When Cal State Fullerton plays host to its two final regular season meets this weekend, it most likely will be the final time the program will compete at Titan Gym.
Two years ago, due to California’s budget crisis, head coach Jill Hicks was told the program would be cut unless private funds were raised to continue operations. Hicks was able to raise the monies to stay afloat for the past two years, but the outlook looks bleak that the program will be saved for another season.
Not able to raise the required amount by March 1, a final decision from Fullerton’s administration regarding the program’s elimination should be made in coming days. The same fate is almost certain for Fullerton’s wrestling program. Hicks’ husband Dan is Fullerton’s wrestling coach.
“It’s a shattered dream,” Dan Hicks said. “I came here when this was probably one of the worst programs in the country, and two years ago we won the Pac-10 dual title. Gymnastics was recovering and doing well. After all of that, it’s really sad.”
Despite the disheartening situation facing Jill Hicks, her team and her family, the fifth-year head coach is incredibly positive.
“When I first took the job, they were only going to keep the program for a year,” Jill Hicks said. “I was an assistant coach and then they asked me to take the program for a year and then they were going to drop it – that was six years ago. It’s all perspective. You can look at it two ways. You can see it as a negative that the program is being dropped or you can see it as we kept the program alive for six years.”
Regardless of the program’s fate, seniors Alaina Baker and Shelly Cooper will be saying goodbye to Titan Gym for the final time.
“The last two seniors that are going to graduate – I really commend them because they’ve been through it all,” Jill Hicks said. “They’ve stuck it out and are doing great this year. It’s good to see them having a good season in the midst of all the chaos.”
Cal State Fullerton hosts San Jose State on March 11 in its annual “Pink Meet” for breast cancer awareness, and then concludes the regular season against defending NCAA champion UCLA on March 13. The Titans will then compete in the Western Athletic Conference Championship in San Jose on March 19. There is also a possibility of a few Fullerton gymnasts qualifying for the NCAA Regional meet before the sport is likely eliminated at the end of the season.
With Fullerton’s wrestling season already coming to a close last month, the Hicks’ will no doubt hold their heads high knowing they have done everything possible to save their respective sports before they move on to the next chapter in their lives.
“I see it as a new adventure waiting to begin,” Jill Hicks said. “I don’t focus on the negative. There are only so many things in life you can control. I’m kind of excited to see what’s next for us.”
Need to Know
• Nebraska senior Erin Davis recorded the second perfect 10.0 of the season, winning the vault in the 197.30-192.75 Huskers’ victory against Arizona State on March 6. Davis’ achievement was recognized by the Big 12 as she earned Event Specialist of the Week for the fifth time this season. The score pushed Nebraska to the fourth-highest team vault total in school history (49.575). The season-high total score was also the first time the Huskers reached the 197.00 mark since 2007.
• Utah’s Huntsman Center entertained an NCAA-record 15,558 fans as visiting No. 1 Florida squeaked out a 197.000-196.750 win against fifth-ranked Utah on March 4. It was the ninth time in the Huntsman Center’s history the facility has reached its 15,000-seat capacity. Utah’s only losses this season are to No. 1 Florida and then-No. 2 Stanford despite missing senior All-American Kyndal Robarts due to injury for most of the season.
• Oregon State sophomore Makayla Stambaugh garnered Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week honors for the second time this season as she sparked the Beavers to their first 197 score since 2009 in an upset of then-No. 2 Stanford last weekend. The native of Antelope, Calif., tied her career-best score in the all-around with a 39.525, and shared first place on the balance beam (9.825) in her first time competing on the apparatus since the first week of the season. The Beavers moved up to No. 5 in the latest national rankings following the performance, and lead the nation in the uneven bars with a 49.340 regional qualifying score.
• Alabama inched up to No. 2 nationally this week after posting its fourth consecutive 197-plus score to defeat Michigan on March 4. The Crimson Tide is the only team in the nation with four scores of 197 in a row this season. The Tide will go for a fifth consecutive 197 in a regular season finale versus No. 22 LSU on March 11.
• Stanford sophomore Ashley Morgan notched a career-high 9.95 on the floor exercise, stretching her winning streak to eight on the event. Morgan’s gave her sole possession of the nation’s No. 1 ranking in the event as she boasts a 9.925 RQS. It was also the highest score for a Stanford gymnast in any event this season.
• Boise State’s Amy Glass set a school record for season all-around victories in the Broncos win against Southern Utah last weekend. She scored a career-best 39.500 to win her eighth all-around title of the season. Glass also set a school record with her sixth balance beam title of the year.