Gymnastics Looks To Defend MPSF TItle Friday

Junior Lida Gehlen hopes to win her third straight MPSF uneven bars title on Friday.<br>(Mark Honbo, Athletics Media Relations)
Junior Lida Gehlen hopes to win her third straight MPSF uneven bars title on Friday.
(Mark Honbo, Athletics Media Relations)

March 16, 2009

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Friday, Mar. 20 - at MPSF Championships (Air Force), 6 p.m.

Friday, Mar. 13 - at Sac State w/Cal & Seattle Pacific (3rd, 191.800)

LAST WEEK: The Aggies (7-11-1) saw their first dip in overall team score for the year, not counting the emergency fill-in meet at Stanford on February 8... After a solid 48.175 on bars, UC Davis struggled to a 46.525 on balance beam before recovering to a 48.675 on floor and a season-best 48.425 on vault en route to a 191.800 team total in Friday's quad meet at Sacramento State... Senior Adee Schoffman, junior Tanya Ho and sophomores Marcy Miller and Stacey Nicolini each scored 9.700 on vault to join in a five-way tie for third in the event... Senior Andi Dolinsky hit 9.800 on floor for the fourth time this season, good for T4th in the meet... Schoffman (9.750), Kendall McCann (9.725) and Jennifer Mueller (9.725) also posted strong floor marks for the Aggies.

RANKINGS: UC Davis continues to lead the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation with a 191.980 RQS, ninth in the West... However, Alaska Anchorage has inched its way toward the front-runners, thanks to high scores during the last few weeks (more on this later)... Junior Lida Gehlen dipped to 23rd in the regional bars ranking, slipping behind Cal's Bridgette Glass for the individual at-large race... Glass went 9.825 in Friday's meet at the Hornets' Nest... Dolinsky also ranks 23rd in the West on floor exercise at 9.790, but she and UAA's Shakea Sanders trail Cal's Avery Gee (9.815) for a spot at the region meet... Ho lifted her all-around RQS to 38.165, 6th in the hunt for the individual qualifier but now well behind Sacramento State's Eryn Stubblefield (38.540).

UP NEXT: UC Davis heads to Colorado to defend its MPSF team title on Friday, squaring off against Alaska Anchorage, two-time champion Seattle Pacific and host Air Force... The meet falls during the university's week of final examinations, although most of the Aggie gymnasts will have completed such commitments by Friday's meet... UC Davis will open the meet on balance beam.

ALASKA ANCHORAGE may trail UC Davis in the RQS standings, the Seawolves have come on strong, posting the conference's first 193.000 in a home meet vs. Kentucky on Sunday... In fact, UAA has two of the three highest MPSF scores of the season - also counting a 192.775 in a road meet at Rutgers on February 28 - and has broken the 192-point barrier in four of the last five meets... Sophomore Leah Wilson, on solid footing to qualify as an all-arounder for the NCAA Regional, scored a 38.975 on Sunday and a 38.675 on Friday to conclude her regular season... UAA claims the league's top individual on vault (Lauren Agostino, 9.795), beam (Wilson, 9.765) and floor (Shakea Sanders, 9.790).

AIR FORCE, which scored a 189.425 at Southeast Missouri State on Saturday, will get in one more home meet (Mar. 17 vs. Denver) before hosting the conference championships... Freshman Jenna Dudley hit season-best marks of 9.675 on vault and 9.725 on beam over the weekend, tallying a third-place 38.100 in the all-around... Her 38.290 ranks second in the conference, just ahead of teammate Abbey Rogers, who shared MPSF Gymnast of the Year accolades with UC Davis' Michelle Kulovitz last year.

SEATTLE PACIFIC finished fourth in Friday's quad meet at Sacramento State with a 187.225, its lowest since scoring a 186.975 at UC Davis on February 20... Sophomore Bri Steighauf had the top Falcon individual finish, tying for fourth (with Andi Dolinsky) on floor with a 9.800 mark... She and freshman Sherah Veron rank third (9.760) and fourth (9.730), respectively, in the MPSF floor rankings... SPU won conference titles in 2006 and 2007 (the first years after Sacramento State and San Jose State left for the Western Athletic Conference) before surrending the banner to UC Davis.

"We had a huge comeback on floor after having problems on beam. Then we did a superb job on vault. We did a great job after a letdown on beam, in terms of focus."

"We had three great events [on Friday]. Now, it's a matter of focusing on the things that help us compete well. It's a short week of training, but at this point, we've done everything we need to do physically. We now need to get ourselves lined up mentally to perform.

"Finals week is definitely a challenge. We've been talking about it for several weeks, having a plan in place to manage our time and be organized with our academics. I've had the team start early in preparing for finals. Most of them will be done by the time we leave, and only one will have a final when we get back."

"Last year, in the last week of classes, we went into the tank with Cal then came back and had our two best meets of the year. I'm thinking that once the kids get past their finals and the stress levels drop, we'll be in good shape to have our best performance of the year. And it will take our best performance of the year."

On starting on balance beam: "Beam obviously is the mental event. If you use it to your advantage, it's a great place to post a score and make everyone chase you. For us, starting on beam and posting a big score will put pressure one everyone else in the gym. It's a chance to take the bull by the horns and put everyone else on edge. I think it's a great opportunity for us to get that event done while we're fresh and strong, then take our confidence to the other events."