UCLA Places Fourth At NCAA Prelims, Tasha Schwikert Wins Second Career All-Around Title

April 24, 2008

Athens, GA - UCLA finished in fourth place in the evening session of the 2008 NCAA Women's Gymnastics Team Preliminaries with a score of 196.725, just .225 out of second place and .175 out of third place. The Bruins' score would have put them in second place in the afternoon preliminary session. UCLA senior Tasha Schwikert reclaimed the NCAA all-around title that she won as a freshman, scoring a 39.6 to bookmark her career with all-around titles. She becomes the first UCLA gymnast ever to win two career NCAA all-around championships.

The Bruins had one of its highest marks of the season, but in a packed session, they were squeezed out of a spot in the Super Six by Georgia (197.625), Utah (196.95) and Stanford (196.9).

UCLA began the event on the uneven bars and hit its best bar set of the season, scoring 49.475 to take an early lead. Ariana Berlin got her team off to a solid start with a 9.775, and the Bruins followed it up with five straight routines with stuck dismounts. Shavahn Church hit beautiful handstands, got huge height on her toe-on hecht to the high bar and stuck her double tuck dismount for a career-high 9.875. Jordan Schwikert effortlessly stuck a full pirouette to double pike and scored 9.85. Kristina Comforte and Tasha Schwikert each stuck their double layout dismounts to score 9.9s, and Anna Li closed it out with a huge Tkatchev and stuck double layout for a 9.95 score. Georgia scored 49.35 on beam to finish the first rotation in second place, while Stanford totaled 49.175 on floor, and Denver earned 48.625 on vault.

The Bruins had to fight for a 48.8 on balance beam in rotation two after a fall and a low-scored routine. Berlin started off with a 9.8, but Niki Tom was not credited by half of the judging panel for connection on her flight series and ended up with a 9.55. After a long wait to perform, Jordan Schwikert ended up falling on her flight series. Comforte picked the Bruins back up again with a 9.85, and Tasha Schwikert added a 9.825. Li needed to hit her routine to minimize the damage and did just that with a 9.775 to give the Bruins a team score of 48.8 and a two-event total of 98.275 that dropped UCLA behind Stanford, which scored 49.2 on vault for a two-event score of 98.375. Utah started competition strong with a 49.3 on bars, while Michigan scored 49.1 on floor.

With UCLA and Stanford on byes, the other teams finished up their second events. Georgia's 49.4 on floor boosted the Gym Dogs to first place at the halfway mark with a 98.75, followed by a trio of teams with one-tenth of a point difference - Stanford (98.375), Utah (98.35) and UCLA (98.275). Michigan was also close behind in fifth with a 98.05.

The Bruins were, however, moving to the event that has given them the most trouble all year, and with Tasha Schwikert a question mark due to her Achilles injury, not to mention a cold, UCLA was facing an uphill climb. Berlin started off with one of her best floor routines of the year, scoring a season-high tying 9.85, but a stumble on her last pass left Mizuki Sato with just a 9.35. Jordan Schwikert scored 9.85, and Li scored 9.75 after being deducted a tenth for barely going out of bounds on her double layout. Tasha Schwikert shrugged off her Achilles injury to score a 9.925, throwing her full difficulty. Ashley Jenkins finished the set for the Bruins and stumbled forward a little on her last pass but hit one of her best routines of the year for a 9.825, putting UCLA at 49.2 on the event and 147.475 after three events. Georgia and Stanford each remained ahead of the Bruins after scoring 49.375 on vault and 49.325 on bars, respectively.

UCLA finished its meet on vault, and Berlin once again had a huge routine to lead off, sticking her Yurchenko full vault with ease for a 9.85. The Bruins also received scores of 9.825 from Jordan Schwikert, 9.9 from Comforte and 9.95 from Tasha Schwikert to lead the way to a total of 49.25 and a final team score of 196.725.

With Stanford finishing ahead of UCLA with a 196.9, the Bruins had to sit and wait to see if their score would be enough to qualify. Utah needed to score 49.2 on vault to pass UCLA, and the Utes' Postell needed to score 9.925 to tie Tasha Schwikert for the all-around title. Utah scored 49.4 to overtake the Bruins, but Postell scored just 9.875 to finish just shy of first-place in the all-around.

'Honestly, I am shocked I won,' said Schwikert. 'Our sports information director came back into our locker room and was looking at me and I said, `What?' and she said, `You won.' All I could think was no way. I've been through a lot of pain this year with my Achilles, but tonight I came into the meet with a team focus about getting my team to the next round. I definitely wasn't ready for them to announce that I had won the individual championship. This one is bittersweet to win on my last meet, but I would exchange that for my team to get to the next round in a heartbeat.'

Joining Georgia (197.625), Utah (196.950) and Stanford (196.900) in the Super Six on Friday are Session I qualifiers Florida (196.900), Alabama (196.650) and LSU (196.575).

Final Team Standings - Preliminaries Session II
1. Georgia 197.625, 2. Utah 196.950, 3. Stanford 196.900, 4. UCLA 196.725, 5. Michigan 196.075, 6. Denver 194.200

Final All-Around (Both Sessions)
1. Tasha Schwikert (UCLA) - 39.6; 2. Ashley Postell (Utah) - 39.55; 3t. Katie Heenan (UGA), Tiffany Tolnay (UGA), Kristina Baskett (Utah), Melanie Sinclair (FL) - 39.525

Vault Event Finalists (Session II)
Tasha Schwikert (UCLA), Marcia Newby (UGA), Kristina Baskett (Utah) - 9.95; Kristina Comforte (UCLA), Katie Heenan (UGA), Julie Dwyer (Auburn), Kyndal Robarts (Utah) - 9.9

Bars Event Finalists (Session II)
Anna Li (UCLA), Kristina Baskett (Utah) - 9.95; Grace Taylor (UGA) - 9.925; Tasha Schwikert (UCLA), Kristina Comforte (UCLA), Ashley Postell (Utah), Liz Tricase (STAN), Tabitha Yim (STAN), Desire' Snyiatinski (Neb), Becky Bernard (Mich), Kylee Botterman (Mich), Nikki Childs (UGA), Tiffany Tolnay (UGA), Katie Heenan (UGA) - 9.9

Beam Event Finalists (Session II)
Katie Heenan (UGA) - 9.95; Grace Taylor (UGA), Tabitha Yim (STAN) - 9.9; Nicole Ourada (STAN), Ashley Postell (Utah), Tiffany Tolnay (UGA) - 9.875

Floor Event Finalists (Session II)
Tasha Schwikert (UCLA), Tiffany Tolnay (UGA) - 9.925; Ashley Postell (Utah), Kristina Baskett (Utah), Courtney McCool (UGA), Cassidy McComb (UGA) - 9.9

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