The Huskies Remember Another Great Season
May 29, 2012
SEATTLE - After a slow start to the season, the Washington gymnastics team wrapped up a solid year and saw much success individually and as a team, ending the season ranked 18th in the country.
"We had some struggles early in the year on floor but then we started putting things together mid-way through the season," said head coach Joanne Bowers. "The gymnasts continued to train hard and compete at a very high level each week. We had more difficulty this year, but with that you sometimes take a step back on consistency. The team dynamic came through towards the end of the year and everyone was clicking more regularly. Each year, we are taking another step towards our goal of getting the team to NCAA Nationals and we did that again this year."
On April 28, the GymDawgs gathered at Maggiano's Little Italy to reminisce the season and to recognize the departing senior class of Hatsune Akaogi, Amanda Cline, Ruby Engreitz, and Anna Epps. Along with the nostalgia of the past four years, the seniors received many achievement awards for both academics and athletics. Engreitz received the 101 Club Scholar Athlete award and was named First Team Academic All-Pac-12 and Akaogi and Cline earned an Honorable Mention for Academic All-Pac-12.
Engreitz also received a Special Recognition award for bars and floor. Juniors Paige Bixler won for beam and Lauren Rodgers for vault. McKenzie Fechter won "Most Consistent", Kylie Sharp for "Heart of a Champion", and Top Dawg of the Year went to Rogers. The coaches awards went to Aliza Vaccher for "In Competition", Megan Whitney for "In Classroom", and Bixler for "In Life".
Vaccher represented the University of Washington individually for the second-straight year at the NCAA Championships in Duluth, Ga., and finished 20th in the session 2 all-around, posting a score of 38.925. Freshman McKenzie Fechter also traveled to Duluth, Ga., as an alternate.
The GymDawgs hosted the 2012 NCAA Regionals at Alaska Airlines Arena. They faced stiff competition including eventual national champion Alabama and LSU. With only two teams advancing to the NCAA Championships, UW went into the final rotation barely behind of highly-ranked LSU. LSU ended up narrowly edging out UW on beam to earn the bid to NCAA Championships by a quarter of a point.
The Huskies traveled down to Salt Lake City to compete in the Pac-12 Championships. Coming off of posting season high scores in the weeks before, the GymDawgs uncharacteristically struggled in the beam and bar routines. With a motivational speech and a call to action from Bowers, UW headed into the final rotation to compete on floor. The Huskies fought hard and posted a 49.125, their highest score of the day and the highest of any team that session.
Engreitz earned nine individual titles this season, including three on bars, four on floor, and two in the all-around. Earning second-team All-Pac-12 honors on floor, she posted her highest score for the season with a 9.875 in the win against top-ranked UCLA. On senior night, the Huskies posted a season-best 196.350. The score not only earned Bowers her 50th win with the Huskies, but 100 career wins as well. The same meet, Rogers marked her career-high on bars with a 9.925. Before heading off to Pac-12 championships, the GymDawgs posted their highest road score of the season against Cal. With the help of setting season-high scores on beam (49.100) and floor (49.125), the Huskies finished the regular season with back-to-back scores above 196.
After coming off a narrow loss to then No. 14 ranked Stanford and posting a myriad of career and season highs, the UW Gymnasts took on No. 1 ranked UCLA at home the next week. The GymDawgs were tied with the Bruins with a score of 146.4 going into the last rotation, but the judges changed Vaccher's beam score, giving UW a narrow .025 lead before headed to the floor exercises. Vaccher and Engreitzy set season and career-highs, respectively, nailing their routines to seal the victory for UW in front of a crowd of 1,600 cheering fans. Winning 195.350-194.600, UW beat No. 1 UCLA for the first time since 2004 and for the third time in school history.
The Huskies announced the hiring of former US Olympian, Elise Ray, to the coaching staff in the fall of 2011. As an assistant coach, Ray primarily helps with choreography and dance for beam and floor. In addition to her coaching expertise, Ray helps out with recruiting efforts.
The Huskies were very competitive in each event this season. On vault, Rogers, Cline, Vaccher and Fechter stepped up and consistently performed well. On bars, Engreitz, Akaogi, Rogers and Fechter. On beam, Bixler, Fechter and Whitney were strong. And for floor, Fechter, Engreitz and Rogers were strong competitors. This season, the GymDawgs had more gymnasts compete in the all-around than ever before with Fechter, Engreitz, Vaccher and Rogers.