March 26, 2012
BERKELEY - Three women's gymnasts from the University of California were selected to compete in the NCAA Regionals in Seattle on Saturday, April 7 at 4 p.m. inside Alaska Airlines Arena. Juniors Madisyn O'Brien and Mariesah Pierce were selected to compete as individuals in the all-around and junior Nicolette Lewwas selected to perform on the balance beam.
"I am excited for Maddy, Mariesah and Nikki to have an opportunity to represent Cal at the Regional Championships in Seattle," said Cal head coach Danna Durante. "The team as a whole has worked so hard this year and has made some terrific strides, I'm pleased that they will be represented in the post season."
Seattle is one of six regional sites around the nation taking place on April 7. Alabama, LSU, Arizona, Washington, Iowa and Central Michigan will compete as a team in the event. The top two teams and the top two all-around competitors who are not on an advancing team from each region will receive an automatic berth to the national championships in Duluth, Ga., April 20-22.
Pierce was the Golden Bears' top all-around competitor through the first seven meets of the season, however the junior suffered an injury that limited her to just one event the following meet and sidelined her for the past four meets. She has not competed since Feb. 24. Pierce has averaged a score of 38.464 in the all-around with a regional qualifying mark of 38.545. Her top event is the vault where she has averaged a score of 9.771 this season. The junior has also averaged a 9.696 in the floor exercise, a 9.545 on the beam and a 9.444 on the bars. Pierce scored a career-best mark of 39.150 in the Bears' first home meet of the season against then top-ranked UCLA. She also posted career-high scores of 9.850 on the vault, 9.800 on the bars and 9.800 on the beam during the regular season."Mariesah competed all around all season until late February when she sustained a small injury," said Durante. "She has been cleared to train and we are hopeful that she will be able to represent her team on all four events. This is the first season Mariesah has qualified to regionals, a well deserved honor for all of her hard work and the upgrades she made this season."
O'Brien earned her second-straight selection to the NCAA Regionals, after scoring a 38.625 (9.650 on vault, 9.700 on bars, 9.575 on beam and 9.700 in the floor exercise) in the all-around in the NCAAs last season in Corvallis, Ore. She competed in the all-around in six of the Bears' 11 meets this season, including each of the last three competitions. She has averaged a score of 38.338 with a regional qualifying mark of 38.200. Her top event is the vault, where she has recorded a 9.730 average this season. She is also averaging a 9.617 on the bars, a 9.500 on the beam and a 9.425 in the floor exercise. The junior is coming off of a career-best score of 39.025 in the all-around in the Pac-12 Championships. She recorded a career-best mark of 9.850 twice on the vault and once on the bars during the regular season.
"Maddy qualified as an individual in the 2011 season," Durante said. "This season she has made several upgrades including her vault to a layout yurchenko full. She posted a career high 39.025 at the conference championship last weekend in Utah. Maddy has continued to improve each week and is in a position have her best meet of the year in Seattle."
Lew competed on the beam in 10 of Cal's 12 meets this season with an average score of 9.650. Her regional qualifying score in the event is 9.765. Lew posted a career-high score of 9.850 on the beam at home against Stanford earlier this season.
"Nikki is a beautiful beam worker with tremendous difficulty in her routine," said Durante. "She has worked all season on her consistency and the small details that make a good beam worker into a great one. I am looking forward to watching all three of them enjoy the reward of their hard work and represent their team.
O'Brien will begin the competition on the beam, and then move on to the floor exercise, then vault and finish on the bars. Pierce will begin on the bars, then move to the beam and then the floor exercise before finishing the day on the vault. Lew will compete on the bars during the fifth rotation of the event.
Fans can purchase tickets to the Seattle Regional through Ticketmaster online or the Husky Ticket Office in person by calling (206) 543-2200. Tickets are $12 for reserved seating, $9 for general admission adult, $6 for children and students and $4 for the group discount of 15 or more.
"The rest of our team is already back in the gym working towards next year," Durante continued. "These three student-athletes will be able to bring their experience back and share it with their teammates. It is such a great source of motivation for this team as we continue working towards our pursuit of qualifying to regionals as a team next season."