Jan 10, 2018
Another battle against a nationally-ranked opponent looms for the Sacramento State gymnastics team. Just four days after taking on 11th-ranked Cal and 18th-ranked Stanford at the NorCal Classic, the Hornets will welcome No. 18 Washington to The Nest on Friday, Jan. 12.
The meet will be the home opener for Sacramento State this season and will also serve as Kids Day. All children 12 and under will receive free admission to the meet.
Following the competition, Hornet gymnasts will be signing autograph posters. Friday night’s meet will also be the annual Parents Meet. Sacramento State gymnasts will be joined by their parents for march-in.
Those that cannot attend the meet can follow live stats on hornetsports.com as well as a free video stream on Pluto.TV.
Washington has yet to compete this season. The Huskies will have a quick turnaround as they compete on Sunday in Reno against Utah, UCLA and Stanford.
The Huskies finished last season ranked eighth in the nation, their best finish since 1997 and second-best finish ever. All-Americans Hailey Burleson (all-around) and Madison Copiak (bars) return, as well as all-Pac-12 Conference honoree Joslyn Goings (beam). Kristyn Hoffa (floor), Zoey Schaefer (beam), Malory Rose (beam), and Haley Roy (vault) are also back after winning individual events for UW in 2017.
Washington is coached by Elise Ray-Statz who is in her second season. Ray-Statz made an immediate impact last year, earning Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors after guiding the Huskies to the NCAA Championships for the first time in 20 years. Ray-Statz competed at Michigan and was a member of team USA which won the bronze medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
UW leads the all-time series against the Hornets, 17-0. The Huskies will be making their first appearance in The Nest on Friday. The teams last met in Seattle in 2015 but the majority of the meets (11) have come at neutral sites or at NCAA postseason regionals (three).
THE LATEST ACTION
Sacramento State opened its season with strong performances on beam and floor but counted falls on vault and bars en route to a fifth-place finish at the NorCal Classic on Monday at Stanford. The Hornets scored 192.875 but were unable to catch the rest of the field. Cal, which is ranked 11th in the preseason poll, won the NorCal Classic for the second consecutive year with a 195.475. Host and 18th-ranked Stanford was second at 194.925. San Jose State (194.475) and UC Davis (194.400) finished third and fourth, respectively.
Sacramento State opened the meet on bars and finished with a total of 47.950. Senior Courteney Ng and freshman Jordyn Brent opened the rotation with each scoring 9.775. The Hornets then had falls on their next two routines before senior Annie Juarez bounced back with a career best 9.800 to tie for sixth place in the meet. Caitlin Soliwoda completed the rotation with a 9.525.
The Hornets saw a half-point improvement on beam during its second rotation. Freshman Kendra Braida opened with a 9.575 in her first collegiate routine. Jackie Sampson followed with a 9.625 and the team closed with a 9.750 from Lauren Rice, a 9.700 from Caitlin Soliwoda and a 9.800 from Courtney Soliwoda who tied for eighth place.
Senior Jennifer Brenner led off on floor and finished with a team best 9.800. Sacramento State counted four other scores between 9.725 and 9.775 during the event and totaled 48.775. Rice ranked second among the team with a 9.775.
The Hornets’ surge ended on vault during its final rotation. The team was forced to count a fall and finished with a total of 47.700. Juarez tied for second place in the meet with a 9.800 from the anchor spot in the lineup. The senior’s score was her best since a 9.825 as a freshman in 2015.
CALL IT A COMEBACK
The last time Annie Juarez competed at full strength came midway through her freshman season in 2015. Juarez started her collegiate career with highs of 9.825 on vault and 9.875 on floor in six meets. However, a foot injury ended her season early and forced her to miss all of 2016 and most of 2017.
After two surgeries, the Westfield, Ind., native has worked her way back — learning to run differently to alleviate pressure on her foot. She emerged as a possible all-arounder during the fall and found herself in the lineup in three events at the NorCal Classic. Juarez responded by scoring a team-best 9.800 on vault, a career and team high 9.850 on bars and 9.725 on bars. Combined with her 9.600 in an exhibition on beam, the senior had a four-event total of 38.975 which would have placed her sixth in the meet.
Just a week before the season began, it looked like there was a possibility of four Hornet gymnasts competing as all-arounders at the NorCal Classic. Instead, Sacramento State had just one with senior Lauren Rice. The three-time NCAA Regional qualifier opened her year in a tough way with two falls on bars in the opening rotation. However, she was able to bounce back with a 9.750 on bars, a 9.775 on floor and a 9.600 on vault.
Caitlin Soliwoda was slated to compete as an all-arounder but was pulled from the lineup after injuring her heel on beam.
Juarez, freshman Jordyn Brent and junior Jackie Sampson each competed in three events. Brent began her collegiate career with a 9.775 on bars, a 9.725 on floor and a 9.625 on vault. Sampson set a career high with a 9.750 on floor, scored 9.625 on beam but fell on her dismount on bars.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
The Nest has been kind to Sacramento State in its recent home debuts. The Hornets have averaged 194.360 in their last five home openers. The team has been very consistent during the stretch with the five scores ranging between 194.500 against Seattle Pacific in 2013 to 194.250 in a pair of meets.
Last season, Sacramento State accounted for at least a share of all four individual event titles as well as the all-around in a win over San Jose State.
NEWS & NOTES
The NCAA will use a new format this season which continues to take the top 36 teams but places them at four regionals instead of six…freshman Kendra Braida joined Brent as the only two newcomers to compete at the NorCal Classic for Sacramento State…senior Jennifer Brenner led the team with a 9.800 on floor despite performing in the leadoff spot in the lineup.