Gymnastics Set to Open NCAA's in Georgia; Watch Live

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Gymnastics Set to Open NCAA's in Georgia; Watch Live

BATON ROUGE — The No. 7 LSU gymnastics squad will compete at the NCAA Championships held on Thursday at noon (CT) in the Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga.

Live audio from the meet will be broadcast from the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net/live. Mike Smith will provide color commentary and Jewel Fourrier will provide analysis.

The Tigers will square off against No. 3 Florida, No. 4 Alabama, No. 8 Oregon State, No. 10 Oklahoma and No. 11 Arkansas in the first preliminary session on Thursday. No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Utah, No. 5 Michigan, No. 6 Stanford, No. 9 UCLA and No. 13 Denver will compete in the second preliminary session.

The top three teams from each session will advance to the final round on Friday.

LSU captured the third seed in the NCAA Championships with their National Qualifying Score (NQS) of 394.355. The NQS, used for the first time this season, is calculated by adding a team’s final RQS before the NCAA Regionals to their NCAA Regional score. LSU notched an impressive 197.625 at the NCAA Central Regional, capturing their first Regional title since 2005. LSU had an RQS of 196.730 before the NCAAs began.

“I think throughout this season, this team has steadily raised the bar and raised our expectations,” said LSU head coach D-D Breaux. “We are expecting to go to the National Championships and compete with the same tenaciousness as we did at Regionals.”

Florida finished the regular season with a 12-3-1 record. They tied for second at the SEC Championships with a score of 197.325. They captured the NCAA Southeast Regional title with a score of 197.525. They defeated the Tigers twice this season.

Alabama won the NCAA South Central Regional title in Norman, Okla., posting a 197.300. They tied with Florida for second at the SEC Championships. Alabama defeated LSU twice this season.

Oregon State compiled a record of 17-6 during the regular season. They finished second to Stanford at the Pac-10 Championships. The Beavers captured their first Regional title since 1992 this season, posting a 197.100 at the NCAA West Regionals.

Oklahoma won the Big 12 Championships this season, posting a score of 195.875. They finished second at the NCAA South Central Championships with a 195.875.

LSU has defeated Arkansas twice already this season. The Lady Backs finished in sixth place at the SEC Championships this season. They placed second at the NCAA North Central Regionals with a 196.125.

“We’ve been beaten by the best teams in the country, but we’ve beaten some of the best teams in the country,” said Breaux. “If we compete and do what we are capable of doing, I think we are as good as most teams that will be there.”

LSU will start the afternoon with a bye before floor. The Tigers will then move to the floor and the vault before another bye in the fourth rotation. They will compete on the bars in the fifth rotation before ending the competition on the beam.

“Where we start is something we can’t control,” added Breaux. “What we have talked about to our kids all season long is to try and control the things that you can control. We have to go to all of the events at some point in the session, so we aren’t worried about where we start.”

LSU has posted all-time winning records against Arkansas (14-0-0) and Oklahoma (7-4-0). The Tigers hold a 6-6-1 record against Oregon State. The Tigers haven’t had as much success with the other teams they will face in the preliminary round. They are 28-49-0 against Florida and 12-77-2 against Alabama.

This marks the 20th time in school history that LSU will make the trip to the NCAA Championships. Last season, the Tigers placed seventh at the NCAA Championships in Salt Lake City. The Tigers best finish came in 1988 when they placed fourth.

NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships
April 23, 2008
Wednesday Press Conference Quotes

LSU Head Coach D-D Breaux
“We are very excited to be back here at an SEC school (Georgia) for the championships. We are glad to be able to come back and compete. We have had a methodical season. We are a young team but we have progressed, improved and gotten stronger each week. We are more consistent in our preparation and in competition and we are coming off of an exciting experience at regionals.”

LSU Junior Ashleigh Clare-Kearney
“After each meet I try to focus on the little things I did wrong, I am by no means perfect. I just try to focus on consistency and improving on the little things each week.”

Alabama Head Coach Sarah Patterson
“We are very excited to be here for the 26th consecutive time. I feel that qualifying for nationals this year is just as exciting as qualifying 26 years ago. We have a wonderful team this year, who have all been through a lot of trials and tribulations, but they stuck together and shown how talented they are to be here”

Alabama Senior Kaitlin White
“We started pretty consistent, but once we headed out to California we struggled. We had to sit down and talk about a lot of things, change our goals, and write new ones down. I love the team that we have. We get along inside the gym and out of it, and I am excited”

Arkansas co-Head Coach Mark Cook
“This is our second time being here and we are excited with the opportunity. This entire season we have been on a mission. They are an exciting group of ladies who are very driven and have given 100% this entire season. I am proud to be back this year with this group”

Arkansas Senior Samantha Cortez
“The last time we were here we were underdogs and not expected to make it through our regional and into nationals. This year is a different team with different expectations and we have shown everyone that we deserve to make it”

Denver Head Coach Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart
“We’re just excited to be here at the championship and especially thrilled to be here at UGA where there is an excellent tradition.  This is our second year qualifying for the national championship.  This year we’ve trained better and we’re stronger and more focused.  We’re looking forward to going out there and doing what we know we can.”

Denver Junior Jessica Lopez
“It’s pretty much the same pressure here with your team as it is competing individually.  We have the same support of the team and the coaches.  I’m doing the sport that I love so there’s no pressure.  I’m just ready to go out there and do the best I can.”

Florida Head Coach Rhonda Faehn
“First I would like to comment on the beautiful facility. We are thrilled to be here and we want to thank UGA. It is wonderful to be up on this podium in this championship atmosphere. We have been training very well since our regional meet. Physically and menatally we are as fresh as we have been all year, which is a change from years past, and we feel ready.”

Florida Sophomore Melanie Sinclair
“After a meet I just try to get back to the gym and work on the small details and try to pick up 10ths here and there. We did a lot of pressure sets this year in the middle of practice to try to create a competitive atmosphere to get ready and focused.”

Georgia Head Coach Suzanne Yoculan
“This is the 4th championship we’ve hosted here and it feels great. I’m a big perfectionist but our staff is amazing and it’s been great to get a chance to relax. It’s given us a chance to focus on our academics and resolve any distractions that might arise, because that can happen hosting here at home. We’re ready, we’re peaking now, and this is the time that every coach likes to peak. Our conference and individual goals were reached, and our goals are going to culminate here in Athens.

Georgia Senior Katie Heenan
“Us seniors couldnt ask for more. When we won our first national title in 2005, I couldn’t imagine looking back at winning three. We’re going for four and it’s so special here at home. It’s very exciting here, we have our home crowd, and I just could not ask for anything more.”

Michigan Head Coach Bev Polcki
“I would first like to thank UGA for hosting this championship. It has moved to a lot of different places but the hospitality here has been amazing. We are thrilled to be here and feel that we have a chance to do something. We have had a great year this year following last season’s injuries. We have had great depth and consistency, and we are confident in what we are capable of doing.”

Michgan Senior Lindsay Bruck
“This team has been amazing. Our chemistry is incredible. Everyone is committed 100% to what we are doing in and out of the gym. I think that has helped everyone with their progress and allowed us to have a great year.”

Oklahoma Head Coach K.J. Kindler
“We feel very fortunate to be here. We are healthy, and we have been for the past two years, which has been a big part of our success. The team has come together in terms of chemistry, and things seem to be falling into place. Our Big 12 experience was exciting and we had a great time. We have been working hard to get where we need to be. We hope to be able to put it together we and have a great meet.”

Oklahoma Sophomore Hollie Vise
“Going to the World Championships was a great experience. I am now having a lot of fun with collegiate gymnastics. It is a lot different, it’s so much more team oriented. I am glad to be able to bring my experience to the table and I hope to contribute and make my scores count.”

Oregon State Head Coach Tanya Chaplin
“Our team has worked tremendously hard and have tried to build on last season’s success. We were the runner-up in the Pac 10 this year and we had a great West region meet. It has been an honor to work with these young women. They are driven and enthusiastic. We hope to come in this weekend and continue to build on the exciting things we were able to do last weekend.”

Oregon State Junior Jami Lanz
“This is a team that has built on our success each year. We have a great opportunity now and we are ready to take the next step and make the Super Six. I can’t wait until tomorrow night’s competition.”

Stanford Head Coach Kristen Smyth
“It’s exciting to be one of the 12 teams here competing for the championship.  I can’t think of a better place to compete; we’re looking forward to this fantastic atmosphere that Athens has to offer.  We’ve had a great postseason and competing here gives us the opportunity to get better and better.  Our goal is to enjoy every minute left with this incredible group of girls.”

Stanford Senior Tabitha Yim
“Having basically the same group competing here as last year really helps give the team confidence because we know exactly what to expect.  We have a great chance to challenge for the title.  We’re just really excited to be here.”

UCLA Head Coach Valorie Kondos Field
“It’s great to be back in Athens. We had a fun time when we were here just a few weeks ago, and we’re glad to be back and compete against the best teams in the country. There have been many bumps in the road for us this year, but the trials and tribulations are what makes this so fun. It shows the character of your team, and I’m thrilled for the championship and to turn over a new leaf. We’re working out the small details, but we plan on still competing Friday night.”

UCLA Senior Tasha Schwikert
“I’m very excited to be here at the NCAA’s. I’ve been dreaming of this my entire career, and when I entered college, I couldn’t imagine having just three days left. We’ve had a lot of injuries, but also some great moments and great rotations and when you put it all together we can change the game.”

Utah Head Coach Greg Marsden
“We are very happy to be here, and we had a very good season. Our team is determined and they are a close group. We did not choose a captain this y ear because we wanted everyone to take part in becoming leaders. They have done a great job of doing that and the result has been a very consitent year. We feel that we are in a good place and we hope to have a great weekend.”

Utah Senior Ashley Postell
“I think my decision to go to Utah was a really good one. I don’t think I could be any happier anywhere else. I am very thankful for Greg and for my teammates. They have allowed me to grow as a person and an athlete. Whether we win the championship or not, it was a great decision to come to Utah.”