Jan. 31, 2000
THIS WEEK -- The fifth-ranked UCLA Gymnastics team (6-4, 2-0 in the Pac-10), winners of three consecutive meets, will host 10th-ranked Stanford (4-1, 2-1) Sunday, Feb. 6 at Pauley Pavilion at 2:00 pm. The promotional theme for the meet is "Flashback to the 80's." Free candy necklaces, candy rings and lip balm will be distributed to the first 500 fans in attendance.
A LOOK AT STANFORD -- The Cardinal are currently ranked No. 10 and turned in a season-high score of 195.05 in edging Washington last Friday. Senior Larissa Fontaine scored a Pac-10 season-high 39.525 in the all-around and turned in a career-best 9.95 on floor. Stanford, coached by former UCLA assistant Mark Cook, won the Pac-10 title in 1998.
LAST WEEK -- UCLA recorded a season-high 196.65 in its home opener to defeat Arizona State by over five points. The Bruins swept the Top 4 all-around standings, with Heidi Moneymaker and Mohini Bhardwaj tying for first place with a 39.5. Lena Degteva was third with a season-best 39.4, and Malia Jones was fourth with a 38.825. For the third consecutive meet, UCLA gymnasts won all four events. This time, Degteva won the vault and tied with Moneymaker on bars, while Bhardwaj won the beam and floor.
BHARDWAJ SHINES FOR BRUINS -- Junior All-American Mohini Bhardwaj (Cincinnati, Ohio) has shown why she was tabbed by head coach Valorie Kondos as the "most talented gymnast we've ever had at UCLA." Bhardwaj has won the all-around at UCLA's last three meets and has been the Bruins' highest all-around scorer in all four meets. Last weekend, she set a new career-high by scoring a 39.5. She leads the team with 10 individual wins and has 16 out of 20 Top 3 placings. Her season-highs this season are 9.875 on vault, 9.95 on bars and 9.925 on beam and floor.
ALL-AMERICANS LEAD BRUIN SQUAD -- Along with Mohini Bhardwaj, senior All-Americans Heidi Moneymaker and Lena Degteva have been the backbone of the 2000 Bruin squad. Moneymaker has six individual wins and 11 Top 3 finishes. She is averaging 38.908 in the all-around and 9.8+ on vault and floor. Degteva has three wins this season and nine Top 3 placings. She is averaging 39.1 in the all-around and 9.8+ on vault, bars and floor.
DEFENDING NCAA VAULT CHAMPION IMPROVES STATUS -- At a time when many collegiate gymnasts are struggling to compete one 10.0 start value vault, reigning NCAA vault champion Heidi Moneymaker has not one, not two but THREE 10.0 vaults in her repertoire. She has competed a handspring front pike with a half-twist, a Phelps and now a handspring front layout with a half-twist.
FRESHMEN MAKING STRONG IMPRESSIONS -- UCLA's highly-touted freshman class have made strong impressions in their first four collegiate meets. Onnie Willis (Tacoma, Wash.) has two victories this season, winning the vault at Arizona and floor at Cal State Fullerton. Willis averages 9.819 on vault and 9.813 on floor. Doni Thompson (Olympia, Wash.) averages 9.775 on bars and 9.725 on beam with two third-place showings on beam. Malia Jones (Sparks, Nev.) has placed fourth in the all-around in her last three meets and is averaging 9.788 on the floor. Kristin Parker (Hanford, Calif.) recorded a 9.825 on bars at the Super Six Challenge and tied for third on beam at Arizona with a 9.8. Parker recorded a new career-high all-around score of 39.05 to place second at CS Fullerton.
YOUNG BRUINS GAINING EXPERIENCE -- The youthful Bruins have used the early part of the season to gain experience. UCLA returns just six athletes who competed a year ago and only four who competed at the NCAA Championships. Prior to the start of the season, UCLA had one athlete who had not competed in four years (Doni Thompson), one who had not competed in two years (Amy Young) and another who had not competed in one year (Onnie Willis).
THE COMEBACK KID -- Freshman Doni Thompson (Olympia, Wash.) not only made her collegiate debut Jan. 8 at the Super Six Challenge, but she also competed in her first meet in four and a half years. The former U.S. National Team member retired from gymnastics in 1995 after winning gold medals at the Pan American Games (team) and USA Championships (beam) and a bronze at the World Championships (team). She returned in 1998 but had not competed since the 1995 World Championships. Thompson showed little signs of rust, scoring a 9.8 on bars and a 9.775 on floor. She was also the only Bruin to stay on the beam, scoring a 9.525. Thompson has scored no lower than 9.775 on beam in her last three meets and has two third-place showings. She has hit 10 of 10 routines this season.
THE COMEBACK KID 2 -- Redshirt freshman Amy Young also returned to competition after a lengthy absence. A torn ACL in her left knee kept her out of competition in 1998, and she re-tore it during pre-season practice a year ago, forcing her to redshirt the 1999 season. Young competed for the first time since 1997, leading off the Bruins on beam at the Super Six Challenge. She scored a 9.525 in an exhibition routine last weekend.
HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER VACATION ... -- All-Americans Heidi Moneymaker (Santa Rosa, Calif.), Lena Degteva (Mississauga, Ont.) and Mohini Bhardwaj competed in the 1999 World University Games during the summer, with Moneymaker and Bhardwaj representing the United States and Degteva representing Canada. Degteva, an eight-time All-American and currently ranked No. 17 in the all-around and floor, No. 9 on bars and No. 20 on vault, finished 13th in the all-around finals. Eight-time All-American Moneymaker, the defending NCAA vault champion, the 1998 NCAA bars champion and the 10th-ranked collegiate gymnast on floor and vault, placed 16th but was ninth all-around during team competition. Bhardwaj, a five-time All-American, qualified for the all-around finals but had to withdraw due to injury. In addition to competing at the World University Games, Moneymaker competed at her first-ever USA Championships, where she placed 21st.
ROSTER UPDATE -- Freshman Carly Raab (Seattle, Wash.), who was a Top 10 all-around finisher at the 1998 Level 10 Championships, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee in November and will redshirt the 2000 season. Sophomore Alison Stoner (Laguna Hills, Calif.) tore ligaments in her knee while competing on floor at the NCAA Championships in April and will also sit out the 2000 season. Freshman Sarah Deegan (Oshawa, Ont.) has retired from the sport and moved back to Canada to attend school there. Kaitie Dyson, a freshman in 1999, injury-retired from gymnastics due to back injuries. Dyson will serve as an undergraduate assistant coach for the Bruins.
UCLA AGAIN SIGNS TOP RECRUITING CLASS -- UCLA head coach Valorie Kondos signed in 1999 what was considered to be the greatest recruiting class in the history of the sport. This year, she one-upped that by signing an even more impressive group of recruits.
Kondos signed three 1999 World Championships competitors and 2000 Olympic hopefuls to national letters of intent in November and reaffirmed commitments with two other Olympic hopefuls who originally signed letters of intent a year ago. The three signed this year are five-time U.S. National Team member Jeanette Antolin (Huntington Beach, Calif./SCATS), 1999 U.S. bars champion Jamie Dantzscher (Palmdale, Calif./Charter Oaks Gliders) and 1996 Olympian and 1999 Canadian vault and floor champion Yvonne Tousek (Cambridge, Ont./Cambridge Kips).
Joining Antolin, Dantzscher and Tousek in the freshman class of 2001 will be two-time defending national all-around champion Kristen Maloney (Allentown, PA/Parkettes/Pen Argyl HS) and 1999 World Championships qualifier Alyssa Beckerman (Middletown, NJ/Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy/Wyoming HS), who originally signed letters of intent a year ago and deferred enrollment until after the 2000 Olympics. Maloney and Beckerman signed new grant-in-aids forms for the 2000-2001 school year.