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    April 14, 2007

    The UIC women's gymnastics team embarks on its eighth all-time NCAA Regional on Saturday night when the Flames compete in the six-team NCAA South Central Regional Championship in Tucson. John Jaramillo of the UIC Sports Information Office is with the team at the University of Arizona's McKale Center and will provide live updates via the first-ever UIC Women's Gymnastics TumBlog exclusive to uicflames.com.

    GREETINGS FROM TUCSON

    Good evening everyone. This is John Jaramillo from the UIC Sports Information Office, here in Tucson with the UIC women's gymnastics team as they prepare for tonight's NCAA South Central Regional. The girls have been excited all weekend and are ready to get this thing going.

    It has been a great trip so far. This is a great group of ladies; they've been nothing but fun and kind throughout. I've been at UIC for four years, and it's been cool to see Jess, Jessie and Rachael, the three ladies who came to UIC the same year I did, soak in the fun as they prepare for their final competition.

    We're about 90 minutes away from the march-in of the teams. Warm-ups are going on, and the Flames are currently on bars. After talking with the ladies a little while ago, everyone is pumped and ready to put on a show.

    All the girls seem to be eager but calm. They were joking around a little bit while getting taped up by one of UIC Sports Medicine's finest, Masayuki Fujihashi. But they also know the task at hand and immediately turned their attention to getting ready when warmups began.

    Everyone is healthy and ready to go.

    Remember to keep up with the meet throughout the evening with the TumBlog (yes, it's the words "tumbling" and "blog" meshed together...cute, huh?) and the live scoring page on the right sidebar of the women's gymnastics page at uicflames.com.

    Updated April 14, 2007 at 4:35 PDT.

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    PETER'S TAKE

    I just spoke with UIC co-head coach Peter Jansson, and here's what he had to say about tonight's meet:

    "It's very exciting to finish up your season on the floor with some of the best teams in the nation, especially after having such a good run at the end of the season. This is exciting.

    "The seniors get to go out in style and basically, who knows? Someone slips up somewhere, and I think with our performance the last couple of weeks we could capitalize on that and make for an exciting night."

    Words from a wise man.

    Updated April 14, 2007 at 4:42 PDT.

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    A FAMILY REUNION

    Numerous family members of the team were able to make the trek out to Tucson (shout out to all those family members who couldn't make it and who are tracking the meet at home). Two I just chatted with were Jackie Jaworowicz and Justine Jaworowicz, the sisters of Jessie Jaworowicz.

    As some of you know, Jackie was a three-year letterwinner for the Flames. She still holds the school floor exercise record (9.95) and was named the 2005 NCAA South Central Regional Co-Gymnast of the Year in her final season. Justine is a freshman at UIC who redshirted this season. Both send good luck wishes to the UIC women's gymnastics team through the TumBlog.

    Also among the many Flames faithful in attendance supporting the team is UIC single-season home run record-holder Bart Babineaux. I've had the privelege of traveling with the UIC baseball team (who split its doubleheader with Wright State today) the past two years, and Bart is a great guy who just hit the stitches out of the ball last year.

    Less than 15 minutes to march-in...Flames finishing up warmups on vault.

    Updated April 14, 2007 at 5:47 PDT.

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    BYE, BYE, BYE (ACTUALLY, WE ONLY HAVE TWO BYES)

    With the march-out complete and the Star-Spangled Banner sung, it's time for the three-minute touch period. UIC will be on...their seats, as both the Flames and Arizona have first-rotation byes.

    Joining the Flames during their rotations will be some familiar faces. Meaghan Koshman of Illinois State, Jena Nguyen of SEMO and Courtney Arno of TWU will rotate with UIC as individual qualifiers. All three are from schools in the Midwest Independent Conference. Also in the mix with the Flames is Natalie Blum of friendly in-state rival Northern Illinois.

    Updated April 14, 2007 at 6:20 PDT.

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    LEO WATCH

    In honor of the vivid uniform descriptions provided by Cubs play-by-play man Pat Hughes of WGN Radio, here's a try by me:

    "Flames in their felt leotards, blue background, red flame on the left side, red, blue and gold ribbons holding up their hair, removable UIC Flames primary logo tattoos smattered on the right cheekbones."

    Lilly's first pitch is a strike.

    Peter's got the UIC shirt with a blue tie rocking as usual (gotta go with what works), while Mary has the blue jacket-white pants combo tonight.

    Other notable leo observations with the help of the Illinois SID sitting to my right (who shall remain nameless due to privacy rights):

    -Arizona State has gone with the Glad look...they appear to be made of a black trash bag (no offense, ASU fans - just something you don't see every meet).

    -Oregon State has a beaver head on the left side of their sparkle-filled outfits, with an "OS" mark on the back.

    -Illini are going with a nice one-third orange, two-thirds blue diddy.

    The Cardinal of Stanford have a giant black "S" on the red leo.

    Updated April 14, 2007 at 6:31 PDT.

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    HERE WE GO

    UIC is now in the mix as we begin the second rotation. The Flames are on bars, with the lineup like this:
    Justine Weyer
    Jessie Jaworowicz
    Ashley Thurston
    Annie Kachman
    Kristen Kulinczenko
    Zandre Labuschagne

    Flames to watch on bars: Thurston (MIC Champion on bars, been on fire of late), Labuschagne (top RQS on bars, pretty consistent).

    Justine fell off midway through but finished strong to lead off. Weyer with a 9.05. Jessie just completed a nice routine of her own to get a 9.625. Here comes Ashley. She earns a 9.6. Annie time. Kachman cards a 9.5. Double-K up next. Kristen sticks her landing after a hiccup in the routine, gets an 8.8. Big Z up next. Another fantastic routine on UB by Zandre should get a decent score...9.45. The MIC bars champ paces the Flames.

    UIC bars finish (keep in mind these are unofficial until verified at the end of the meet:
    1. Jessie - 9.625
    2. Ashley - 9.6
    3. Annie - 9.5
    4. Zandre - 9.45
    5. Justine - 9.05
    6. Kristen - 8.8

    Probably not the start the team envisioned, but bars can be up and down for us. 47.325 as a team. Scoring also gets a little tougher on the big stage. Time to go to beam.

    Updated April 14, 2007 at 7:16 PDT.

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    BIG GYM WEEKEND

    I couldn't let a gymnastics blog go by without giving due to our men's gymnastics team, who sent a healthy contingent of student-athletes to the National Collegiate Men's Gymnastics Championships at Penn State this weekend. We had two all-arounders, Tim Morrison and Anthony May, compete in the all-around finals, which marked only the second and third UIC gymnasts ever to do so and first to move on to the NCAA all-around finals since 1980, their first year of Division I competition. Kudos to Tim (a finalist for the Heisman of men's college gymnastics, the Nissen-Emery Award and a darn good fella) and Anthony (who still has two years left in the UIC gym). More congrats to the list of individual qualifiers we sent to University Park.

    On the subject of UIC's Division I history, today is the 25th Anniversary celebration of our Division I status. UIC Athletics is honoring the first NCAA postseason teams and inducting some big-time contributors to our D-I success back at the Flames Athletic Center. Give 'em a good show, MC and Sully.

    Updated April 14, 2007 at 7:19 PDT.

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    BEAM ME UP

    Time for balance beam. Lineup is as follows:
    1. Kristen Kulinczenko
    2. Ashley Thurston
    3. Zandre Labuschagne
    4. Annie Kachman
    5. Rachael Zelinski
    6. Jessie Jaworowicz

    Kristen joked about the hard part is getting back on the beam after a fall, not staying on the beam. No need to worry...she stays on and earns a 9.65. Good start. Ashley does well. Good view of the beam right in front of the press table. Ash gets a 9.7. Z is on. It's amazing how loud the sound of a gymnast's feet-first landing on the balance beam can get. Zandre will get the Flames another good score. AK getting ready. 9.5 for Zandre. Annie does it again...a good routine and UIC's best stick on beam so far. 9.775 for Kach. Rachael Marie Zelinski...you're next. Rach falls off midway, but recovers quickly. She does a nice Ryu kick a la "Street Fighter II" and sticks her landing for a nice rally, 9.3. Dub-J to cap the rotation for UIC. Everything is perfect until a late imbalance (not good on the "balance" beam) forces a fall. Another 9.3 for a 47.925.

    Updated April 14, 2007 at 7:39 PDT.

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    RANDOM THOUGHTS DURING ANOTHER BYE

    With UIC's second bye coming in the fourth rotation, here are a couple of things I'm thinking about:

    -SEMO's Bryanna Wong has a nice 20-second cut of "You Dropped the Bomb on Me" by Gap Band in her floor exercise routine music...reminds me of baseball games, since that's what is played when the Flames hit a homer. How appropriate with Babineaux in the building.

    -We're at a 95.250 right now...but we have what I think are our two best events coming up in floor and vault. Good time to make up some ground.

    -Tucson weather rocks right now.

    -If I don't want the Cubs to lose but I do want to hear Lou Piniella go off in postgame press conferences, how can I get the best of both worlds?

    -Denny Wills is huge.

    -Justine Weyer is the most competitive Win, Lose or Draw player I've ever seen.

    I'll be back when rotation five is up.

    Updated April 14, 2007 at 7:59 PDT.

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    HITTING THE FLOOR

    Time for the fifth rotation, which means the Flames face floor. Here's the lineup:
    1. Beth Kliver
    2. Ashley Thurston
    3. Jessie Jaworowicz
    4. Justine Weyer
    5. Rachael Zelinski
    6. Annie Kachman

    Beth competes for the first time tonight as the leadoff floor performer, with a mix of Michael Jackson tunes as her music ("The Way You Make Me Feel," "Billie Jean" and "Beat It" - wished there was a little "Thriller" sprinkled in). The sophomore does well and gets a 9.55. Ashley does the barndance with good results. 9.575. Jessie gets a 9.55 after a good finish. J-Dub on the mat. The theme from The Pink Panther is dabbled in Justine's music...nice touch. 9.525 for Weyer. Rachael's ready for her final collegiate performance. She keeps focus and the golden smile even as the crowd releases a loud "ooooo" following a fall on bars as she starts her floor routine. She turns in an awesome finish and blows the final kiss to end the routine. 9.775. Annie stretches out in preparation to cap off the event. All eyes in the McKale Center on Annie with all the other events complete. She gets a 9.425. One more event to go. 47.975 on floor, 143.225 after three events.

    Updated April 14, 2007 at 8:43 PDT.

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    VAULTING TO THE END

    Time for the sixth and final rotation, which finds the Flames on vault. Lineup is:
    1. Zandre Labuschagne
    2. Beth Kliver
    3. Annie Kachman
    4. Jessie Jaworowicz
    5. Jessica Panos
    6. Justine Weyer

    The crowd reacts after Arizona's Brittney Morgan gets a 9.9 on beam...pretty impressive. Stanford had at least one 9.9 in each event. Z vaults and gets a 9.0 leading off. Beth up next...she leaps to a 9.6. Annie earns a 9.7 on her vault. Time for Jessie's final stand as a collegiate competitor. She falls and gets a little emotional since it's her last time...hopefully she remembers the entire excellent body of work she's put together as a gymnast these last four seasons. Time for another finale with Jess. She vaults, lands, gets just a bit off balance but recovers before a fall occurs. Jess gets a 9.55 to conclude her career. Justine's next...she sticks and posts the best vault of the night for the Flames with a 9.75. That concludes the meet for the Flames, who will finish with a 47.7 on vault and a sixth-place 190.925 final tally. Stanford will win the regional with a 196.6, while Oregon State will join the Cardinal at the NCAA Championships with a runner-up 196.075 to edge the host Wildcats.

    Updated April 14, 2007 at 9:15 PDT.

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    THE END

    Thanks to everyone for tuning in. It's been a great season for UIC women's gymnastics. Great job by a wonderful group of young ladies and a fine cap to the careers of the three seniors. The seniors will check in with a diary entry at uicflames.com later.

    GO FLAMES!

    Updated April 14, 2007 at 9:18 PDT.

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