Chippewa Gymnast To Compete For National Title

Updated 4/15/2004

April 15, 2004

LOS ANGELES - Central Michigan University gymnast Sara Burtinsky will compete in the all-around competition at the NCAA Championship Meet in Los Angeles, Calif., on Thursday evening.

Burtinsky is the only Chippewa that qualified for the event in 2004 after CMU sent three to the championship meet last season. It will be Burtinsky's first time competing in the NCAA meet.

The junior will take part in the second of two sessions on Thursday that begins at 7 p.m. Each session has six teams competing and six individual all-arounders taking part. Burtinsky will begin on the bars and travel to each rotation with the University of Utah squad.

The all-around competition will be decided on Thursday with the top 12 finishers earning All-America honors. Individual event champions will be crowned on Saturday. The top six finishers in each event at Thursday's preliminaries will advance to the finals.

"Sara has a good chance of making the finals on bars or beam," said CMU head coach Jerry Reighard. "She has routines that are equal to anyone that I have seen. She is also a big meet competitior and she should handle the pressure well."

Burtinsky has had an outstanding season, leading the Chippewas to an undefeated Mid-American Conference season and their second straight MAC title. She won the bars, beam and all-around competitions at the MAC Championship. The junior from Oshawa, Ont., also won the bars and finished fourth in the all-around at the NCAA Central Region Championship.

Burtinsky has recorded career highs in every event this season. She notched a 9.900 twice on vault, a 9.950 on bars, a 9.900 on floor and set the school record with a 9.975 on the beam. She had the second-best score in school history with a 39.600 in the all-around.

Burtinsky will be the sixth Chippewa to compete at the NCAA Championship. Kara Reighard, Sarah Dame and Katie Teft all qualified last year, Nikki Liphardt in 2000 and Nicole Bills in 1999.