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GYMNASTICS UCLA INVITATIONAL : Umphrey and Keswick Give Bruin Men Lead

TIMES STAFF WRITER

They spent the summer on the U.S. Gymnastics national team, earning much-needed seasoning while competing against European superpowers and elite U.S. athletes who do not compete collegiately. Now, back at UCLA, juniors Scott Keswick and Chainey Umphrey are putting their summer experience to work by leading their team to the top-ranked spot in the country.

UCLA, ranked No. 1 in the nation, might have its best men’s gymnastics team since those of 1984 and 1987, says Art Shurlock, who has coached the Bruins men’s team since 1964.

“This team may be more like 1987, with Tony Pineda, Chris Waller, David Moriel, it is so strong,” Shurlock said. “We still have things to work on, but we are ahead so far this year.”

After three events of the UCLA-Times men’s and women’s gymnastics invitational at Pauley Pavilion Saturday night, the UCLA men are also ahead, leading second-place Nebraska in total points, 142.050 to 141.950. Arizona State is third at 140.850, followed by New Mexico and Minnesota tied at 139 and Illinois at 135.950.

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Umphrey won the individual rings competition with a 9.9 score and tied Christian Rohde of Arizona State for first on the pommel horse with a 9.85. He tied for first in the floor exercise at 9.7 with three other gymnasts--teammate Brad Hayashi, Nebraska’s Che Bowers and Minnesota’s Leif Carlson. The all-around leader is Umphrey at 29.45, followed by Keswick at 29.15.

In the women’s field after two events, Oregon State leads at 96.4, followed by UCLA at 95.1, Arizona State at 94.7 and California at 92.650. UCLA sophomore Amy Thorne won the uneven bars with a score of 9.8 and Christine Belotti of Arizona State won the vault with a 9.9. The all-around leader is Oregon State’s Chari Knight, a freshman.

The remaining events and team competition concludes today at 2 p.m.

UCLA’s 1984 team, with Tim Daggett and Mitch Gaylord, was more celebrated than any other that Shurlock has coached. Those gymnasts went on to compete for the gold-medal winning 1984 Olympic team. But if Umphrey and Keswick get their way, their 1992 collegiate year will conclude with a trip to the Summer Olympics in Barcelona.

“That’s what I am aiming for,” Umphrey said. “This summer it was great competing, and with each competition I am improving, which is my goal.”

Umphrey, 21, works hard at building strength, to give him flexibility when performing. But he says he is somewhat lucky, because his muscular build is hereditary.

“My mom and dad are muscular and athletic,” Umphrey said. “And my sister, Frances, is a good high school basketball player. It kind of runs in the family.”

Umphrey Jr., as his brother Greg is called, is also on the Bruins’ gymnastics team. Umphrey, whose home is in Albuquerque, N.M., also has another brother and two other sisters.

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Umphrey won the all-around title at the 1990 U.S. Olympic Festival and a gold medal on the rings. At the U.S.-Soviet meet, he scored 58.5 points out of a possible 60 and was the best American finisher in the all-around and the rings. He is ranked in the top 20 collegiately in every event except the vault, and is first in the rings and horizontal bar.


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