Wednesday, March 23, 2011
History Lesson: 2004 NCAA Northeast Regional Championships
This season has been a particular dud for the NCAA. With so many top teams failing, it makes us long for the days when the depth of the field was up and healthy competition was abound.
Back in 2004, numerous teams were gunning for the NCAA Title. Conventional wisdom had that it would be between UGA and UCLA, but Michigan was always making a splash. I was present for this competition and it is one of my favorite competitions that I've ever been to.
While seeing quality gymnastics from the likes of Sierra Sapunar and Elise Ray was something to behold, there was nothing like seeing Chelsa Byrd power through a floor routine that mounted with a double layout and ended with a full in at 22 years of age.
The Gym Dogs were hungry for a title that year and unlike the teams who pretend to be in their own huddle and oblivious to scores, Yoculan's team erupted when the announcer made it known that they had achieved the top qualifying score, ahead of UCLA by a sizable margin. Cory Fritzinger literally bounced from her seat. There's something refreshing about seeing a team not just want to do their best, but absolutely slaughter the competition. It is called excitement.
Note how disinterested Elise Ray is in being interviewed by Shannon Miller after an exhausting meet where she was much better than her teammates yet again.