UCLA Places Third At NCAA South Central Regionals

April 8, 2006

Fayetteville, Ark. - UCLA placed third at the NCAA South Central Regionals at the University of Arkansas, failing to qualify for the NCAA Championships for the first time since 1991. The Bruins had to count two falls and earned a total of 195.175. Florida (196.375) and Arkansas (195.4) earned the NCAA Championship berths by placing in the Top 2. Senior Kate Richardson and freshman Kristina Comforte qualified as individual all-around competitors after placing first (39.475) and third (39.2), respectively, in the all-around. Sophomore Tasha Schwikert also qualified as a vault specialist by placing first in the event.

The Bruins counted a fall on both bars and beam, which opened the door for the host Lady Backs to earn a nationals spot for the first time in their four-year history. Arkansas took a three-tenths of a point lead ahead of the Bruins after rotation five by scoring a 48.95 on bars and then fortified its lead in the final rotation on beam, earning a 48.975. The Bruins hit their floor routines in the final rotation, scoring a 49.0, but it was not enough to overtake Arkansas.

UCLA, who was without the services of junior Ashley Peckett due to an ankle injury, started off the meet strong, taking an early lead on vault with a 49.25. Ariana Berlin led off with a 9.85 on her Yurchenko full, and Janelle Dantzscher followed with a season-best effort of 9.775 on the same vault. Tasha Schwikert stuck her Yurchenko full, meriting a 10.0 from one judge and a season-high and meet-winning 9.9 overall mark. Kristina Comforte hit a big vault with a hop back and earned a 9.875. Kate Richardson scored a 9.8, and Jordan Schwikert closed the rotation with another clean Yurchenko full, scoring a 9.825. Florida kept pace with a 49.15 on floor, led by a 9.875 from Corey Hartung.

In rotation two, Florida took the lead with a 49.05 on vault and a two-event score of 98.2 while the Bruins were on a bye. Arkansas entered the picture with a 48.7 on floor in its first event.

UCLA moved to uneven bars in rotation two. Berlin hit another strong leadoff routine, earning a 9.8. Jalynne Dantzscher, who has been bothered by a rib problem, came in as a late-sub for Peckett and hit a clean routine for a 9.8. Melissa Chan had a strong routine going until she fell on her double front dismount, which dropped her score to a 9.225. Jordan Schwikert also had trouble on her routine, catching her geinger too close, which caused her to lose swing. Richardson and Comforte righted the ship, however, with outstanding performances worth 9.9 and 9.875, respectively. The Bruins earned a total of 48.6 on bars and a two-event score of 97.85, second to Florida by 0.35 and ahead of Arkansas (97.475) by 0.375.

The Bruins ran into more trouble on balance beam, having to count a fall. Berlin led UCLA off with another solid routine on balance beam, earning a 9.775. After Tasha Schwikert fell twice before her, Jordan Schwikert followed up with a strong routine that merited a 9.8, and Comforte scored a 9.725. Richardson was unflappable, earning a 9.9 with a near-flawless routine. Janelle Dantzscher, a late sub for Chan in the anchor position on beam, fell on her flight series and scored a 9.125 to give UCLA a total of 48.325 and a three-event total of 146.175. Florida increased its lead with a 49.15 on bars and a three-event total of 147.350.

Arkansas had a chance to surpass UCLA in rotation five. The host Lady Backs needed a 48.625 on bars to take over second place with one event to go and got that and more, receiving a 48.95. The score vaulted Arkansas ahead of the Bruins by .25, 146.425-146.175. Florida sewed up first place with a 49.025 on beam and a final total of 196.375.

UCLA ended its meet on floor while Arkansas concluded on beam. Berlin sailed through her routine, scoring a 9.75. Chan performed on floor for the first time since February and hit a strong routine for a 9.775, opening with a double pike and closing with a double tuck. Jordan Schwikert and Tasha Schwikert followed up with identical scores of 9.8. Comforte earned a 9.725, and Richardson closed the meet with a 9.875. Arkansas, meanwhile hit all six routines, scoring a 48.975 to clinch the win.

Richardson won the all-around with a mark of 39.475, and Comforte was third with a 39.2, earning individual all-around berths to the NCAA Championships by being the top two individuals not on a qualifying team. Tasha Schwikert's vault title earned her a vault spot in the Championships.

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