March 24, 2014
DAVIS, Calif. -
With a regional-qualifying score of 195.260, good for 34th nationally, the UC Davis women's gymnastics team has advanced to the NCAA Region Championship in Fayetteville, Ark., the NCAA announced on Monday afternoon. This is the first time since 1998 that the Aggies have qualified for the NCAA postseason as a team. The University of Arkansas will host the meet.
UC Davis will join No. 5 Utah, No. 8 UCLA, No. 17 Arkansas, No. 24 Arizona State and No. 30 Utah State at the meet, which kicks off at 4 p.m. Central (2 p.m. PDT) on Saturday, April 5.
"This is by far the biggest moment of my coaching career," said head coach John Lavallee. "I've had national champions at the club level but this really is it. It has been eight years of a lot of hard work.
"I don't want to say this is the culmination because I hope this is just the beginning of a new era for UC Davis gymnastics. A lot of student-athletes over the years have put in a lot of hard work to move everybody forward. It is incredibly gratifying to be able to take this team to the regional in two weeks."
The top 36 teams in the country, based on RQS, are invited to one of six regionals, hosted be Georgia, LSU, Arkansas, Minnesota, Washington and Penn State.
"We're at the University of Arkansas, an SEC school. We have the Pac-12 champions in Utah. UCLA and Arizona State are Pac-12 members. And we have the Mountain West's Utah State," Lavallee said. "It's probably the hardest regional of the six. We're out there, running with the big dogs. But we're out there because we've earned that right based on our performance. It will be hugely exciting to compete in that gym with those teams."
UC Davis has sent at least two individual at-large qualifiers to the regionals every year since 2010. This will be the third trip for senior Anna Shumaker, who advanced to the NCAA postseason on vault in 2011 and the all-around in 2013. Tanya Ho (2007, 2008, 2010) and Katie Yamamura (2010, 2012, 2013) are also three-time participants.
Coincidentally, one of Lavallee's first NCAA qualifiers will also be in attendance at the Fayetteville Regional: Andi Dolinsky, who competed at the 2007 Berkeley Regional on floor exercise, is now an assistant at Utah State.
This marks the first time the Aggies have ever ranked among the top 36. The 1998 squad advanced to the regional by virtue of a No. 7 West Region ranking. The NCAA switched to the top 36 system in 2008. UC Davis' previous high ranking was a No. 39 finish in 2010.