DeFrancesco, Judal, Montell and Nogaki make UC Davis known on big stage
The highly competitive NCAA Regionals held at Berkeley’s Haas Pavilion on April 4 was a melting pot for athletes from all over, hailing from Georgia to Utah. UC Davis was able to send four qualified individuals to the meet, following stellar performances from each earlier in the season.
As a team, the Aggies have been a powerful force for the entire season, bringing in five first-place finishes, with the most recent resulting in UC Davis reclaiming their spot as the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation [MPSF] champions.
“[It was] probably the most intense gymnastics meet I have ever been involved with,” said Head coach John Lavelle when describing the championships.
Narrowly missing the team qualification for the regionals – the top 36 teams are allowed to compete against each other – the MPSF meet concluded with seven athletes receiving all-MPSF honors, four of which then qualified for the NCAA Regional individually.
Senior Tiana Montell entered the meet as an all-arounder, and was joined by senior Kala DeFrancesco on the floor, junior Dani Judal on beam and sophomore Katy Nogaki on vault.
With Judal scoring a 9.850 on the beam, the Aggies received the highest individual placing of the day, ending fifth out of 42 competitors. Montell finished with a 9.725 and was tied for 19th.
Even with Judal’s lofty score, Lavallee said that it should have been higher.
“She should have won the beam,” said Lavallee. “[One] judge thought it was the best routine of the day on balance beam… [Judal performed at] the elite level.”
On vault, Montell came through with a 9.875, tied for 9th with three others. Only 75 thousands of a point separated those who tied for first and Montell’s final score. Nogaki finished the event in 41st with a 9.675.
Both Aggie seniors – DeFrancesco and Montell – tied for 25th in the floor event, brandishing a 9.750 apiece.
Montell was the lone Aggie on the bars, tying for 30th with a score of 9.725.
By the end of the meet, Montell finished in eighth place in the all-around results, scoring a total of 39.075 – the fourth time she has surpassed 39 points this season. Additionally, the 9.875 that she earned in vault is the best an Aggie has ever done in a post-season event, and her all-around score was the first Aggie performance that broke past the confines of 39 points in a NCAA Regional.
“I’m really happy that I ended my career that way,” said Montell. “I didn’t really pay attention to the scores that much during the meet… [but] when I saw that I was 39 in the all-around, it was really exciting.”
After an outstanding season of significant victories, and with some of these athletes’ careers completed, their results must be put into perspective. Because of this, it is worth it to mention that all of the women competing in the NCAA Regional’s are at the top of their game. Each and every score received in this event would be a high contender in any other meet. These are the best around.
Graphic by Jennifer Wu.