April 17, 2004
Los Angeles, CA - Alabama sophomore Ashley Miles won two NCAA individual titles, successfully defending her vault title and sharing the floor exercise crown with North Carolina's Courtney Bumpers. Sophomore Ashley Kelly from Arizona State won the balance beam crown, and junior Elise Ray from Michigan won the uneven bars title with a 9.975.
Saturday night's event winners had not only the degree of difficulty but the precision to match. Each event winner had amongst the most difficult routines of the night on their respective events.
On vault, Miles scored a 9.975 on a Yurchenko layout full and a 9.9125 on a Yurchenko one-and-a-half for a two-vault average of 9.9438. Annabeth Eberle from Utah placed second with an average of 9.9188, and Natalie Foley from Stanford placed third with a 9.8938. Bruin Kate Richardson competed first up on vault and drilled her first attempt, a Yurchenko full, for a 9.95, even earning a 10.0 from one judge. However, she sat down her second vault attempt and scored a 9.225 for a two-vault average of 9.5875 good for ninth place.
Ray, who came back from a near career-ending shoulder injury that sidelined her in 2003, performed two hop fulls and landed perfectly on a full-twisting double layout dismount to score a 9.975. Ray has won three NCAA titles in three years, previously winning the all-around as a freshman in 2001 and the beam as a sophomore in 2002. UCLA's Kristen Maloney placed second with a 9.9375 and earned a 10.0 from one judge. She performed her signature move, the Maloney (toe-on Shaposhnikova) and stuck her full-twisting double back dismount. Richardson attempted to defend her bars title by hitting a high Tkatchev and nailing a double layout dismount but scored a 9.9 for third place. UCLA senior Jeanette Antolin placed fourth with a 9.8875. Senior Jamie Dantzscher competed first and took an extra swing on the high bar, leading to a 9.7375 for 12th place.
Ray attempted to win a second title on the balance beam, setting the standard with a 9.9 on beam as the first competitor. But Kelly raised the bar with a 9.95, performing a backhandspring/backhandspring/layout, a front aerial to wolf jump and dismounting with a stuck gainer double full. All-around champion Jeana Rice from Alabama also hit a spectacular routine, but her 9.9125 was not enough to catch Kelly. Nebraska freshman Kristi Esposito competed last and turned in a clean routine which merited a 9.9 to tie Ray for third place. UCLA senior Yvonne Tousek concluded a stellar four-year career with a beautiful beam routine that included a backhandspring/layout/backhandspring and was punctuated with a stuck double full landing, scoring 9.875, good for fifth place. Kelly's title was Arizona State's 10th overall individual title and fourth on beam. She becomes ASU's ninth NCAA champion.
Bumpers showed the most difficulty on the floor exercise, tumbling a double layout/punch front mount, an Arabian double front middle pass and a double pike final pass. Her routine to the Mission Impossible theme song merited a 9.9375, and she had not only the crowd, but even her competitors cheering her on throughout her routine. Miles matched that score with clean and powerful tumbling that included a double layout, front layout to front full and a double pike. UCLA's Antolin finished her Bruin career with a dynamic routine to Elvis Presley's "A Little Less Conversation", tumbling a whip through to double pike, double full to immediate punch front and a stuck double pike and scored a 9.9 for a tie for third place with Utah's Melissa Vituj, whose James Bond routine included a triple full mount. Miles becomes Alabama's first back-to-back single event winner since Dana Dobransky won consecutive titles on beam in 1992 and 1993. With Miles' two titles and Rice's all-around crown, Alabama has now won 16 NCAA individual titles. Bumpers is North Carolina's first-ever individual champion.