Penn State to Face Nation's Best on Thursday
April 12, 2000; BOISE, Idaho - The Penn State women's gymnastics team is poised and ready to compete at the 2000 NCAA Gymnastics Championships in Boise.
Making their sixth consecutive NCAA appearance, 21st national championship appearance overall, the Nittany Lions will compete in a tough opening session on Thursday, April 13.
"We're very pleased to be here," Nittany Lion head coach Steve Shephard said at Wednesday's pre-meet press conference. "A lot of other teams could be here. We are fortunate to be here after a tough regional qualifying meet."
Competing with PSU in Thursday's opening session are Iowa State, Big Ten champion Michigan, Nebraska, UCLA, and West Virginia. The top three teams from each session advance to Friday's "Super Six" competition to crown the 2000 team champion. The top four individuals in each event from both preliminary sessions advance to Saturday's individual event finals.
"The parity this year is very strong," Shephard added. "It's going to be really tight. The team that makes the least mistakes will win. UCLA is strong and deeply talented."
Other head coaches also picked UCLA as the pre-meet favorite.
"I have to say UCLA is the most talented team," said Alabama head coach Sarah Patterson. "It will take a great performance. We've won five national championships, and we weren't the most talented team. You have to commend all the teams that are here. Look at how far our sport has come."
"UCLA has the talent from top to bottom," said Nebraska head coach Dan Kendig. "The rest of us will be fighting for second."
Some coaches were reluctant to pick a favorite.
"Whatever team wins the national championship will earn it. That will be the team that hits," said Michigan head coach Beverly Plocki, whose squad was ranked No. 1 nationally most of the season. "I try not to get caught up in picking the winner before competition begins."
"UCLA and Michigan have the most physical talent and depth," added Iowa State coach Amy Pyle.
"College gymnastics is about having fun and perfecting performance," said UCLA head coach Valorie Kondos.
In an appeal to get local fans to attend without Boise State is attendance, the Alabama coach summed it up best.
"It will be a four-ring circus," Patterson said. "Come early, stay late, and bring your binoculars. It will be dramatic."
All events will be held at Boise State University's Pavilion Arena.
Fans wishing to watch the events unfold live can access the BSU website for live scores at www.broncosports.com/g2k/
Final team results will be available at www.ncaachampionships.com
CBS will televise the NCAA Championship on a tape-delayed basis, airing on Sunday, April 23 at 1 p.m. EDT.
NCAA WOMEN'S GYMNASTICS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP Pavilion Arena, Boise, Idaho (all times are MOUNTAIN) Thursday, April 13: SESSION I, 1 p.m. Alabama, Brigham Young, Georgia, LSU, Oregon State, Utah SESSION II, 7 p.m.: Iowa State, Michigan, Nebraska, PENN STATE, UCLA, West Virginia Friday, April 14: Super Six, 7 p.m. Saturday, April 15: Individual Event Finals, 7 p.m.