April 16, 2004
Get Your Bruins Gear Here!
Los Angeles, Calif. - The Drive For Five ended in the Pauley Pavilion garage, as the UCLA women's gymnastics team stuck to its year long motto and took home the school's fifth gymnastics championship and 91st NCAA title overall. The Bruins scored a 198.125, a new NCAA Championship meet record. Georgia placed second with a 197.2, and Alabama and Stanford placed third with a 197.125.
Twelve schools made the trip to Westwood, with six making it to the finals Friday Night. The Bruins were joined by Utah, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and Stanford.
The entire event was kicked off by a freshman, as Ashley Peckett got the Bruins started with a solid 9.85 floor routine. On a night when the Bruins began on one of their strongest events, Peckett's score was dropped for an opening round score of 49.575. Jeanette Antolin, Jamie Dantzscher, and Yvonne Tousek each scored 9.9, while Kristen Maloney had a 9.925. The Bruins were led by Kate Richardson's 9.95.
Alabama kept it close early with a 49.375 on the vault, led by a pair of 9.9s by Jeana Rice and Ashley Miles. Stanford also hung around, nailing down a 49.250 on the balance beam. Lindsay Wing paced the Cardinal with a 9.925.
Georgia had a solid 49.45 after one round. Marline Stephens' 9.9 on the floor set up a thrilling 9.95 by Chelsa Byrd.
Utah put itself at an early disadvantage, counting a fall on the uneven bars for a first round score of 48.325 when Dominique D'Oliveira and Veronique LeClerc were unable to hit their routines. Florida seemed to succumb to a case of shaky nerves as well as it had a fall and four scores under 9.8 for a total of 48.8 on bars in the first round. Erinn Dooley led the Gators with a 9.875.
With the Utes safely in the rearview mirror and Florida well behind, the meet became a four-way contest after one round between UCLA, Stanford, Alabama and Georgia.
The Bruins extended their lead with a 49.525 on the vault for a two-round total of 99.1 before heading into a bye. Maloney's 9.95 set the pace for Jeannette Antolin, who followed with a 9.975, earning a perfect score from two of the four judges.
Alabama struggled a little on bars in its second rotation, but still stayed close, tallying a 49.050. Rice had a team high 9.9, giving the Crimson Tide a two-round score of 98.425. Stanford's 49.325 on floor kept the Cardinal in the hunt with a total of 98.575, good for third place after two rotations. Caroline Fluhrer and Lise Leveille each scored a 9.9, while Natalie Foley had a 9.875.
It was the Georgia Bulldogs who maintained the most pressure on the Bruins, staying on track with a 49.425 on the vault. Byrd and Stephens each nailed a 9.95 to keep Georgia within striking distance and just .225 behind UCLA with a two-round total 98.875.
The drama built in the third rotation, as UCLA pounded out a 49.425 on bars for a three round total of 148.525. Antolin and Maloney scored 9.9 and 9.925 respectfully, and Dantzscher capped the effort with a dramatic 9.95 that brought the crowd to its feet.
Stanford turned in an impressive third rotation on the vault, with four scores of 9.9 or higher. Leveille and Jessica Louie turned in scores of 9.925, but the Cardinal had to count a 9.7 to hold them to a three-round total of 147.925.
Alabama bounced back on the beam with a team score of 49.225. Rice's 9.925 kept the Tide in fourth place after three rotations with a team total of 147.650.
Georgia finished its third event in second place with a 148.0, forcing the Bruins to hit all of their final-rotation routines. In their fifth rotation, UCLA was given the challenge of closing their meet on beam, widely considered the least desirable closing rotation.
With the unenviable position of finishing the meet with a bye, the Bruins knew they had to score high on the balance beam before heading to the locker room. They did that and more, tallying a meet high 49.6 and leaving it mathematically impossible for anyone to top their 198.125. Lori Winn kicked things off with a 9.875, and the Bruins never looked back. Antolin stepped up with a 9.95, tying her career high. Richardson followed with her own 9.95, earning a 10 from one judge. Tousek had a 9.9, and Maloney closed the door with a 9.925.
The rest of the final rotation was a mere formality and a battle for second place, as Georgia edged out Stanford and Alabama by scoring 197.2.
A UCLA gymnast had the highest score on each event, though Byrd tied Richardson on the floor with her 9.95. The Bruins were never seriously threatened, tallying the highest team total on each apparatus. In fact, no other team scored higher than 49.5 on a single apparatus, while the Bruins did it on floor, vault, and beam.
Overall it was the 15th National Championship won by a Bruin athletic team inside Pauley Pavilion, the last coming in 1996 when the men's volleyball team took home the title. This marks the first time the UCLA women's gymnastics team has won a championship in Pauley Pavilion, with their previous best finish being runner-up in the 1984 competition.