GymDawgs Begin 2013 Season At Minnesota
Jan. 9, 2013
SEATTLE - The road to Los Angeles for the 2013 NCAA Championships begins this week as the No. 17 GymDawgs head to No. 23 Minnesota for a dual meet on Saturday at 4 p.m. PT.
After narrowly missing out on NCAA Nationals as a team the past two seasons, head coach Joanne Bowers, in her seventh season, believes this team has what it takes to get Washington into the top 12. Washington hosted NCAA Regionals a year ago, placing just a quarter of a point behind No. 9 LSU.
The Pac-12 pre-season poll had the Huskies in fifth while the national coaches poll once again put the GymDawgs in the top 18.
Five seniors look to lead the Dawgs into the right direction starting with co-captains Paige Bixler and Lauren Rogers. Bixler is one of the top Dawgs on beam and floor and Rogers had a breakout junior season competing in the all-around. Fellow seniors Phoebe Tham, Megan Whitney and Kylie Sharp look to make huge contributions as well.
The lone junior, Aliza Vaccher made NCAA Nationals in each of her first two seasons at the UW in the all-around and has continued to train at a high level in the off season.
Three freshmen shined at the 2012 Intrasquad meet and can score some big numbers for the Huskies this year. Sheridan Metcalf, Kiersten Graber and Allison Northey will all compete for spots in several lineups as well.
The first test of 2013 is on the road against another top 25 opponent. Minnesota is led by head coach Meg Stephenson. Freshman Lindsay Maple and senior Janelle Campbell were named to the Big Ten's gymnast to watch list this season.
Minnesota finished third last season in the Big Ten after being ranked seventh in the preseason. The Golden Gophers produced two individual competitors to the NCAA National Championships: Kayla Slechta and Dusti Russell, qualifying more than one individual since 2002. Juniors Slechta and Russell finished 14th and 16th respectively in the all-around. Minnesota scored a 196 or higher four times in 2012, which is the most since 2004.
Washington and Minnesota last matched up in 2007 in Minneapolis, where UW fell 194.375 to 194.075.