UCLA Gymnastics Team Returns To Competition At Denver

Feb. 6, 2007

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Bruins Travel To Denver For Saturday Meet - After enjoying a well-deserved week off, the seventh-ranked UCLA Gymnastics team (5-2) returns to competition on Saturday, Feb. 10 at 13th-ranked Denver (4-5). The meet will take place at Hamilton Gymnasium at 6 pm MT. This will be the first of two competitions against Denver this season. The Pioneers will visit Pauley Pavilion for a quad meet on Feb. 25.

Live Coverage - Live video and scoring will be provided at denverpioneers.com

In The Rankings - UCLA ranks seventh in the latest national rankings with a total season average of 195.671. The Bruins rank fifth on uneven bars (49.092), and floor exercise (49.050), eighth on vault (49.058) and 16th on balance beam (48.471). Individually, Tasha Schwikert ranks No. 4 in the all-around (39.396), No. 6 on floor exercise (9.900), No. 9 on vault (9.879) and tied for No. 21 on balance beam (9.825). Anna Li is tied for 15th on uneven bars (9.862).

Denver ranks 13th nationally with a 195.025 season average. The Pioneers rank eighth on floor (48.960), 10th on vault (48.985), 15th on bars (48.715) and 20th on beam (48.365). Individually, Casey Dobyns and Courtney Butler rank 10th and 20th, respectively, on vault, and Sasha Sullivan ranks eighth on floor (9.885).

Bruins Defeat Devils In Desert - Led by strong performances by the Schwikert sisters, UCLA defeated Arizona State on Jan. 26, 195.725-195.275. Tasha Schwikert won the all-around for the fourth consecutive meet, scoring a 39.4. Jordan Schwikert returned to action on the vault after being limited to just uneven bars due to a hamstring injury and earned the Bruins' highest mark on vault with a 9.825. Jordan also set a season-high on uneven bars with a 9.875. The Bruins' uneven bars performance (49.3) gave UCLA an early lead it did not relinquish.

Tasha Schwikert Back To 2005 Form - Junior Tasha Schwikert is back to the form that brought her the NCAA all-around title in 2005. The two-time Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week has averaged a whopping 39.588 during her four-meet all-around winning streak. She has posted the top two all-around scores in the nation this year, a 39.7 vs. Arizona on Jan. 21 and a 39.675 at Cal State Fullerton on Jan. 19.

Fourteen of Schwikert's 24 scores this season (58%) have been 9.9 or higher, including 11 of her last 13 routines. She leads the team with averages of 39.396 in the all-around, 9.900 on floor, 9.879 on vault and 9.825 on beam. Schwikert, a member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team, missed nearly all of last season after undergoing shoulder surgery. She returned to competition in the last regular season meet of 2006 and also competed on three events in the Pac-10 and NCAA Regional meets. She qualified for the NCAA Championships on vault.

Jordan Schwikert Returns To Vault Lineup - Junior Jordan Schwikert, who had been limited to just uneven bars in the Bruins' first five meets due to a hamstring injury, made her season debut on vault at Arizona State. Schwikert made a more than successful return to the lineup, scoring a team-high 9.825. She also recorded a season-best 9.875 on the uneven bars, earning a 9.95 from one of the two judges.

Selesky Shines - Senior Michelle Selesky continues to bring big scores to the Bruins in 2007. The former walk-on had only seen competition time just five times prior to this season but has been not only a mainstay but a top contributor on vault and floor. In the season opener, she won the floor exercise with a 9.9 and tied for third on vault with a 9.825 to make the medals stand for the first time in her career. Both scores were, at the time, two-tenths higher than her previous career-bests. She continued her success the following week, twice scoring 9.825s on vault and earning a 9.825 on floor at Utah to tie for fourth. She improved her personal-best on vault at Cal State Fullerton, scoring a 9.85 to tie for third place and improved it again against Arizona, scoring a 9.9 to earn her first vault victory, tying with teammate Tasha Schwikert. Selesky has placed in the Top 3 on vault in four out of six meets.

Peckett, Berlin Have No-Fall Policy - Last season's most consistent competitors - Ashley Peckett and Ariana Berlin - have not skipped a beat in 2007. Peckett has hit 77 of her last 78 routines without a fall, including all 18 routines this season, while Berlin has hit 67 of her 70 career routines without a fall. This season, Peckett is averaging 9.76 or higher on all three events in which she competes (9.767 on vault, 9.775 on bars and 9.771 on floor). Berlin averages 9.792 on vault, mainly as the leadoff vaulter, and 9.8 on bars.

Li Makes Stellar Debut - Freshman Anna Li made her Pauley Pavilion debut a memorable one, winning the all-around (39.0) and uneven bars (9.85) in her first collegiate meet on Jan. 6. Making the event even more special was the presence of her parents, Yuejiu Li and Jiani Wu, who had won Olympic team medals for China in the same arena at the 1984 Olympic Games. Li improved her all-around score the following week at Utah, scoring 39.2 to place fourth. She also placed second on beam with a 9.825. More career-highs were set at Fullerton on Jan. 19, as Li placed second in the all-around with a career-high 39.275. She also improved her personal-bests on vault (9.85 to tie for third), bars (9.875, second place) and beam (9.825 to tie for second). Li had an even better meet on Jan. 21 vs. Arizona, scoring a career-high 39.55 in the all-around to post the highest score by any freshman in the nation this year. She also won the uneven bars with a career-high 9.95 and placed third on vault (9.825), second on beam (career-high 9.9) and tied for second on floor (9.875). Li is currently tied for 15th in the national rankings on uneven bars.

Dantzscher On A Roll - Sophomore Janelle Dantzscher has hit her stride in the last five competitions, averaging 9.84 on floor and 9.66 on beam. Dantzscher has placed in the Top 3 on floor in the last four meets and has more Top 3 showings on floor than anyone on the team outside of Tasha Schwikert. Dantzscher scored a career-high 9.9 vs. Stanford on Jan. 15 and has placed second on the event in two consecutive meets. She is also coming off a season-best beam score of 9.725, set at Arizona State. Dantzscher, however, will skip this weekend's meet after being diagnosed with a stress fracture in her foot.

Bruins Still Have Room To Grow - Even with the big scores UCLA has posted in the last few meets, there is still lots of room for improvement. The Bruins are still without All-Americans Kristina Comforte and Jordan Schwikert at full strength, and Ariana Berlin has not yet competed on floor exercise due to soreness in her leg. Comforte has been limited to just balance beam after undergoing pre-season shoulder and ankle surgeries and now has a foot injury that will put her out of this weekend's meet. Schwikert just returned to the vault lineup after being limited to only uneven bars.

All three gymnasts are strong all-around competitors. Comforte earned first-team All-America honors in the all-around last season and holds a career-high all-around score of 39.525. Schwikert has a career-best of 39.5 and was an All-Pac-10 performer in the all-around in 2005. Berlin's all-around best is 39.225, and she averaged 9.788 on floor a year ago.

About The Pioneers - Denver is coming off a 195.650-194.150 road win over New Hampshire. Heather Huffaker won the all-around with a 39.275 and placed first on beam with a 9.9. The Pioneers hold a season-high team score of 196.425.

Two Meets To Be Televised On LA36 - UCLA home meets on Feb. 25 (vs. California, Cal State Fullerton and Denver) and Mar. 4 (vs. Georgia) will be televised on a delayed basis on Los Angeles cable station LA36. The station can be found throughout Los Angeles on Time Warner Cable and other LA-affiliated cable stations. Check your local listings for air dates and times.

Ten-Year Anniversary - UCLA will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of its first NCAA women's gymnastics title on Mar. 4 when the Bruins host Georgia in the home finale at 2 pm in Pauley Pavilion. Members of the 1997 squad will be in attendance and honored during the meet.

High-Level Recruiting Class To Join UCLA In 2008 - Head coach Valorie Kondos Field signed another strong recruiting class during the early signing period, inking 2006 World Championships competitor and 2004 Olympic alternate Marci Bernholtz from Unionville, Ontario, Canada (ASF Gymnastics); international elite and 2003 U.S. Championships competitor Allison Taylor from Dallas, Texas (WOGA); and three-time Level 10 National qualifier Mizuki Sato from Fair Oaks, Calif. (Technique Gymnastics).

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