring 9.825 on better on her last three floor routines, and Janelle posting a 9.8 on floor at Cal last Friday.
Early Graduates - Three members of the UCLA squad graduated from high school early to join the Bruins. Jalynne and Janelle Dantzscher took extra community college courses last year so that they could graduate a year early from San Dimas HS. Maranda Smith graduated a half-year early in December and just joined the Bruin team on Dec. 27. She began classes at UCLA in January for the start of winter quarter.
Standouts In Classroom - The Bruins had large success in the classroom in the fall, with 10 team members making the Director's Honor Roll (3.0 or better) for fall quarter. The honor roll student-athletes were Janelle Dantzscher, Jalynne Dantzscher, Ashley Peckett, Michelle Selesky, Courtney Walker, Kristina Comforte, Kate Richardson, Tasha Schwikert, Jordan Schwikert and Lindsey Vanden Eykel.
Looking Ahead - The Bruins will hit the road for a relatively easy travel week compared to this week, traveling just one time zone for a Friday, Feb. 17 meet at Arizona.