Women's Gymnasts Take Two Individual National Championships
April 18, 1998
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Jenni Beathard of Georgia wiped tears from her eyes, careful not to smear the mascara. She couldn't believe she just won the NCAA championship on beam, an event that's hardly her specialty.
Beathard tied teammate Kim Arnold and Florida's Betsy Hamm for first on beam with a score of 9.875 in Saturday night's individual event finals at the NCAA women's gymnastics championships.
"I totally didn't expect it," said Beathard, a junior who was last year's NCAA bars winner. "Beam is Kim and Karin's (Lichey) event. I was so on, it was unbelievable."
Karin Lichey and younger sister, Kristi, tied for fourth with Utah's Shannon Bowles, as four of Georgia's five competitors placed in the top four.
The Gym Dogs dominated the three-day meet at Pauley Pavilion on the UCLA campus. They won the team championship Friday night over Florida to complete an undefeated season. Arnold won her second straight all-around title Thursday night and Karin Lichey was second.
"After last night, nothing can top it," said Beathard, who was third on bars. "Coming out with two titles on beam is icing on the cake for us."
Hamm grabbed a share of the beam title by completing a back layout with a full twist. Event officials said she is believed to be the first collegiate gymnast to complete the skill.
Lichey returned one event later to tie UCLA's Stella Umeh for the floor championship, giving Georgia three titles on the night to the Bruins' two.
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