April 5, 2006
Six Big Ten women's gymnastics programs were awarded bids to the 2006 NCAA Regionals to be held in facilities across the country on April 8, as the squads will compete for a berth in the NCAA Championships. The Big Ten has advanced two teams to the national finals in each of the last four seasons and recorded nine top-10 finishes in the last six years.
Minnesota, which snapped Michigan's seven-year Big Ten title streak with a winning performance at the conference championships on March 25, is the No. 5 seed in the North Central Region, which will be hosted by No. 1 seed Iowa State. The Golden Gophers will be joined by several Iowa standouts, who have qualified as individual competitors. Kortny Williamson will compete in two events - the vault and the floor exercise, while Danielle Legeai will take part in the balance beam event. Liz Grajewski will also join her teammates in Ames, Iowa, featuring her skills in the all-around competition.
Michigan is seeking its 14th consecutive bid to the NCAA Championships and the 15th berth overall to lead all league schools. The Wolverines have posted a top-10 finish in each of the last 13 years, including seven top-five finishes and a top showing of second place in 1999. UM is the No. 2 seed and will host the Northeast Regional.
The conference's remaining four participants are spread across the country in two different regionals. Penn State, which is aiming for its seventh NCAA Championships appearance since joining the Big Ten, nabbed a No. 3 seed and will travel to Baton Rouge, La., to take part in the Central Regional. The Nittany Lions will be joined by fifth-seeded Michigan State and No. 6 Ohio State. The Spartans will be vying for their second national final in school history, while the Buckeyes have made six NCAA appearances, most recently in 1990. Illinois, which is seeking its first NCAA berth, is the No. 4 seed and will compete in the South Central Region, hosted by No. 3 Arkansas.
Six teams, five all-around competitors (who are not on a qualifying team) and one individual event specialist per event were named to each of the six regions. The top two teams and the top two all-around competitors (who are not on an advancing team) from each regional will receive an automatic berth to the national championships in Corvallis, Oregon, April 20-22, hosted by Oregon State. In addition, the event winners at the regional championships will advance to the national championships (in that event only) if they are not a part of a qualifying team or the all-around qualifers.