April 6, 2005
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Five of the seven Big Ten women's gymnastics programs were awarded bids to the 2005 NCAA Regional Championships to be held in facilities across the country on April 9, 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 three seasons and recorded seven top-10 finishes in the last five years.
Michigan, which earned its seventh straight Big Ten Championship on March 27, is seeking its 13th consecutive bid to the NCAA Championships and the 14th berth overall to lead all League schools. The Wolverines have posted a top-10 finish in each of the last 12 years, including six top-five finishes and a top showing of second place in 1999. UM is the No. 2 seed in the South Central Region, which will be hosted by No. 1 seed Nebraska. Michigan will be joined by Conference-foe Illinois in Lincoln as the Illini are the sixth seed.
The Conference's remaining three participants are spread across the country in two different regionals. Penn State, which is aiming for its sixth NCAA Championships appearance since joining the Big Ten, nabbed a No. 2 seed and will travel to Seattle, Wash., to take part in the West Regional. Minnesota is the No. 4 seed and will be joined by No. 6 seed Iowa in the North Central Region in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Gophers have made two NCAA appearances, most recently in 2002, while the Hawkeyes will be vying for their third consecutive national final.
Several Big Ten standouts have also qualified as individual competitors at the Central Regional hosted by the University of Alabama. Ohio State's Elizabeth Meaney will compete on the beam and Buckeye Kaylin Schlecht will take part in the bars competition, while teammate Karley Walek will feature her skills in the all-around competition. Michigan State's Chayla Hill will also compete in two events - vault and floor exercise.
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 Auburn, Ala., April 21-23, hosted by Auburn. 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.