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Senior ladies qualifying rounds complete at Collegiates

Broussard, Chambers and Morrow come out on top

Central Oklahoma's Mirielle Chambers won the senior ladies group A on Thursday. She is pictured with Dana College's Irene Pullum and Colorado College's Tatyana Khazova.
Central Oklahoma's Mirielle Chambers won the senior ladies group A on Thursday. She is pictured with Dana College's Irene Pullum and Colorado College's Tatyana Khazova. (Kelly Hodge)

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By Kelly Hodge, special to icenetwork.com
(07/31/2009) - The 2009 U.S. Collegiate Championships opened this afternoon with the qualifying rounds for the senior ladies. The Philadelphia Skating Club and Humane Society, a quaint arena in Ardmore, Pa., is the perfect venue for this event with its intimate setting, large windows and history of figure skating that goes back to the 1800s. The area is also home to numerous small colleges such as Bryn Mawr and Haverford.

The first two skaters to open the competition ended up setting the bar high, taking the top two spots in qualifying round A. Mirielle Chambers, a sophomore at the University of Central Oklahoma, took the top spot with a segment score of 63.02. Chambers, skating to "Scheherazade," opened her program with a Level 4 spin combination and followed it with a solid double Axel. Though she did not attempt either of her planned triple jumps, she was pleased with her skate.

"It felt pretty good. I know that I've trained really well, and I could have done better, but I'm really happy with everything," she said. "Last year I finished fifth in the qualifying round and barely made it to the final, so sitting in first feels really good."

Rikki Wescott, who is competing at this event for the first time, is a student at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Wescott, skating to a classic rock piece by Rush, finished less than two points behind Chambers to take the second spot with 61.11 points. Like Chambers, she struggled with the more difficult jumps, changing both of her planned triple jumps to doubles. She did land a solid double Axel-double toe combination and earned Level 3s for all of her spins.

"I'm extremely happy with how I skated," she said. "It was huge for me to get the double Axel out of the way early and done well. I really needed to do that."

Tatyana Khazova, who will begin her freshman year at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colo., is sitting in third place with 58.18 points. Khazova, who qualified for the 2009 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, opened with a solid triple loop; the only triple jump landed in the competition, but had problems with the remaining jumping elements.

Jessica Zhang, who attends the University of Missouri-Kansas City, is in fourth with 58.47.

Qualifying round B turned out to be a very tight competition, with just a ten point spread from first place all the way to eleventh place. It was Lynzee Broussard, who attends Aquinas College and trains at the Grand Rapids Figure Skating Club in Grand Rapids, Mich., however, who set herself apart earning a total of 64.21 points for her free skate to music from the musical West Side Story. Decked out in an elegant white dress trimmed with red, Broussard opened her program with a double Lutz, and went on to land five additional solid double jumps, but it was her spins and spirals that set her apart from the group and helped her earn a technical elements score of 29.29. Broussard earned Level 4s for all four of her spins, including a layback which included an excellent Biellmann position.

Allison Bereswill had a long wait, drawing to skate last in the 14 skater field, but it was worth the wait. She opened her program with a clean triple Salchow, and even though she touched her hand down, it was one of the few triple jumps completed all day. She did struggle with several other jumps, including two additional triple jumps that were doubled.

"I'm happy with my program even though there were a couple of mistakes, said Bereswill, who will begin her freshman year at Southern Methodist University this fall. "I made some mistakes, but I really enjoyed skating to the music and the parts of my program where I could really focus on the choreography.

Bereswill sits in second place with 61.41 points.

Just below Bereswill is Meghan Speranzo, with 61.28 points. Speranzo, who trains with Doug Ladret at the Coyotes Skating Club of Arizona, is making a move across the country to begin her freshman year at Quinnipiac University. Speranzo skated with a powerful style to music from the World Trade Center soundtrack. She nailed her first double Axel-double toe loop combination and followed it up with a three jump combination, but two falls later in the program cost her greatly.

Just a hair behind Bereswill and Speranzo is Amanda Jagow from Oakland University with 61.04 points. The most decisive victory of the evening came in group C where Chelsea Morrow, an incoming freshman at Grand Rapids Community College, earned 81.60 points in her free skate to easily take the lead. Marrow donned a soft grey and black dress and floated across the ice with confidence to Swan Lake.

"I'm really happy with how I skated. I did pretty much everything in my program, said Morrow. "The first combination, triple toe-double toe-double loop, was my favorite part because it gave me a lot of confidence for the rest of the program." Morrow went received full credit from the technical panel for that jump, and picked up an additional point for her + 1 GOEs. She also landed two solid double Axels, four more clean double jumps and earned Level 3 or Level 4 for all of her spins and step sequences.

Going into the short program, Morrow, who has never been part of Team USA in the past, has set her sight on the top.

"I came to this competition because I thought I had a chance to place near the top in the final round, and it would be really cool to get to go to an international competition," she explained.

In second place with 63.55 points was Stephanie Lecheler, who drove to the event with her father from Keonsha, Wisc., Lecheler's powerful music suited her skating style. Her only mistakes were her double Axels being downgraded by the technical panel, and popping a double Lutz into a single. She was rewarded on spins, receiving a Level 4 on all three in addition to a Level 4 on her spiral step sequence.

Lexi Ibanez, a sophomore at UCLA, and a member of the Glacier Falls FSC, is excited to go into the final round in third place, with 57.38 points. Ibanez was one of the few skaters to choose fast, upbeat music, skating her program to Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.

"I wanted more lively music this year, and I really like it. It suits my personality a lot better," said Ibanez of her music choice. "I'm looking forward to tomorrow and I want to skate my personal best in the short program. The placement doesn't matter as much as that I skate for myself."

Elizabeth Melton, a student at Stanford, sits in fourth place with 54.52 points.