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Action continues on Day 2 at U.S. Collegiate Championships

Linsey Ann Stucks won her qualifying round with an impressive score of 75.65.
Linsey Ann Stucks won her qualifying round with an impressive score of 75.65. (Ryan Hayward of 5marks)

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(08/14/2007) - The short programs took center stage on Day Two of the 2007 U.S. Collegiate Championships at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. The biggest surprise of the day was the University of Illinois' Michael Peters opening up a seven-point lead on 2007 U.S. silver medalist Ryan Bradley, a student at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Senior Ladies Short Program
It was a tight race for first place in the senior ladies short program, but with a score of 42.48, Linsey Ann Stucks of Oklahoma State University took the lead.

Stucks, who won her qualifying round with an impressive score of 75.65, appeared to be the clear winner of the short program after landing a triple toe loop-double toe loop combination as well as a double Axel. But after turning her triple Salchow into a double, Stucks' grasp on the lead seemed unsure. She continued to push through, however, earning a level four on her spiral sequence, and she closed her program with an impressive combination spin, launching her to the top.

"The ISU judging system makes the whole program challenging now," Stucks explained. "You really need to focus on step sequences, spins and spirals because you can gain points from anything." In a close second is veteran skater and Oakland University student Lindsey Weber with a segment score of 42.21. Weber, who has only been training for this competition for one month, earned the highest total program component score (19.05) of all the senior ladies. She skated another almost flawless program, landing a double Lutz-double toe loop combination and a double Axel.

Weber seems to be enjoying just participating in this event.

"The rink is just gorgeous," she said of the Goggin Ice Center, "And I really like how it is a relaxed environment, and there isn't as much pressure as other events I've competed in."

Another Oakland attendee, Ameena Sheikh, is in third. Skating to an exotic medley, Ameena took to the ice looking poised and determined after a less-than-perfect qualifying-round performance.

"Today I really stayed focused; even though I messed up on the first jump, I didn't let that affect me," Ameena said about her performance, "Mentally, for me, that was good."

In fourth place is University of Illinois senior Lauren Roman with a score of 39.41.

"There's a lot I can improve upon from the qualifying round, and I just hope I can have fun and enjoy myself," Roman said about the upcoming free skate, which commences Tuesday afternoon.

Senior Men's Short Program The senior men lit up the arena with their huge jumps and sophisticated, mature programs. Peters, who finished second here last year and represented the U.S. at the 2007 Winter World University Games, skated well enough to earn a lead of more than seven points heading into the free skate.

Peters took a risk last week that paid off, changing half of his short program music.

"The whole program used to be 'The Passion of the Christ,' but we switched the end to 'The Last of the Mohicans' to build and end on higher note, " he explained. "It worked well, and I really didn't change the step sequences or choreography that much."

Of course, nailing three jump elements - a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, a triple flip and double Axel - didn't hurt either.

"In the free skate, I want to keep the momentum going and skate another program like I did today. I have two triple Axels planned, and it would be great to get good attempts at both of them," said Peters, who will take 56.75 points into the free skate.

In second place is Bradley, who didn't have his best skate, falling on a triple Axel and popping a triple Lutz into a single. He did land a triple flip-double toe and didn't let the fall affect his performance. Bradley had the highest component scores in the event, performing to music from "The Godfather" soundtrack.

"This is my first time out this season. I've only had the program for two weeks, and it needs a little time to mature," Bradley said. "I really love the music, and picked 'The Godfather' because it has always been one of my favorite movies. I think the mafia persona is really cool, and we choose to take a little different route and tell the love story."

Bradley earned 49.66 for the short program. Jonathan Cassar finished in third, less than one point behind Bradley, with 49.03 points.

Junior Ladies Short Program The University of Delaware skaters continued their winning ways by taking the top two spots in the junior ladies short program.

Laura Stefanik, who last competed at this event in 2005 and will begin her senior year at Delaware, put out a strong performance that included a double Lutz-double toe combination and a well-executed double loop. Though she fell on the double Axel, she pulled it together with strong spins and spirals, and the highest program component marks of the competition.

"I was very happy with how I did," Stefanik said. "I really like skating the spiral step sequence, but the jumps and step sequence are probably the most challenge part. I have to really focus on the steps to make sure I do everything correctly to get the calls."

Stefanik earned a total of 30.42 points for her short program and is looking forward to the free skate.

"I really want to commit to my jumps tomorrow and skate with a lot of energy."

Delaware sophomore Jazmyn Manzouri secured the second spot in the short program with 28.29 points. Manzouri was happy with her double Axel, which she nailed right off the bat. She also attempted a triple Salchow-double toe combination, but the first jump was downgraded to a double, costing her a few points.

"I'm happy with how I did," Manzouri said, "But I'd really like to improve my transitions and in-between skating. It was really nice, though, to land a clean double Axel."

Manzouri, who won the silver at last year's event, is again enjoying the competition.

"It's great to have the opportunity to compete with skaters who are also working hard in college and value education, but still continue to compete in figure skating," she said.

In third place is Jamie Darling, representing the Morrisville State College. Darling skated a solid program, which was highlighted by her spiral step sequence, for which she received a level four. Darling will enter the free skate with 26.97 points, followed by Rachel Nevares of Northern Virginia Community College, who is on her heels with 26.61 points.

Junior Men's Short Program
While only four men entered the junior competition, it proved to be a tight group, with just more than five points separating first and fourth place. In first after the short program, with 41.26 points, is University of Delaware Blue Hen Taylor Toth. Toth opened his program with a triple Salchow-double toe loop combination and followed it up with a double Axel, for which he earned a string of +1 GOEs.

In second place, and less than one point behind with a score of 40.62, is Pine Kopka-Ross, who trains at the Detroit Skating Club and is a student at the University of Michigan. Kopka-Ross had a rough start, popping a triple loop into a single, but he quickly pulled it together, landing a clean triple Salchow-double toe loop combination and a double Axel.

In third place is Boston University's Schuyler Eldridge, who has 38.99 points. Eldridge opened his program with an attempt at a triple Lutz but fell, consequently missing the combination. A slip on a triple loop attempt, which was downgraded to a double, cost him the lead after the segment.