Akaogi Ties For All-Around Title Against No. 1 UCLA

Jan. 15, 2010

SEATTLE - Led by big performances by Hatsune Akaogi and Samantha Walior for the second straight week, the Washington women's gymnastics team continued to show promise for one of their best seasons in recent history, setting a season-high score in a 196.125-194.875 defeat at the hands of No. 1 UCLA.

The Huskies set season bests on three of their four events with Akaogi tying for first in the all-around and Walior finishing in the top-four in two events. UW had their best performance as a team on bars after a sluggish performance last week, breaking out with a score of 48.850. In just their second meet of the season, the Huskies reached a score it took them nine weeks to reach last season on the event.

'(UCLA's) Anna Li is one of the top all-arounders in the country and she's a senior so for Hatsune to tie with her is awesome. She's showing great consistency for us,' head coach Joanne Bowers said of the sophomore from Cupertino, Calif. 'As a freshman last year, she was pretty inconsistent competing so you never quite knew what you were going to get but this year we talked about getting her routines done early. She's so talented and has such a big repertoire of tricks that we couldn't figure out what would work and we changed around her routines a lot. We figured out what worked at the end of last year and had her routine down in September so she had so much time to work on it and it has really paid off.'

After starting slow on vault in their season opener against No. 3 Nebraska, the Huskies came out strong against the nation's top team, totaling 48.675 compared to 48.225 last Friday. Akaogi and Lauren Rogers led the way, both setting new career highs with 9.800 scores. Haley Bogart followed with a 9.775 and the Huskies trailed after the first rotation, 49.150-48.675.

The GymDawgs continued to perform well in their next rotation on bars, improving their score by nearly a full point from last week. Akaogi set another career-best and led the way with a 9.850, tying for second on the event. Four of the five Huskies scored a 9.725 or better, including Amanda Cline and Rogers with scores of 9.725 and Kristen Linton with a 9.750. Walior then closed out the rotation with a 9.800 and the Huskies score of 48.850 was well above their score of 47.900 last week.

In the third rotation, the Huskies continued to improve their scores, compiling a 48.650 on beam. Paige Bixler started things off with a 9.750, one of three Huskies to record that score on the event. Akaogi and Bogart also recorded 9.750 while Walior topped them all with a 9.800, the fourth-best of the night.

In the final rotation, the Huskies scored a 48.700, led by Walior who nailed her high-energy routine for the second straight week, earning a 9.825. Akaogi tied another career high with a 9.775 and Bogart recorded a 9.775. Walior's score earned her a tie for third in the event.

The Huskies, who had a total score of 194.450 last week which ranked 19th in the nation, would have ranked 13th after one week with their Friday total of 194.875.

'We were surprised last week on bars that we didn't do as well but we chalked it up to first meet jitters,' Bowers said. 'What we did was right after the meet, we knew they would kick themselves, so the very first thing we did on Monday was give them a second chance. We did a team bars in practice right after warm-ups and just changed two kids around, putting Phoebe Tham first, and we had an exhibition and they hit seven in a row. It was the most spirited practice we had in a while. We had to remind them that they know they can do this and today wasn't a surprise because we know that's what they're capable of.'

Following two home meets to open the season, the GymDawgs will hit the road next week first the first time to face yet another top-five team. The Huskies will travel south to take on No. 5 Oregon State, Friday, Jan. 22 at 7 p.m.

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