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UCD gymnasts host conference meet, then off to NCAAs

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The UCD gymnastics team — shown here celebrating a strong routine earlier this season — is set to host the MPSF championships on Saturday at The Pavilion. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise file photo

By
From page B1 | March 21, 2014 |

This should be a dandy.

When the women’s gymnastics teams of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation get together Saturday at The Pavilion for the final time this season, UC Davis coach John Lavallee says fans can expect “tight competition.”

With No. 29 San Jose State and No. 44 Sacramento State having returned to the MPSF fold, Lavallee says his No. 31 Aggies will have their hands full if they want to win their fifth consecutive crowd.

The march-in begins at 6 p.m.

“It’s going to be a really good meet,” said Lavalle, the five-time MPSF Coach of the Year. “We’ve beaten (Sacramento State) … and they’ve beaten us. We’ve beaten San Jose State, and San Jose has beaten us.

“Air Force went 195 last weekend on the road and Seattle Pacific has gone mid-194.”

Alaska-Anchorage also will be on hand.

Thanks to a 195.205 regional-qualifying score, the Aggies are one of only 36 squads headed to an NCAA regional next month. Where they compete, however, won’t be determined until Monday.

As a team, UCD last qualified in 1998. Meanwhile, San Jose State’s (RQS 195.345) also is in the 2014 postseason.

The Hornets (194.000) hit a season-best 195.275 to upset the Aggies in a tri-meet with Alaska (March 7 across the Causeway).

UCD has been led by Alameda senior Anna Shumaker who, for the fourth time this year (and third straight week), is the MPSF Gymnast of the Week.

Shumaker, who says she enjoy floor exercise most among all her disciplines, has been an all-around virtuoso.

She has scored 39 or better six times this year and her RQS of 39.175 was better than the brilliant Katie Yamamura’s 39.045 in 2013. (Yamamura’s meet-best 39.325 remains a UCD record.)

“Anna Shumaker has been off the charts,” Lavallee said. “Her record for consistency is incredibly impressive, more impressive than if she set the school record.

But these Aggies have depth never before seen in Lavallee’s eight years at the helm.

Sophomore Stephanie Stamates has nine straight floor scores of 9.800 or better. According to school media officials, when Stamates broke 9.800 in the beam four times in a six-week stretch, it helped the Aggies post six of their top seven scores ever in that event.

UCD junior Lisa Wiktorski (bars), freshman Katy Nogaki (vault) and senior Regi Sovkjar (vault) all have stepped up.

And now that the league finals are at hand, Aggie fans will remember the stunning 2012 performances of Tiana Montell and Madeline Kennedy.

Montell, then a freshman, beat teammate Yamamura for the all-round MPSF crown while Kennedy won the conference beam title.

Then there’s Dani Judal — the MPSF’s No.2-ranked bars performer — Kala DeFrancesco and Jamie Yamashita adding to this Aggie team for the ages.

“Our points will come from all 24 spots,” Lavallee promised. “In order for us to do what we hope to do, we need all six people in the lineup in each event to do their best of the season.

“It will be that tight. It will be little things here and there that make the difference.”

Notes: Finals week will be over by Saturday and the Aggies go into the meet knowing they’ve qualified for postseason. “What (that) does is take some variables off the table and allows us to really focus in on our performance,” Lavallee added. … On Monday, the announcement of where the top 36 gymnastic teams are headed coincides at noon with the Aggie women being recognized on the California Assembly floor for their work with the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation. UCD gymnasts adopted 6-year-old Alyssa Kalb, who is fighting a brain tumor. Dennis Murphy, the father of FOJ namesake, will be in attendance when the Aggies are honored. … Seniors Kennedy and Shumaker — a favorite for MPSF Performer of the Year — are UCD’s co-captains. … 2005 was the last season the league had six schools for gymnastics.

— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or 530-320-4456

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