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Saturday, April 23, 2005
UNC's Bumpers takes floor exercise

Associated Press

AUBURN, Ala. -- UCLA's Kristen Maloney couldn't secure another team title, but she gave herself a nice send-off nonetheless.

The fifth-year senior won the balance beam and the vault titles at the NCAA women's gymnastics individual event finals Saturday night for a triumphant finale to an injury-marred career.

"Yeah, it's great to win the beam and vault, but that wasn't really a goal of mine," said Maloney, who endured five operations on her right shin, missed two seasons of competition and was part of three national champions. "It's just extra icing on the cake."

She won the first two events with matching scores of 9.9375. She outdistanced Iowa State's Janet Ansen (9.90) and LSU's April Burkholder (9.8875) on the vault, while two-time defending champion Ashley Miles of Alabama was fourth.

Maloney was only the second collegiate gymnast to attempt the Yurchenko laid-out double-twist on the vault, joining Olympian and former UCLA star Mohini Bhardwaj.

"She's competing in skills nobody else in the country is competing," Bruins coach Valorie Kondos Field said. "It's a true testament to her spirit and her toughness. She's a little flit of a thing, but she has a will of steel."

In the beam, Maloney beat out Nebraska's Kristi Esposito and Michigan's Elise Ray -- the 2002 winner -- who each scored 9.9125.

Maloney was a 2000 Olympian who was only able to compete in Sydney after having a titanium rod inserted in her shin. She had a 10 on the floor in Friday night's team finals, but the Bruins still finished fourth.

"I thought a lot about not winning the other night. It just wasn't our time," Maloney said. "You can't be that greedy because we won three national championships. I hope every team gets to feel that."

North Carolina's Courtney Bumpers, competing as an individual qualifier, scored a perfect 10 to capture her second straight floor exercise title. She tied with Alabama's Ashley Miles last season to give North Carolina its first individual gymnastics championship.

Competing just before Bumpers, Miles was a close second with a 9.975 after getting a 10 in Friday night's team finals.

Alabama freshman Terin Humphrey won the uneven bars with the night's last routine, scoring 9.9375. She won the silver medal in that event at the Athens Olympics and beat out Kelsey Ericksen of NCAA champion Georgia (9.925). There was a three-way tie for third.

"Coming from the Olympics, it was harder for me to actually have fun with gymnastics, but my team and my coaches have definitely made that happen," Humphrey said. "It's so much fun to go out there and just as exciting as the Olympics."