Feb. 12, 2000
THIS WEEK - The fifth-ranked UCLA Gymnastics team (10-4, 4-0 in the Pac-10), winners of five consecutive meets, will travel to Salt Lake City, UT for a Monday, Feb. 14 meet at nine-time NCAA champion and fourth-ranked Utah (4-1) at 7:00 pm MT in the Huntsman Center. The meet will be televised live by KJZZ in Salt Lake City. Live meet results will be posted on the internet at www.UtahUtes.com.
A LOOK AT UTAH - Nine-time NCAA champion Utah has taken major blows this season with long-term injuries to defending NCAA all-around champion Theresa Kulikowski (out for the season with a torn ACL) and All-American Shannon Bowles (will likely redshirt after fracturing a vertebrae). However, head coach Greg Marsden's Utes have maintained the No. 4 national ranking, averaging 196.085. Last Monday, the Utes scored a season-high 197.075 in a dual match win at Utah State. Deidra Graham ranks 11th nationally in the all-around with a 39.2312 average, and Denise Jones and Theresa Wolf are 16th and 17th, respectively.
UCLA HOPES TO BREAK "THE STREAK" - Utah holds an unprecedented 154-meet regular season home winning streak, a record for any sport. The last time the Utes lost a regular season home meet was 20 years ago on Feb. 20, 1979 to Cal State Fullerton. UCLA is also looking for its first-ever regular season win over Utah in 16 meets. The last time the two teams met head to head, UCLA won the Region I championship in 1999 at Corvallis, OR.
INJURY REPORT - Freshman Kristin Parker missed the Cal meet and is questionable for Monday with a thigh contusion and shin laceration. Freshman Carly Raab and sophomore Alison Stoner are out for the season with ACL injuries.
BRUINS TUNE UP FOR UTAH WITH 196.425 SCORE AT CAL - UCLA scored its fourth 196+ score of the season in a quad meet victory at Cal. UCLA's total of 196.425 easily outdistanced California, UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara. UCLA swept the Top 3 standings in the all-around, vault, floor and beam. The Bruins used the meet to rest some athletes and let other seldom-used gymnasts compete. In her second counting performance of the season, redshirt freshman Amy Young tied for ninth on beam with a career-high 9.6. Sophomore Lindsey Dong competed on vault for the first time and scored a 9.675 to place ninth. Sophomore Valerie Velasco competed on bars for the first time this season and tied for sixth with a 9.7, while sophomore tri-captain Stephanie Johnson competed on beam for the first time in her career. UCLA's 49.4 on vault was the fifth-best mark in school history.
MONEYMAKER BECOMES A HISTORY-MAKER - Bruin senior Heidi Moneymaker (Santa Rosa, Calif.) made history Friday night at Cal when she set a new school all-around record with a total of 39.775. Her total included a school-record tying 10.0 on vault, the first perfect mark in her career. Moneymaker also tied career-highs on bars (9.975) and floor (9.95) en route to a sweep of all four events and the all-around. The perfect 10 was just the fourth-ever perfect mark on vault by a Bruin and the ninth 10.0 on any event in school history. After her sweep of the four events and the all-around at Cal, Moneymaker now has 13 individual wins this season and 20 Top 3 finishes.
BRUINS SET SCHOOL RECORD WITH 197.8 - UCLA set school records for overall score (197.8, also a Pac-10 record), bars (49.7) and floor (49.625) in a dual meet victory against Stanford Feb. 6. Sixteen individual career highs were set or tied in the meet. Mohini Bhardwaj won the all-around for the fourth consecutive meet, tallying a career-high and Pauley Pavilion record-tying 39.725 (second-highest score in school history). Freshman Onnie Willis also tied a Pauley Pavilion record with a 9.975 on bars. The Bruins swept the Top 5 standings in the all-around, with Bhardwaj first, Heidi Moneymaker second (season-high 39.6), Lena Degteva and Willis third (39.525) and Kristin Parker fifth (career-high 39.1). UCLA hit 24 for 24 for the second time this season.
BRUINS RAISE THE BAR - The Bruins not only set a new school record on bars Feb. 6 with a 49.7 out of 50, but they broke the old record by .175. Freshman Doni Thompson started the record-setting set with a career-high 9.925. Onnie Willis followed with her 9.975. Kristin Parker and Lena Degteva followed that with career-highs of 9.925. Heidi Moneymaker's 9.85 was thrown out when Mohini Bhardwaj finished the set with a career-high 9.95. The Bruins averaged 9.925 in their six routines. Three Bruins have scored 9.975 this season - Willis Feb. 6 and Moneymaker and Bhardwaj Feb. 11.
POTENT ALL-AROUNDERS - An impressive six Bruins have scored 39+ in the all-around this season. Heidi Moneymaker has scored 39+ in her last four meets, going 39.0, 39.5, 39.6 and 39.775. Mohini Bhardwaj has gone 39+ in all six UCLA meets with a season-best of 39.725 Feb. 6. Lena Degteva has scored 39+ in her last three meets competing all-around, with marks of 39.35, 39.4 and 39.525. In her only all-around appearance this season, Onnie Willis scored 39.525 Feb. 6. Kristin Parker has scored 39.05 and 39.1 in her last two all-around meets, and Malia Jones broke the 39 barrier last Friday with a 39.05.
BHARDWAJ CONTINUES IMPRESSIVE SEASON - Junior All-American Mohini Bhardwaj (Cincinnati, Ohio) has lit it up this season. Bhardwaj has won the all-around at four of UCLA's last five meets (placed second in UCLA's last meet) and has been the Bruins' highest all-around scorer in five meets. She holds the third-highest all-around total in school history, a 39.725 set Feb. 6 against Stanford. The January UCLA/Sarah Leonard Fine Jewelers Female Athlete of the Month leads the team with 15 individual wins and has 26 out of 30 Top 3 placings.
DEGTEVA IS MODEL OF CONSISTENCY - Senior Lena Degteva has quietly become one of UCLA's most consistent athletes this season. The eight-time All-American has three wins this season and 14 Top 3 placings, but it is her overall numbers that have been most impressive. Degteva is averaging 9.865 on both bars and floor, 9.821 on vault and 9.619 on beam. Her all-around average is 39.206. After falling on beam in her first routine of the season at the Super Six Challenge, Degteva has hit 19 of 19 routines, with no score lower than 9.725.
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 the most difficult vault being performed at the collegiate level - a handspring front layout with a half-twist, on which she scored a perfect 10.0 at Cal Feb. 11.
BRUIN VAULTERS RAISE DIFFICULTY LEVEL - Heidi Moneymaker is not the only Bruin doing high-level vaults - add freshman Kristin Parker to that mix. Parker successfully completed a handspring front layout with a half-twist (worth a 9.9 in the FIG international elite code) Feb. 6, scoring a 9.75. Mohini Bhardwaj has been competing a Yurchenko layout with 1 1/2 twists (worth a 9.8 in the FIG international elite code) since her freshman season.
FRESHMEN MAKING STRONG IMPRESSIONS - UCLA's highly-touted freshman class have made strong impressions in their first five collegiate meets. This week's Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week Onnie Willis (Tacoma, Wash.) has four victories this season, winning floor twice, vault once and bars once. Willis averages 9.829 on vault and 9.85 on floor and has four Top 3 showings on floor this season. Doni Thompson (Olympia, Wash.) averages 9.713 on beam in the leadoff position with two third-place showings and also averages 9.75 on floor. Malia Jones (Sparks, Nev.), who has hit 20 of 21 routines, set a career-high in the all-around last Friday with a 39.05 and is averaging 9.808 on the floor and 9.742 on vault. Kristin Parker (Hanford, Calif.) has hit 16 of 17 routines and is averaging 39.042 in the all-around and over 9.725 on vault, beam and floor.
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 due to a torn ACL (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 hit 14 of 15 routines this season.
IN THE RANKINGS - In the latest rankings, dated Feb. 8 (Friday's scores not included), fifth-ranked UCLA holds the No. 1 position on the floor exercise with a 49.29 average. The Bruins are also second on vault (49.09), fourth on bars (49.08) and 10th on beam (48.52). Individually, five Bruins are ranked in the all-around, with Onnie Willis third (39.525), Mohini Bhardwaj tied for fifth (39.375), Lena Degteva 13th (39.2062), Heidi Moneymaker 18th (39.0812) and Kristin Parker 23rd (39.0417). Moneymaker and Bhardwaj are tied for fourth on floor with a 9.9 average, followed by Degteva at 13th (9.865). Degteva ranks fourth on bars with a 9.9 average, followed by Bhardwaj at 17th (9.85). Four Bruins are ranked on vault - No. 9 Bhardwaj (9.9), No. 15 Moneymaker (9.84), No. 17 Willis (9.825) and No. 22 Degteva (9.815).
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 the trio 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.