GymDawgs Begin Three-Week Road Swing At No. 21 Arizona
March 3, 2010
Washington vs. No. 21 Arizona
Friday, March 5, 7 p.m.
McKale Center, Tucson, Ariz.
The Washington gymnastics squad (4-8) begins a three-meet road swing to end the 2010 regular season this Friday, March 5 at 7 p.m. at No. 21 Arizona (4-6). The Huskies, who have been at home for six of the first eight weeks of the season, will now head into the home stretch looking to solidify their Regional Qualifying Score in hopes of earning a berth in the NCAA postseason.
A live webcast will be available for the meet through the University of Arizona's All-Access media player. For the webcast and live results, go to www.arizonawildcats.com.
The Huskies were strong in their final home meet of the season, defeating Seattle Pacific but falling to No. 8 Arkansas, the sixth top-10 to compete in Bank of America this season. While the Huskies didn't have their best performance of the season, scoring a 194.100, they had some solid individual performances, including junior Samantha Walior who recorded a season-high 9.900 on bars to win the event. It was Walior's third event win of the year and first on bars. Kristen Linton was right behind her in second with a 9.875 while Haley Bogart finished third on vault and fourth on floor with a 9.825 on each event.
Huskies in the Rankings
The Huskies were ranked 23rd two weeks ago, the final rankings released based on event scores. Starting last week, teams are now ranked based on their Regional Qualifying Score, which the Huskies do not yet qualify for because they have competed in just two away meets. Teams need at least three home and away meets to receive an RQS. Following this week's meet at Arizona, UW should appear in the rankings again.
The Huskies had moved up one spot to No. 23 after a then-season-high score of 195.425 against No. 24 Arizona State. The Huskies had been ranked No. 24 the three weeks prior but their first score over 195.000 was enough to bump them up the rankings. UW has reached a high of No. 19 this season, which they garnered after a strong opening-week performance against No. 11 Nebraska. UW opened the season in the top-25 for the first time since 2006, coming in at No. 25.
The Wildcats are coming off a big performance in Lincoln, Neb., where UA took on No. 11 Nebraska, No. 19 Denver and then-No. 25 West Virginia in a quad-meet and came away with a second-place finish. The Cats shined on vault and bars, with senior Sarah Tomczyk tying for first on both events with identical 9.850 scores.
For the season, Arizona has earned victories over Pac-10 foes Arizona State and California, recording a high of 195.675 against the Sun Devils.
About the Series
Arizona leads the series, 29-20-1, but the Huskies won the last meeting between the teams last year in Seattle on UW's senior night when Arizona was ranked No. 21 in the nation. The Huskies scored what was a season-high at the time for them with 195.150 to earn a half-point victory and snap a three-meet losing skid to the GymCats. Washington won titles in every event, with senior Ashley Houghting earning two first-place finishes. Sophomore Kristen Linton and Samantha Walior each chalked up wins for the Huskies as well.
Coming On Strong
While the Huskies slipped a bit last week against Arkansas and Seattle Pacific, the GymDawgs have been coming on strong over the last three weeks, recording their overall season-best score as well as posting season bests on all four events. UW is hoping to carry that momentum over to their final three road meets where they hope to post high scores to help their RQS.
Things started clicking for UW three weeks ago against Arizona State when they posted their first score of 195 or better despite a narrow loss to the Sun Devils. In that meet, the Huskies also recorded their first event scores of 49.000 or better, earning a 49.000 on vault and a 49.025 on floor, both of which are still season highs. The next week, UW topped their best team score in a win over Cal, registering a 195.625, their best since a 196.000 last season in a win over Oregon State. UW also reached season bests on bars (49.025) and beam (48.850) in the victory.
Hats On Her Way to Stellar Season
Though she's only a sophomore, Hatsune Akaogi has been one of the leaders of the Husky squad this year. The only GymDawg to compete in the all-around in all eight events, Akaogi has won the all-around outright once, scoring a career-best 39.225 against Cal, while also tying UCLA All-American Anna Li for first in UW's dual meet against the Bruins. The California native has also won once on beam this year, posting a 9.825 against Cal. Showing her consistency and all-around talent, Akaogi has been UW's team leader on all four events at least once during the season, leading the squad on vault, beam and bars twice each while also leading once on floor.
Where she has been her most consistent has been floor exercise, where she has scored a career-best 9.800 twice and a 9.775 five times. The only time she dipped below a 9.775 was a 9.725 against Arizona State. She has also been solid on vault, recording a 9.800 four times. Her highest score on any event this year - and in her career - was a 9.850, which she earned on bars against UCLA and Cal. She had a solid meet at Stanford as well, recording three 9.800s, which came on vault, bars and floor.
Sam the Ma'am
Junior Samantha Walior proved again last week that she's one of the most dangerous performers in the conference, winning her third event on three different apparatus after taking the bars with a 9.900 to establish a new career high. Walior's first 9.900 of the season gives her three 9.900s in her career, one each on bars, beam and floor. While bothered by a heel injury lately and a knee injury for months, the Minnesota native continues to put up solid scores week in and week out. She has been at her best on beam, scoring a 9.800 or better four times, including a season best 9.850 against Utah. She has also been solid on floor, where she's also scored 9.800 or better four times, topping out at 9.850 twice, including a win against Arizona State three weeks ago.
More Junior Power
Samantha Walior isn't the only UW junior having a solid season. Since there are no senior on this year's squad, the junior have had to step up and lead the way and both Haley Bogart and Kristen Linton have done just that. Bogart has been incredibly consistent across the board on her three events - vault, beam and floor - scoring at least a 9.800 on floor five times in eight events while scoring a 9.775 or better on vault in six of eight events. She has won two events, scoring a season-best 9.875 on vault to earn her second win of the season after winning floor with a 9.850 against Arizona State.
Linton, meanwhile, is tied with Walior for the team lead with three event wins this year. She's won twice on floor, recording a season-high 9.850 against Arizona State and making it back-to-back wins the next week against California with a 9.825. She also set a career-high and recorded her first-ever 9.900 on bars against Cal to earn two victories in the meet. The Huskies' fourth junior, Karen Cain, has also come on strong lately. After not competing in the first two meets, she has appeared on vault and floor four times over the last six weeks, gradually improving her scores each time. She had season highs of 9.700 on vault against Cal and 9.725 on floor last week against Arkansas and Seattle Pacific.
Rookies Making an Impact
The Huskies are a young team, boasting a roster with no seniors. WIth four juniors and four sophomores, UW has had to rely some on their five freshmen this year and they have come through. Two of those freshmen, Paige Bixler and Phoebe Tham, have set the tone for the Huskies in the leadoff position on their respective events, with Bixler being a consistent force on beam and Tham leading the way on bars. Though Bixler has stumbled a bit the last couple weeks, she's been steady all season, scoring at least 9.600 in each of the first six weeks with a high of 9.750 against UCLA.
Tham, meanwhile, has been getting better and better on bars, bouncing back from a slow first meet to record at least a 9.600 in each of the last seven meets. Her best routine came last week against Arkansas and Seattle Pacific when she set a season high with a 9.750, a night when she also made her debut on floor and also recorded a 9.750. Lauren Rogers has also been a key contributer on vault, receiving a pair of 9.800s and also earning a career-best 9.875 against Arizona State. She has also scored well on bars and floor where she is consistently in the 9.700-9.725 range.