Gymnasts Ready for Saturday's NCAA Regional

April 13, 2007

BERKELEY - One day before the start of the NCAA West Regional hosted by California, all six teams, including No. 6 Nebraska, No. 7 Utah, No. 18 Missouri, Washington, Sacramento State and the Golden Bears plus nine individual gymnasts, practiced at Haas Pavilion.

All the athletes are vying to qualify for the NCAA Championships, which Utah hosts April 26-28 in Salt Lake City.

Missouri coach Rob Drass touched on the amount of top 10 talent converging on the regional.

'Obviously, with No. 6 and No. 7 and with Utah and Nebraska being here that poses a challenge,' he said. 'But I think we match up well and we will go out and have a solid meet. I think we can get a good run at this thing and see where we stand at the end. All our focus is going to be on us and just hitting our routines and seeing where we stand at the end.'

Some of the athletes on display on Friday are among the top gymnasts in the nation. Nebraska's Emily Parsons is the early favorite on the balance beam, as the Cornhuskers junior ranks No. 1 national in the event. Parsons and Utah junior Ashley Postell are the favorites for the all-around title in the regional, as Parsons also ranks second nationally on the vault and third on the floor exercise, while Postell ranks ninth in the all-around. Utah senior Nicholle Ford, who ranks 14th nationally in the all-around, is another threat in the event.

Other gymnasts to watch include Missouri's Adrianne Perry, the 10th-best all-around competitor in the West region, and Washington's Ashley Houghting. The latter, who tied for the Pac-10 title in the vault, ranks fifth nationally in that apparatus.

Not to be outdone, Cal will look for stellar performances in its home gym. Bears sophomore Jessica Kelly has some momentum coming into the meet, after taking 16th in the all-around at the Pac-10 Championships a week after posting a career-high 39.450 to win the all-around at the UC Davis Quad Meet. Senior Isabel Garcia could make an impact on the vault in her last competition at Haas Pavilion, as she ranks No. 17 on the vault in the West region.

Huskers coach Dan Kendig spoke about the big picture.

'One person is not going to win this thing,' he said. 'It's going to be a total team effort, and that's what we're looking for - the whole team to be in the same place, to clear the clutter from their heads. The only way it's going to happen is if everyone is on that same page.'

The NCAA West Regional begins at 6 p.m. at Haas. Tickets for the NCAA West Regional are still available. To purchase prior to the event call 1-800-GO-BEARS or check out Tickets will also be sold at the door, two hours prior to the competition thru the fourth rotation.

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