UW-La Crosse and Bulka - Unprecedented and Unstoppable

The University of Wisconsin at La Crosse Eagles won an unprecedented 6th consecutive national title with a 186.250 total over second place Ithaca College (183.900) and University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh (183.750).  Rounding out the field were host school SUNY-Brockport (183.650), MIT (182.700), Ursinus College (182.525) and UW-Eau Claire (179.425). Gustavus Adolphus had previously won 5 consecutive team titles from 1990-1994 and the Eagles have not only toppled that mark, but there does not seem to be any end in sight to their current reign.  The closest any team has come to stopping this amazing run was SUNY-Cortland in 2003 when they finished just .175 behind.  In the other 5 years, UW-La Crosse was one by an average of over 2.4 points.  At this year's Championships held in Brockport, NY on March 24th and 25th, the Eagles did not have a particularly good competition, but seemingly, neither did any other team with the Uneven Bars claiming victory over many a quality gymnast in the meet.  The one team to escape the Uneven Bars victorious was UW-Oshkosh who posted the highest score on the event 45.70 by nearly a full point over UW-La Crosse 44.80.  Ithaca College was tops in team Floor 47.925 over UW-La Crosse's 47.675 and the host Golden Eagles claimed the team vault 47.200 over the Eagles 46.975, but Barbara Gibson's squad claimed the Balance Beam 46.800 over second place MIT 46.350 and won comfortably - again.  It is the 11th overall title for Barbara Gibson and UW-La Crosse Eagles and even though they will lose two outstanding senior contributors to their team in Jennifer Houle and Nina Schubert (more on their contributions in a moment), coach Gibson always seems to have some new talent coming in and keeping the level high and the standard for others to aspire to.

Speaking of high level and outstanding performances, SUNY-Brockport junior Sarah Bulka became the first gymnast in NCGA history to defend her All-Around crown with a similar dominating performance 38.475 over Ursinus College junior Jessica Furman 37.575.  Ursinus also claimed third place with the East Regional champion Bree Morrissey just behind her teammate 37.425.  UW-Eau Claire senior Lynn Morris completed a great career with a 4th place 37.325 followed by MIT's sophomore Sophia Harrison 37.300, UW-Oshkosh sophomore Teresa Phipps 37.075, Ithaca's junior Kelly Stevison 36.900, MIT's freshman Julia Zimmerman 36.825, UW-Whitewater freshman Danielle Crinzi 36.600 and UW-Stout senior Rhian Paulson 36.575.  Bulka's 38.475 is the second best All-Around score in NCGA history and qualified for Event Finals on every event.  In finals, she claimed her first National Vault title and third national title overall with a new NCGA mark of 19.500 two-day combined score.  On the Uneven Bars, it was the Queen of Swing for the third consecutive year - UW-La Crosse senior Nina Schubert who broke her own NCGA mark with a 19.625 two-day score and now owns the top three national bars' scores of all-time.  Balance Beam was another successful defense by last year's winner Jennifer Houle from UW-La Crosse (19.275), as she added her name to an exclusive list of national champions with multiple titles.  On the Floor Exercise, it was first-time winner Theresa Lynch from UW-Eau Claire who finished ahead with a 19.425 score.

Twenty six seniors joined the NCGA All-Academic team by maintaining better than a 3.0 GPA over their entire career.  For the 11th year in a row, 100% of MIT's senior class was recognized.  The NCGA's top honor, the Outstanding Senior Award went to a very deserving and overwhelmed Lindsey Marranca of SUNY-Cortland who tore her ACL following the first meet of the year and was unable to defend her national floor title.  The coach of the year award was given to Nadalie Walsh of UW-Oshkosh.

Complete Results of the Meet:  Team | All-Around | Vault | Bars | Beam | Floor

Some interesting facts and observations....

The NCGA individual event combined score records will now stand for eternity as the association has voted to do away with the two-day combined score and will move to "new life" starting with the championships in 2007.  Interestingly enough, only Floor Exercise would have been different at these championships if the titles would have been determined only by the score of the second day of competition.  Ithaca's senior Krystal Kaminski and MIT's freshman Julia Zimmerman would have tied for first place.

 - UW-La Crosse's team title is their 11th and now lead Gustavus by two in the All-Time Leaderboard
 - UW-La Crosse's two individual event champions moved them into first place in the All-Time list with 23.
 - UW-La Crosse, SUNY-Brockport and Ithaca College tied with 5 total team All-American Awards which kept the Eagles and Bombers in 1st and 6th place respectively, but allowed Brockport to claim sole possession of 7th place which they had shared with MIT.
 - Brockport's Sarah Bulka's 4 individual All-American awards (AA,VT,UB,BB) give her a total of 8 for her career, also matched by Lynn Morris of UW-Eau Claire who garnered 2 (AA,BB) at these championships and puts them in a very exclusive club with only 11 other gymnasts on a list that is lead by Ann Kelly (Hamline University) with 14 total awards.
 - Nina Schubert's third national title on a single event (Uneven Bars) match a record also held by Cortland's Danin Squires (Balance Beam) and Sulekha Modi (Uneven Bars)
 - Jennifer Houle's second national title add her to a short list of 18 gymnasts who have two or more National Titles on the same event and 30 gymnasts with more than one individual national title.
 - Lindsay Marranca became Cortland's first-ever Outstanding Senior, a list that is lead by MIT and Gustavus Adolphus with 5 total recipients of the award