Feb. 28, 2000
THIS WEEK -- The fourth-ranked UCLA Gymnastics team (16-5, 6-0 in the Pac-10), winners of seven of its last eight meets, will host second-ranked Michigan, UC Santa Barbara and Illinois-Chicago in the regular season finale, the fourth-annual Bruin Classic, on Sunday, Mar. 5. The meet will take place in the John Wooden Center at 2:00 pm. The capacity for the Wooden Center is 999 due to construction.
SENIOR SALUTE -- Seniors from all four teams will be honored after the meet. There will be a special presentation for UCLA's two seniors, Heidi Moneymaker (Santa Rosa, CA) and Lena Degteva (Mississauga, Ont.). In their career, the duo have led UCLA to its first-ever NCAA title in 1997, led UCLA to Pac-10 Championships in 1997 and 1999, earned eight All-America honors each and won three Pac-10 titles between them. Moneymaker has won two NCAA championships - on bars in 1998 and on vault in 1999 - and holds the school records on vault (10.0) and all-around (39.775).
A LOOK AT THE FIELD -- Michigan, the 1999 NCAA runner-up, is currently ranked No. 2 nationally. The Wolverines are led by senior All-American Sarah Cain, who ranks No. 13 nationally in the all-around and No. 2 on vault, and junior All-American Karina Senior, the ninth-ranked gymnast on floor. Michigan has scored 197+ twice this season and last week defeated Maryland with a score of 197.275. UC Santa Barbara is coached by former Bruin Megan Fenton, UCLA's first-ever 10.0 scorer on bars. The Gauchos' high mark this year is a 190.6 Feb. 18. Illinois-Chicago achieved a season-high mark of 193.375 in its last meet but will compete on Mar. 1 before facing the Bruins. Senior Gabriella Brunn, the 1995 Swedish national champion, is the school record-holder on vault (9.9) and beam (9.925).
BRUIN CLASSIC HISTORY -- UCLA has won the Bruin Classic in each of the meet's three years. Lena Degteva has won the all-around title two consecutive years. She is also the defending bars and floor champion and the meet record-holder on floor (9.95) and all-around (39.425). Heidi Moneymaker, the Bruin Classic vault record-holder (9.975) also returns to defend her vault and beam titles.
GREAT ALL-AROUND BATTLE SHAPING UP -- Some of the top all-arounders in the nation will be competing for the Bruin Classic all-around title. UCLA has three top 25 athletes in ninth-ranked Mohini Bhardwaj, 12th-ranked Heidi Moneymaker and 24th-ranked Lena Degteva. The Bruins have six gymnasts who average over 39.0 in the all-around - Bhardwaj (39.271), Moneymaker (39.211), Degteva (39.075), Onnie Willis (39.15), Kristin Parker (39.042) and Malia Jones (39.021). Michigan's Sarah Cain is ranked 13th in the all-around with a 39.1958 average. Her season-high is 39.75, and her career-high is 39.825. Her teammate, Karina Senior, scored a career-high 39.525 in the all-around last weekend.
LAST WEEK -- UCLA survived a last-rotation surge by host Washington and placed first in a quad meet in Seattle with a score of 196.425. Washington was second with a 196.175, followed by Sacramento State (191.125) and Alaska-Anchorage (182.475). Freshman Onnie Willis (Tacoma, WA), competing in her home state, placed second in the all-around with a 39.5. She also won vault for the second consecutive meet, scoring a 9.925. The Bruins opted to rest regular all-arounders Lena Degteva, Heidi Moneymaker and Mohini Bhardwaj (Cincinnati, OH). Sophomore Valerie Velasco (Fullerton, CA) competed all-around for the first time this season, and sophomore co-captain Stephanie Johnson (Ann Arbor, MI) competed on vault for the first time this year.
MONEYMAKER BECOMES A HISTORY-MAKER -- Senior Heidi Moneymaker made history Feb. 11 at Cal when she set a new school all-around record of 39.775. Her total included a school-record tying 10.0 on vault, the first perfect mark in her career. She 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, who was last week's Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week, averages 39.211 in the all-around, 9.911 on floor, 9.872 on vault and 9.818 on bars. She is the top-ranked gymnast in the nation on the floor exercise and also ranks 12th in the all-around.
ONNIE ON FIRE -- Freshman Onnie Willis has sparkled for the Bruins in 2000, blasting her way into the UCLA record books. Her 10.0 on vault Feb. 20 was just the fifth in school history on that event (10th on any event). She also tied a Pauley Pavilion record with a 9.975 on bars (third-highest score in school history). Her 9.95 on floor ranks fifth on the all-time list, and her 39.525 in the all-around was a new freshman record. Last week at Washington, she scored a 39.5 to place second in the all-around. Willis has seven individual victories this season, including three each on vault and floor.
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 (Olympia, WA) started the record-setting set with a career-high 9.925. Onnie Willis followed with her 9.975. Kristin Parker (Hanford, CA) 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.
BRUIN VAULTERS RAISE DIFFICULTY LEVEL -- UCLA ranks second nationally on vault with good reason - the Bruins have two athletes who have scored perfect 10s this season (Heidi Moneymaker and Onnie Willis) and four athletes ranked in the Top 25 in the nation and perform the most difficult vaults in collegiate gymnastics. Moneymaker and Kristin Parker have competed a handspring front layout with a half-twist (worth 9.9 in the FIG international elite code), and Mohini Bhardwaj competes a Yurchenko layout with 1 1/2 twists (worth 9.8 in the FIG international elite code). UCLA has scored above 49.0 on vault in all but one meet this year and averages 49.1777, with a season-high of 49.425 set last Feb. 20. Moneymaker and Willis became the first pair of Bruins ever to score perfect marks on the same apparatus in the same season.
DEFENDING NCAA VAULT CHAMP 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.
THE COMEBACK KIDS -- Freshman Doni Thompson not only made her collegiate debut Jan. 8, 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 Am 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 Worlds. 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 23 of 24 routines this season.
Redshirt freshman Amy Young (Diamond Bar, CA), out for two years with two ACL surgeries to her left knee, made her comeback this season, competing on beam three times for the Bruins. In her first home meet ever as a Bruin (Feb. 20), she scored a career-high 9.8 to tie for second place.
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.
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.