Bowers Named Pac-10 Gymnastics Co-Coach of the Year

April 2, 2007

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. - Washington head coach Joanne Bowers and Stanford's Kristen Smyth have been named Pac-10 Co-Coaches of the Year by a vote of league coaches, commissioner Tom Hansen announced Monday. The honor is the first for Bowers, who is in her first year at Washington, and the third such honor for Smyth.

Bowers is the third UW coach to earn the Pac-10's highest honor, joining two-time recipients Bob Levesque (1997-98) and Bob Ito (1984. 1986). The first-year UW head coach directed a remarkable turnaround of the Washington program, leading the Huskies to fifth-place at Saturday's Pac-10 Championships and a berth at next week's NCAA West Regional meet.

Prior to arriving at Washington last summer, Bowers served five seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Michigan, helping the Wolverines to five-consecutive NCAA Championships appearances. She has also served as an asssistant coach at Kent State, and was the head coach at Illinois State from 1990-93.

Bowers is just the third Pac-10 coach ever to earn confernece Coach of the Year honors in their debut season, joining UCLA's Valerie Kondos Field (1995) and Cal's Cari DuBois (2003), each of whom were also named Pac-10 Co-Coaches of the Year in their first seasons at their respective schools.

'It's such an honor for us to be recognized as a staff in this conference,' said Bowers, who is joined on the UW coaching staff by assistants David McCreary and Shanne Duggan. 'We've all worked so hard -- the coaches, the gymnasts, the trainers; you can't win an award like this on your own, it's a program-wide effort. This is an outstanding conference with great coaches and terrific gymnasts, so for the other coaches in the league to feel strongly enough to recognize us as a team for the work we're doing to turn this program around and boost the profile of the conference just means so much.'

After going just 7-21 a year ago and failing to qualify for regionals for the first time in the program's 31-year history, and losing its top all-arounder to graduation, Washington has been ranked consistently among the nation's top-30 programs in 2007, and has posted six scores above 194.000 after failing to do so even once in 2006.

Sophomore Ashley Houghting on Saturday became the first Washington gymnast since 2004 to win a Pac-10 title, sharing conference honors on vault with UCLA's Tasha Schwikert after both scored a 9.950 on the event. Houghting's win was part of a team-wide outstanding effort that led the Huskies to a score of 194.775, their highest at the Pac-10 meet since 2004 and good for a fifth-place finish and an upset of No. 25 Arizona State.

Houghting and her UW teammates will be one of six teams at next Saturday's NCAA West Regional meet in Berkeley, Calif., where the top-two team finishers will earn automatic berths to the NCAA Championships, Apr. 26 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Nebraska, Utah, Missouri, Sacramento State and host Cal will join the Huskies in Berkeley.

For more information on Washington gymnastics, visit

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