Women's Gymnastics Qualifies for NCAA Championships
April 4, 1998
SEATTLE, Wash. - Thanks to a meet-high 49.4 on vault, UCLA qualified for the 1998 NCAA Championships, scoring a team score of 195.1 to qualify as the 10th seed.
UCLA started the meet on bars and scored a 48.625 thanks to strong showings by Heidi Moneymaker (9.875) and Kiralee Hayashi (9.85). However, the Bruins got a huge scare when senior Stella Umeh, the 1998 Pac-10 Gymnast of the Year, hit her legs on the bars on her double-twisting flyaway dismount and crashed to the mat on her head. Umeh's neck injury kept her out of beam and bars, but she would return on UCLA's final event, vault. Umeh's replacement on beam, UCLA's next event, was freshman Alexis Norman, who came through in a big way, scoring a career-high 9.725 in just her fifth beam appearance of the year. Norman's score kept UCLA from counting a fall. The Bruins totaled 48.6 on beam, led by Lena Degteva's 9.8.
The Bruins went five-deep on floor and scored 48.45. Two out-of-bounds deductions lowered the Bruins' score. Moneymaker paced UCLA with a 9.85.
With a three-event score of 145.7 and trailing third-place Boise State by .275, UCLA went into its last event, vault, needing 48.225 to catch the Broncos for third and a 49.35 to catch Arizona State for the 12th and final slot for NCAAs. And the Bruins hit the third-best vault set in school history, with a 49.4 to qualify in the 11th spot. The set started with Andrea Fong hitting a season-high 9.775. Mohini Bhardwaj, vaulting for the first time since January, hit a 9.8. Hayashi scored a career-high 9.9. Degteva tied her career-high with a 9.925, Umeh returned to hit a perfect 9.9. The meet came to Moneymaker's final vault. Needing a 9.825 or better, Moneymaker hit a 9.775 on her first vault and a 9.875 on her second to clinch the berth with a final score of 195.1. Stanford, which was in first place going into the final rotation, fell apart on beam and finished with a 194.625, good for third place but not good enough to qualify for NCAAs.
Said UCLA head coach Valorie Kondos, "We are so excited, not so much because we qualified, but because we came together as a team for the first time this season. They knew they had to score out of their minds on vault, and they did the absolute best they could do."
Washington and UCLA will advance to the NCAA Championships April 16-18 at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion. Joining them will be Georgia, Alabama, Penn State, Utah, Florida, Michigan, BYU, LSU, North Carolina State and Arizona State.
1998 NCAA Women's Gymnastics West Regional Results
April 4, 1998 @Seattle, Washington, Hec Edmundson Pavilion (All scores unofficial) Team Results 1. Washington 196.15 2. UCLA 195.1 3. Stanford 194.625 4. Boise St. 193.925 5. Oregon St. 193.25 6. Cal 190.6 7. UC Davis 187.875
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