GYMNASTICS BEGINS POSTSEASON COMPETITION ON SATURDAY AT WEST REGIONAL
For the first time in school history, the Sacramento State gymnastics team will make its third consecutive appearance at the NCAA Regionals. The Hornets will travel to Corvallis, Ore., for the 6 p.m. meet on Apr. 12. The six-team meet will also feature No. 5 Michigan, No. 8 Oregon State, No. 17 Michigan State, No. 31 Washington and No. 32 San Jose State.
The Hornets come into the meet ranked 35th nationally. Sacramento State most recently finished fourth at the Western Athletic Conference Championships, snapping its streak of two straight WAC titles. The Hornets scored 194.275 and finished behind host Boise State (194.925), San Jose State (194.725) and Southern Utah (194.575). The top five spots at the meet were separated by just .775 points.
Saturday’s meet will mark the fourth time that the Hornets have qualified for NCAA postseason competition. The team’s first appearance came in 1999 and saw Sacramento State place sixth. In 2006, the Hornets travelled to Stanford, Calif., and ended in fifth place with a 192.050. Last season, Sacramento State competed at Cal and scored 191.725 to finish sixth.
The Hornets have faced two of their regional opponents (Oregon State and SJSU) during the 2008 season. However, Sacramento State has met each of the six teams at least once in the last six years.
Michigan: The Wolverines are the top seed in the meet with a fifth-place national ranking…the team posted a 24-1 overall record in the regular season with its lone loss coming at national-powerhouse Utah…Michigan scored 196.750 to win the Big 10 championship…Lindsey Bruck was named the Big 10 Gymnast of the Year…Sarah Curtis was the Big 10 champion on bars and Kylee Botterman won the title on floor…the Wolverines are coached by 19-year veteran Beverly Plocki and are making their 17th straight regional appearance…Michigan holds a 2-0 lead in the all-time series but has not faced the Hornets since 2002.
Oregon State: The host Beavers are ranked eighth nationally…OSU is coming off a second-place finish at the Pac-10 Championships…the team scored 196.550 at the meet and finished behind Stanford…head coach Tonya Chaplin was named the league’s co-Coach of the Year…Tasha Smith finished first on both vault (9.900) and floor (9.950)…Jami Lanz tied for first on beam (9.950)…the Beavers defeated Sacramento State earlier this season at the Salbasgeon Suites Invitational and now lead the all-time series, 6-0.
Michigan State: The Spartans are ranked in the top 18 teams for the first time in school history…MSU is seeded 17th nationally with an RQS of 195.620…the team finished fourth at the Big 10 Championships and owns a 14-9 overall record…Rhiana Banda-Scott and Nicole Curler both earned first team all-Big 10 honors…MSU’s top score during the year was a 196.350…the team is coached by Kathie Klages who is in her 18th year…ironically, the Spartans and Hornets have met only once and tied in a 2004 meet hosted by Oregon State.
Washington: The Huskies will compete at the West Regional for the second consecutive season…Washington enters as the fourth seed in the region and is ranked 31st nationally…UW placed sixth at the Pac-10 Championships…Ashley Houghting earned first team all-Pac-10 honors on floor…Washington’s top score during the year was 194.675 in a loss to Utah on Feb. 16…the Huskies are coached by Joanne Bowers who is in her second year at the helm…Bowers came to UW from Michigan where she was an assistant…Washington leads the all-time series, 9-0.
San Jose State: No stranger to Sacramento State, the Spartans and Hornets will meet for the fifth time this season…SJSU has won three of the four previous meetings…San Jose State is ranked 32nd nationally…the Spartans finished second at the WAC Championships with a score of 194.725…Veronica Porte earned first team all-WAC honors and vault and Emily Stebbins was given the same honor on floor…the Spartans are coached by Wayne Wright…Sacramento State leads the all-time series, 36-22-1.
The NCAA conducts six regionals located across the country. Each site has three teams that have been assigned out of the top 18 teams in the nation. The rest of the field is distributed based on a combination of score and geographic location.
The top two teams from all six regionals will advance to the NCAA Championships in Athens, Ga., beginning on April 24. Individuals can also advance if they are the top two all-arounders not from advancing teams or win an individual event title.
Becoming a Habit
Sacramento State is one of 29 teams to qualify for the regionals each of the last three seasons. However, the team joins Utah, Denver, BYU and West Virginia as the only schools not from the powerhouse conferences (Pac-10, SEC, ACC, Bog 10 and Big 12) to achieve the feat.
A Look Back at the WAC
For the first time since joining the league in 2006, Sacramento State did not win the WAC title. The team finished fourth in one of the closest meets in conference history. The Hornets scored 194.275 but could not catch Boise State who claimed its first WAC title.
Individually, senior Melissa Genovese earned first team all-WAC honors on beam and in the all-around. Freshman Alycia Chan was named to the second team on vault and floor.
Not only had Sacramento State won the last two WAC titles, the team had finished first in its conference meet in seven of the last eight years. That streak began in 2000 with back-to-back Western Independent Conference championships and continued with a pair of Mountain Pacific Sports Federation crowns in 2003 and 2004. A second-place showing in 2004, was followed by a win at the 2005 MPSF meets and the two WAC titles. In fact, the last time Sacramento State did not finish in the top two prior to this year was in 1998 when it was third.
Plenty of Experience
Genovese and fellow senior Alexis Tsurumoto will become the first Sacramento State gymnasts to compete in four NCAA Regionals when they take to the floor on Saturday. Both student-athletes qualified as event specialists during their freshmen year. Genovese tied for 25th overall with a 9.725 on beam while Tsurumoto tied for 29th on bars.
The 2006 and 2007 seasons saw both gymnasts qualify as part of the team. Tsurumoto’s best finish came last season where she tied for 13th on bars. Genovese also had success a year ago, tying for sixth on beam with a 9.825.
Unlike most teams, Sacramento State has counted on beam as its go-to event this season. The team has routinely separated itself from the opposition on beam and has claimed at least a share of first place in nine of the 12 meets.
As a team, the Hornets have practically re-written the record book. Dating back to the final two meets of last season, Sacramento State has recorded the top seven scores on beam in school history. The highest total came at last season’s WAC Championships where the Hornets scored 49.325. The top score this year (48.075) came against Cal, UC Davis and Seattle Pacific in the home finale.
Individually, Genovese has been the best. The El Dorado Hills, Calif., native is currently ranked ninth nationally on the event and finished second at the WAC Championships. Earlier this season, she tied the school record on beam with a 9.925 and later broke the record with a 9.950.
Big Year for Borisova
Junior Marina Borisova returns for her third NCAA Regional appearance. As a freshman, Borisova finished fifth on floor and sixth in the all-around. This year, Borisova has recorded the highest score on the team on bars (9.875), floor (9.900) and in the all-around (39.275). She also had a major accomplishment out of the gym, earning her United States citizenship on Jan. 31.
She’s Been Chan-tastic
Freshman Alycia Chan continued her amazing freshman season, earning second team all-WAC honors on both vault and floor. Chan tied for fourth on vault with a 9.825 and tied for sixth on floor (9.850).
News & Notes
Despite growing up in Corvallis, Ore., Eryn Stubblefield had never competed at Gill Coliseum until earlier this year…sophomores Lizzy Norvell and Traci Takeda are the only returners who will be making their first regional appearance one the team.