Women’s Gymnastics Preview

Teams: UC Davis, Alabama, LSU, Arizona, Iowa, Central Michigan and host Washington.
Where: NCAA Regional — Seattle, Washington
When: Saturday at 4 p.m.

Who to Watch: Junior Katie Yamamura excelled for the Aggies in 2012, landing slots on each roster and winning the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Gymnast of the Year award. Yamamura’s specialties are the vault and the uneven bars, but she is clearly talented in floor and beam as well.

Did you Know? Tiana Montell is the third freshman in UC Davis history to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. Her teammate Yamamura was the second Aggie to accomplish that feat in 2009.

Preview: UC Davis is sending two accomplished gymnasts to the NCAA Seattle Region Championship this year. Both Katie Yamamura and freshman Tiana Montell will be competing in the All-Around division.

As MSPF Gymnast of the Year, Yamamura certainly poses a threat to the competition. This will be the Palo Alto, Calif. native’s second NCAA appearance; she earned an all-around berth in 2009 and she finished 14th overall.

Yamamura came back from injuries in 2010 to win six MSPF Gymnast of the Week awards. She also impressed at the MSPF Conference Meet last week when she captured first-place in vault, uneven bars and most importantly, all-around gymnast. She tied her personal record, earning a 9.900 on vault and her overall score of 39.225 broke the previous UC Davis all-around record.

Coach John Lavallee has high hopes for Yamamura this weekend: “Katie’s had an exceptional season. If she goes out there and hits all four events she has a very good chance of qualifying for the National Championship.”

Montell is a first-time NCAA qualifier but she enters the meet fresh off of a performance that earned her the title all-conference All-Around champion. She is certainly no stranger to pressure, having earned two state champion titles as a high schooler.

“Tiana’s done an incredible job this year,” said Lavallee. “I’m excited for her to gain experience from this weekend.”

Lavallee is proud to be taking two athletes to the Regional meet this weekend. He is also excited to see how his team progresses next season.

“We’re only losing Erica Van Dyke on uneven bars this year,” he said. “We’re returning a lot of talent and I’m looking forward to next season.”

— Kim Carr

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