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Gymnastics Hosts 23rd Annual UCLA Invitational
Courtesy: UCLA Athletics  
Release:  02/17/2000

Feb. 17, 2000

THIS WEEK -- The fifth-ranked UCLA Gymnastics team (10-5, 4-0 in the Pac-10), winners of five of its last six meets, will host 24th-ranked Oregon State, 22nd-ranked Cal State Fullerton and San Jose State in the 23rd Annual UCLA Invitational on Sunday, Feb. 20 in Pauley Pavilion. Meet time is set for 2:00 pm. Scores will be posted online at the end of each rotation at www.uclabruins.com.

ALUMNI REUNION -- Over 60 UCLA Gymnastics alumni will be reunited at the meet on Sunday. There will be a pre-meet social, open to the public, in the Chancellor's Room of Pauley Pavilion starting at 11:30. The $10 entrance fee, which can be purchased at the door, includes food and a ticket to the meet.

WIN A HAWAIIAN VACATION!-- A six-day, seven-night stay for two at the Doubletree Alana Waikiki Hotel with airfare courtesy of Delta Airlines will be given away at the meet. Fans can sign up at the entrance gates to enter the drawing for the Hawaiian vacation.

UCLA INVITATIONAL HISTORY -- UCLA will be seeking its unprecedented ninth consecutive Invitational victory. The Bruins have won this meet a record 13 times. Only four other teams have ever won the Invitational, and two of those teams are back for this year's meet - 1991 winner Oregon State and three-time winner (1977, 1979, 1985) Cal State Fullerton. Utah (1980-1983) and Arizona State (1986) are the only other Invitational winners. A UCLA gymnast has won the all-around in the last three Invitationals. Bruin senior Lena Degteva returns to defend her all-around, bars, beam and floor titles. Heidi Moneymaker is also back to defend her vault crown.

A LOOK AT THE FIELD -- In keeping with the alumni weekend, it's only fitting that Oregon State is one of the participants in the Invitational, as the Beavers are coached by former Bruin great Tanya (Service) Chaplin, a two-time Pac-10 Gymnast of the Year and a five-time Pac-10 champion. Oregon State last weekend scored a season-best 196.275 in a home win over Arizona. The Beavers are led by Lara Degenhardt, the defending Pac-10 floor champion and Katrina Severin, who currently ranks 14th nationally on vault. Cal State Fullerton set a new school record last weekend at home in defeating San Jose State 195.5-191.275. The Titans are led by 1996 Australian Olympian Joanna Hughes, who ranks 21st nationally on bars with a 9.8375 average, and sophomore Melissa Lewis, who ranks 24th on beam with a 9.8 average. The Spartans' score at their meet at Fullerton was the 10th highest in school history, and sophomore Tasya Talbot set a new school record on floor with a 9.9.

INJURY REPORT -- Freshman Kristin Parker missed the two meets last week with a thigh contusion and shin laceration but could see limited action Sunday. Junior Mohini Bhardwaj will undergo a minor surgical procedure this week and will miss the next two meets. Freshman Carly Raab and sophomore Alison Stoner are out for the season with ACL injuries.

LAST WEEK -- The Bruins had two meets last weekend, winning a quad meet at Cal with a total of 196.425 and dropping a dual at Utah with a score of 195.15 to Utah's 196.35. At Cal, UCLA swept the Top 3 standings in the all-around, vault, floor and beam, with Heidi Moneymaker winning all four events and the all-around and setting school records on vault (10.0) and the all-around (39.775). At Utah, Malia Jones set a career-high in the all-around with a 39.425 to place second and also won bars with a career-high 9.925.

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. Moneymaker is averaging 39.175 in the all-around, 9.913 on floor, 9.871 on vault and 9.804 on bars.

MONEYMAKER NAMED PAC-10 GYMNAST OF THE WEEK -- After her record-setting performance, Moneymaker became UCLA's third Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week this season, following Mohini Bhardwaj and Onnie Willis. Moneymaker's honor was the second of her career.

FULL ROSTER COMPETES AT CAL -- Every healthy member of the Bruin squad competed in Cal Feb. 11, giving several gymnasts their first opportunities to 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 in 2000 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.

LAST TIME AT HOME -- 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). 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 four meets, with a best of 39.775. Mohini Bhardwaj has gone 39+ in six meets with a season-best of 39.725 Feb. 6 and an average of 39.271. Lena Degteva has scored 39+ in three meets competing all-around, with a high of 39.525. In her first 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 twice last week with a 39.05 and 39.425.

BHARDWAJ IMPRESSIVE IN EARLY SEASON -- Junior All-American Mohini Bhardwaj (Cincinnati, Ohio) has proven to be one of the top gymnasts in the nation this season. Bhardwaj has won the all-around four times 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. She is averaging over 9.725 on all four events, including 9.889 on floor.

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 15 Top 3 placings, but it is her overall numbers that have been most impressive. Degteva is averaging 9.854 on floor and 9.836 on vault. After falling on beam in her first routine of the season at the Super Six Challenge, Degteva has hit 22 of 23 routines.

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 season. Onnie Willis (Tacoma, Wash.) has four victories this season, winning floor twice, vault once and bars once. Willis averages 9.836 on vault and 9.854 on floor and has four Top 3 showings on floor this season. Doni Thompson (Olympia, Wash.) averages 9.725 on beam in the leadoff position with two third-place showings and also averages 9.763 on floor. Malia Jones (Sparks, Nev.), who has hit 24 of 25 routines, set a career-high in the all-around last Monday with a 39.425 and is averaging 9.807 on the floor and 9.754 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.

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 17 of 18 routines this season.

DEAR DIARY -- Get all the inside information about the Bruins' season every Thursday on UCLA head coach Valorie Kondos' online diary at CNN-SI.com.

IN THE RANKINGS -- The Bruins retained its position as the No. 5 overall team and stayed at No. 1 on floor, No. 2 on vault and No. 10 on beam. However, the Bruins dropped a notch to fifth on bars. Individually, Mohini Bhardwaj is UCLA's top-ranked all-arounder at No. 10. Heidi Moneymaker is 15th, and Kristin Parker is 24th. On vault, Moneymaker is tied for eighth, followed by Bhardwaj at 10th and Degteva and Willis tied for 17th. Moneymaker ranks second nationally on floor with a 9.913 average. Bhardwaj is fifth, Degteva tied for 20th and Willis tied for 22nd.

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.


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