Gymnasts Score Season-Best In Team Prelims To Take Lead At Nationals

April 14, 2005

DAVIS, Calif. - Five Aggies advanced to the national event championships to compete for individual All-America honors to lead UC Davis to a season-best 193.550 in the USA Gymnastics Collegiate National team preliminaries Thursday. The Aggies, seeded fifth in the meet, scored almost two points better than their closest competitors.

As one of the top four teams in Thursday's action, UC Davis advances to the team finals, scheduled for Friday at 6 p.m. EDT.

Seattle Pacific finished second with a 191.550 total, while first-year entry Rutgers was third at 191.275. Texas Woman's University made the final four with a 190.450. Defending USAG champion Centenary missed the cut for Friday's team final, scoring 190.425 to finish behind TWU by the minimum margin.

Rounding out the preliminary field was sixth-place and event host Cornell at 190.400, the U.S. Air Force Academy at 187.625 and Alaska Anchorage, which finished with a 186.850 score.

The Aggies' team total of 193.550 ranks fourth all-time, behind scores set at the 1999 and 2002 national meet, and last year's school-record 191.450. Additionally, UC Davis posted season-best marks on uneven bars and balance beam. The latter score, a 48.575, ranks second all-time in school annals.

Freshman Michelle Kulovitz and senior Tiffany Chan led the charge on beam. Kulovitz scored a career-high 9.875 to take sole possession of first place, while Tiffany Chan took second at 9.800. Junior Hanna Anderson also advanced to the event championships, finishing in a tie for fifth place at 9.575. The top eight finishers on each event qualify for Saturday's event finals and will compete for All-America status.

Sophomore Brandi Forte shared second place on uneven bars at 9.800 to lead the Aggies to a season-best 48.425 in that apparatus. With only eight qualifiers on uneven bars, Forte is ensured an All-America award in her second trip to nationals.



UC Davis, which was the only team to score 48 or better in all four events, also guaranteed itself three All-Americans on vault, compiling a meet-high 48.075 total. Kulovitz tied for second on that apparatus with a 9.700 mark, while Julia Richards shared fourth place at 9.675 and Tiffany Chan split sixth place witha 9.650 card.

Chan, Kulovitz and Richards also advanced to Saturday's event final on floor exercise, helping UC Davis score a 48.475. Chan scored 9.800 to tie for fourth place in the prelims, while Kulovitz and Richards each posted 9.775 to share sixth.

Seattle Pacific's Debra Huss won the USAG all-around title, edging Air Force's Jessa Liegl, who scored 38.675; and defending champion Christine Menne of Centenary, who totalled a 38.425. Texas Woman's had two individual leaders as event favorite Courtney Arno scored a 9.875 on uneven bars and Brittany Abney posted a 9.850 on floor exercise. Kari Kelly of SPU earned Saturday's pole position on vault, scoring a 9.750.

This is the sixth time in the past seven years that UC Davis has reached the team final. That run includes the 1999 national meet, in which the Aggies scored a then-school record of 193.700 to claim its first USAG title.

Furthermore, the fivesome of Chan, Kulovitz, Richards, Forte and Anderson have a chance to win as many as 10 All-America awards. Only the 2002 team, which brought home 14 such awards, has won more in UC Davis program history.

Ithaca, N.Y. (host: Cornell University), April 14, 2005

TEAM SCORES - 1. UC Davis, 193.550; 2. Seattle Pacific, 191.550; 3. Rutgers, 191.275; 4. Texas Woman's, 190.450; 5. Centenary, 190.425; 6. Cornell, 190.000; 7. Air Force, 187.625; 8. Alaska Anchoroage, 186.850.

ALL-AROUND (All-Americans) - 1. Debra Huss, SPU, 38.875; 2. Jessa Liegl, AFA, 38.675; 3. Christine Menne, CCL, 38.425; 4. Dominique Ingram, UAA, 38.050; 5. Beth Fittery, RU, 37.925; 6. Sashonna Iwaniec, AFA, 37.700; 7. Randi Bisbano, CU, 37.575; 8. Sarah Ball, CCL, 37.525.

VAULT - 1. Kari Kelly, SPU, 9.750; 2 (tie). Michelle Kulovitz, UC Davis; Jessa Liegl, AFA, 9.700; 4 (tie). Julia Richards, UC Davis; Dominique Ingram, AFA, 9.675; 6 (tie). Tiffany Chan, UC Davis; Jessica Brozovich, TWU, 9.650; 8. Alexis Zafferes, TWU, 9.650.

UNEVEN BARS - 1. Courtney Arno, TWU, 9.875; 2 (tie). Brandi Forte, UC Davis; Dominique Ingram, UAA; Stephanie Zick, RU; Brisa Fuentes, TWU, 9.800; 6 (tie). Debra Huss, SPU; Jaynie Reynolds, SPU, 9.750; 8 (tie). Cathy Schnell, CU; Beth Fittery, RU, 9.725.

BALANCE BEAM - 1. Michelle Kulovitz, UC Davis, 9.875; 2. Tiffany Chan, UC Davis, 9.800; 3. Jamie Burton, UAA; Debra Huss, SPU, 9.775; 5. Corrie McDaniel, SPU; Hanna Anderson, UC Davis, 9.725; 7 (tie). Megan Gilbert, CU; Courtney Arno, TWU; Randi Bisbano, CU, 9.700.

FLOOR EXERCISE - 1. Brittany Abney, TWU, 9.850; 2 (tie). Thecla Gavin, TWU; Debra Huss, SPU, 9.825; 4. Tiffany Chan, UC Davis; Sarah Sullivan, SPU, 9.800; 6 (tie). Michelle Kulovitz, UC Davis; Julia Richards, UC Davis; Corrie McDaniel, SPU, 9.775.

Top 8 from each event advance to event finals to compete for All-America honors.