GymDawgs Welcome Utah State for 2007 Home Opener

Jan. 10, 2007

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The Meet: Washington's gymnastics team (0-1) hosts its first home meet of the 2007 season Friday, Jan. 12, welcoming regional rival Utah State (1-1) for a 7 p.m. meet at Bank of America Arena. Fans who can not attend the meet in person can follow along at -- both live scoring and live video will be provided free of charge. Former Husky gymnast Carly Dockendorf will be providing commentary on the live video stream.

The 5th Event: Want to meet the GymDawgs? This season, Husky fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite UW gymnasts after every home competition. Called The 5th Event, this fun, interactive post-meet function in the Founder's Club at Bank of America Arena is a must for any GymDawgs fan, providing the opportunity to coverse with and receive autographs from each UW gymnast, while enjoying free refreshments and promotional giveaways. Don't miss out on the fun!

The Week That Was: Washington's gymnastics team faced a tough challenge in the season opener at fifth-ranked UCLA, falling 194.000-188.175 to the five-time national champions. Sophomore Ashley Houghting posted the highest Husky finish of the night, tying for first on the beam with a 9.725. That score helped propel UW to its highest team total of the night, their score of 47.350 just .175 behind UCLA. Houghting also placed fourth on floor exercise, while junior Natalie Gillan tied for fourth on beam and was third in the all-around. Gillan also posted the highest individual score by a Husky at the meet, earning a 9.775 on vault.

Huskies At A Glance: Washington returns 10 of 11 letterwinners from a young 2006 squad, which missed qualifying for the NCAA Regional Championships for the first time in its 35-year history. That youth, however, returns in 2007 as experience, while the team's seniors have embraced their role as leaders. Certain to be among the leading contenders for regional and national-meet berths is sophomore Ashley Houghting, UW's top vaulter as a freshman and a gymnast expected to make significant contributions in the all-around in 2007. Sophomore Kristen Omori scored 9.850s or higher on both vault and floor in 2006, and is expected to be a factor in the all-around by year's end, while senior Chelsea Bakken posted an RQS of 38.495 last year, and should be in the top-three for UW on every event. Washington will also lean heavily on junior Natalie Gillan, an outstanding vaulter and strong all-around performer, as well as junior bar workers Raimey Iselin and Nikki Waiss, and sophomore beam specialist Kelly Gilbert.

Aggies At A Glance: Utah State returns a veteran squad in 2007, including four fifth-year seniors. The Aggies are led by senior Jessica Parenti-Otte, the WAC bars champion in 2006, whose all-around victory last weekend carried 34th-ranked Utah State to a second-place finish at a three-way meet with Sacramento State (1st) and Wisconsin-LaCrosse. Freshman Katy Schilla also provided a victory, earning a 9.850 on vault.

UW-Utah State Series: Friday's meeting will be the 19th all-time between Washington and Utah State, with the Aggies leading the series by a slim 10-8 margin. This year's visit from the Aggies marks the second leg of a home-and-home series between the two teams, which kicked off with a 193.350-190.400 Utah State victory in Logan, Utah, last year. Interestingly, despite the relatively long history between the two teams, Friday's meeting will be the first between them in Seattle since 1994, when the Huskies handed USU a 187.100-186.400 setback.

Did You Know?
Washington is 79-15-1 against non-conference opponents at home since joining the Pac-10 Conference in 1987, including a 20-5 record against non-conference foes since the reopening of Bank of America Arena in 2001.

Injury Update: Washington enters Friday's meet with Utah State in relatively good health, with sophomore Kristen Omori the only Husky to have suffered an injury of any significance since the start of practice in the fall. The talented vaulter and expected all-around contribtor has been slowed by a sprained ankle the past few weeks, and was held out of UW's season-opener at UCLA. While her return for the Utah State meet is possible, it is likely that should she compete, she would be limited solely to performing on beam.

To Be The Best, Beat The Best: Washington received no favors from the schedule-makers in 2007. Eight of the Huskies' 12 listed regular-season opponents are ranked in the GymInfo Preseason Top-25, including No. 2 Utah, No. 5 UCLA, No. 8 Stanford, No. 11 Arizona State, No. 12 Oregon State, No. 16 Arizona and No. 21 Minnesota. Furthermore, of the four unranked opponents, two -- Utah State and California -- joined UW in the 'receiving votes' category. A difficult schedule is nothing the Huskies aren't used to, however -- in 2006, 18 of UW's 28 opponents boasted top-20 rankings at the time of their meeting, including all but one of the Huskies' six Pac-10 foes.

Hough'd She Do That?: Sophomore Ashley Houghting had an outstanding freshman season in 2006, her eight individual vault titles the fourth-most ever by a Husky freshman. Houghting's eight vault wins also tied her for the sixth-most on the apparatus in UW history. In fact, the freshman phenom was defeated on the apparatus just three times in 2006, out of 11 total competitions. Houghting, who has added an all-around component to her repetoire this season, finished the 2006 season ranked 11th nationally on vault with a RQS of 9.895.

That's Omori: Sophomore Kristen Omori made quite a splash in her first season as a Husky. Although she won just one individual title (floor vs. Cal on Feb. 17), she emerged as one of the Huskies most consistent performers. Omori competed on vault, beam and floor in all 12 meets, the only Husky to do so. Her scores were stellar during that span, too, as the Kirkland, Wash., native scored a 9.7 or higher in 32 of those 36 routines. She has yet to score below a 9.725 on vault and has only scored below a 9.725 on floor once, in her first collegiate meet. Omori finished the 2006 season ranked 12th in the Pac-10 on vault, 20th on beam, and 17th on floor.

Meet the Coaches: Washington is fortunate to have an outstanding trio of first-year coaches in 2007, including head coach Joanne Bowers (James Madison, `82) and assistant coaches Shanna Duggan (Michigan, `05) and David McCreary (Illinois State, `78). Bowers has amassed impressive credentials as an assistant coach at Michigan from 2002-06, coaching 13 All-Americans and four Big Ten champions, while helping guide the Wolverines to five-straight NCAA Championships appearances. Duggan, who assists with UW's beam, floor and vault efforts, also brings a winning attitude to Washington after a stellar collegiate career during which she earned second-team All-Big Ten honors, and was an Academic All-American. McCreary, meanwhile, has placed several gymnasts on the U.S. National Team during a distinguished 20-year coaching career at the club level, and will assist with UW's bars, vault and tumbling efforts.

The Future's So Bright: First-year head coach Joanne Bowers has already signed four outstanding preps to letters of intent for the 2007-08 academic year. Samantha (Sam) Wailor (Prior Lake, Minn./Thompson's Academy) is a six-time national qualifier and four-time Region 4 all-around champion, while Danielle Henderson (Visalia, Calif./Central Calif. Gymnastics Institute) is a Region 1 floor champion and a two-time Junior Olympics natiuonal qualifier. They'll be joined by two-time Junior Olympics national qualifier Haley Bogart (Woodside, Calif./Airborne Gymnastics) and Region 3 all-around runner-up Karen Cain (Kyle, Tex./Olympic Hill Gymnastics), who both boast impressive resumes as well.'They're exactly the kind of student-athletes any University would be proud to call their own,' Bowers says.

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