The 1995 NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships will be held in afternoon and evening preliminary sessions Thursday and Super Six finals on Friday night at Athens, Ga. Individual-event finals are Saturday night. All-around championship decided by Thursday's competition.
Here are capsulized looks at the 12 teams qualified, listed in order of seeding for this meet. Odd seeds compete Thursday afternoon, evens Thursday night; top 3 teams from each session go to Super Six:1. GEORGIA - Easily the favorite with, as always, the most sheer talent and this time competing at home. Ranked No. 1, 13-2 record. High score 197.625. Three all-arounders above 39.50 - Lori Strong (39.775), Kim Arnold (39.60) and Leah Brown (39.525). Regular-season losses to Alabama and, minus two suspended regulars, to Utah. Tumultuous year with reprimands, suspensions and deep personal problems. In '94, Utah waded through a year of disruptions and won the NCAAs at home. Now it's Georgia's turn to grit it out. Coach Suzanne Yoculan's nothing-held-back style means sky-high scores or falls. NCAA team titles in 1987, 1989, 1993.
2. ALABAMA - Central Region champion (196.675); school-record 197.20 vs. Georgia March 4; 15-1 record. Spent season cleaning up every bent toe and finger - still mindful of .05 NCAA loss to Utah in '94. Very clean, elegant. Could be 'Bama's year; at home competing next door in Georgia. Only team ranked in top 5 in Thursday's evening session, so Tide should easily make Super Six field Friday. NCAA vault record (49.75 at SEC Championships, led by Kim Kelly's fourth career 10.0). Freshman Merritt Booth has team-high floor (9.925) and No. 2 vault (9.975). AA highs include Kim Kelly (39.725), Meredith Willard (39.35), Chasity Junkin (39.225). NCAA team titles 1988, 1991.
3. UTAH - Defending 1994 champ, ranked No. 2 in final poll, 16-1 record, 9-1 vs. NCAA Finals field, school-record 197.875 in final home meet is nation's highest of '95. Senior Suzanne Metz is NCAA AA record-holder (39.95 March 25). NCAA's top-ranked beam team (NCAA-record 49.65 March 25, 49.306 average). Top AA: Metz, Aimee Trepanier (39.50), Traci Sommer (39.45), Sandy Woolsey (39.40). Only eight gymnasts leaves little room for error, but Utah hasn't made many errors. NCAA team titles 1982, '83, '84, '85, '86, '90, '92, '94.
4. UCLA - West Region champ, 26-5 record, 196.475 high vs. Georgia March 12. Three solid AAs (Kareema Marrow, 39.60; Stella Umeh, 39.475; Leah Homma, 39.475) and good specialists including Salt Lake's Megan Fenton (bars) give Bruins a shot at first NCAA title.
5. MICHIGAN - Second Central Region, 197.225 high March 18, 24-2 record. Top AAs Beth Wymer (39.80), Heather Kabnick (39.475), Wendy Marshall (39.425). Can't be counted out.
6. FLORIDA - Third SEC, second Southeast Region, beat Utes when Trepanier and Woolsey were attending a funeral, 9-7 record, high 195.70. Came on late in season. Top AA Kristen Guise (39.65).
7. LOUISIANA STATE - Third Central Region, second SEC, 14-4 record. D-D Pollock named SEC co-coach of year with Alabama's Sarah Patterson. Hasn't been to NCAAs since '91 but has outside chance. Jennifer Wood among NCAA top 5 AA, Kristy Savoie in top 8.
8. OREGON STATE - Second West Region, high 196.375, 10-4 record. Top AA Amy Slack (39.225). Kristy Snyder 10.0 vault.
9. NEBRASKA - Surprise second Midwest Region (at home) with school-record 194.725, 27-9 record. Top AA Kim DeHaan (39.275).
10. BRIGHAM YOUNG - Third Midwest Region, high 194.175 March 25, 8-8 record but peaking late. Like Utah short on bodies but in best health of season as evidenced by move from No. 18 NCAA final ranking to 10th seed. Pointing for Super Six placement. Best AA Nanette Walker (39.45), Elisabeth Crandall (39.20), Cristen Cosgrave (39.125).
11. WEST VIRGINIA - First NCAA appearance thanks to 193.325-third at Southeast Region. High 195.50 March 25, 15-6 record. Top AA Kristin Quackenbush (39.40), Karla Hairston (39.375).
12. PENN STATE - Region score (191.225) lower than Arizona State, Arizona, Stanford, Washington and Utah State but makes NCAA finals as automatic qualifier from traditionally weak Northeast Region. High 194.30, 17-13 record. Top AA Joanna Knox (39.0).