UCLA Earns Season-Best Road Score In Dual Meet Loss At Alabama

March 9, 2007

Tuscaloosa, Ala. - The fifth-ranked UCLA gymnastics team recorded a season-high road score of 196.475 in a dual meet loss at fourth-ranked Alabama on Friday evening. Freshman Anna Li won the all-around and uneven bars, and Tasha Schwikert tied for first on vault and balance beam.

UCLA began the meet on the uneven bars, while Alabama started on vault. Natalie Padilla started things off with a 9.7, followed by a 9.775 from Ashley Peckett, a 9.725 from Ariana Berlin, 9.8 from Tasha Schwikert and a meet-best 9.925 from Anna Li. That gave UCLA a team total of 48.925, four-tenths behind Alabama, which scored 49.325 on vault.

The Bruins had a rough start to vault when Berlin missed her hands on the horse and did not get enough rotation to land properly. She suffered a left ankle sprain on the vault and had to scratch from the rest of the meet. Her teammates picked her up, however, with each of the remaining five vaulters scoring 9.85 or above. Li and Peckett both scored 9.85. Jordan Schwikert and Michelle Selesky scored 9.875s, and Tasha Schwikert closed the rotation with a meet-high tying 9.9 for a team score of 49.35. Alabama, meanwhile, scored 49.075 on the uneven bars, which enabled the Bruins to close the gap to .125, 98.4-98.275.

'Losing Ariana after the second rotation was hard,' said UCLA head coach Valorie Kondos Field. 'Ari is not only our leadoff, but she fuels us, and we always count on her to hit. Hopefull it's only an ankle sprain.'

In rotation three, Padilla filled in for Berlin on floor exercise and hit her routine for a season-best 9.625. Selesky, Ashley Jenkins and Peckett each added a 9.825. Jordan Schwikert contributed a 9.775, and Li finished with a team-best 9.85 for a final team score of 49.1. Several Bruins landed short on their opening tumbling passes and were deducted for that before rebounding with strong finishes. Alabama had a stellar night on the balance beam, hitting all six routines for 9.825 or higher, for a team score of 49.35, which increased its lead to .375 (147.75-147.375).

The Bruins had a fall in the leadoff position on balance beam, but again, the team rebounded well with five strong routines. Peckett steadied the ship with an outstanding routine, nailing her punch front mount and back tuck/back tuck combo for a season-high score of 9.8. Jenkins continued her hot streak on beam, also scoring 9.8. Jordan Schwikert worked a beautiful side somi and stuck gainer full dismount for a 9.825. Li delivered a beautiful routine and stuck her double twist dismount to score 9.875. Tasha Schwikert closed things out with a confident and precise routine that merited a 9.9, and UCLA finished with a 49.1 on beam. Alabama had a fall on floor to make things interesting, but freshman Morgan Dennis closed the meet with a 9.95, well above the 9.225 she needed to beat the Bruins, and the Tide finished with a 49.475 to claim the victory.

'On floor we played too cautiously and played not to lose,' said Kondos Field. 'We were trying to be too perfect, and you can't do that in this sport. We made that correction on beam and had a great rotation.'

Li won her second all-around competition of the season, scoring a 39.5 and also won uneven bars with a 9.925. Tasha Schwikert tied for first on vault and beam.

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