Saturday, Mar. 1 - 3:00 pm PT
Video Stream - pac-12.com
Live Stats - arizonawildcats.com
UCLA Travels to Arizona Saturday
The ninth-ranked UCLA gymnastics team (5-2, 5-1 in the Pac-12) travels to 20th-ranked Arizona (2-8, 1-4) on Saturday, Mar. 1 for a dual meet in McKale Center at 4pm MT/3 pm PT.
Saturday’s meet will be video streamed at pac-12.com. Live stats will be available at arizonawildcats.com.
In the Rankings
UCLA remains ranked No. 9 in the nation with a Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) of 196.530. RQS is determined by taking the top six scores, three of which must be on the road, dropping the high score and averaging the remaining five marks. The Bruins are ranked No. 7 on floor (49.255), No. 8 on bars (49.170), No. 12 on vault (49.200) and No. 15 on beam (48.900). Only two Bruin gymnasts are ranked this week - Olivia Courtney (No. 16 on vault and No. 17 on bars) and Sydney Sawa (No. 6 on floor). Samantha Peszek, who has been ranked No. 1 on beam all season, does not yet have enough competitions to have a RQS.
Bruins Score Big on Vault, Beam to Down Stanford
UCLA used season-high marks on vault (49.4) and beam (49.525) to defeat 12th-ranked Stanford on Feb. 22, 196.900-196.250. The Bruins jumped out to a four-tenths lead after the first rotation thanks to 9.925 vaults from Samantha Peszek and Olivia Courtney. Stanford regained the lead at the halfway mark after a sub-standard bars rotation by the Bruins, but UCLA rebounded with five marks of 9.875 or higher on beam to take a nearly half-point lead going into the final event. Sydney Sawa’s first career 10.0 on floor exercise solidified the UCLA victory over its conference foes, improving the Bruins’ record to 5-2 on the year. Courtney won the all-around with a score of 39.225 and tied with Peszek for the vault crown. Peszek placed first on every event in which she participated (vault, bars and beam), and Sawa won floor with UCLA’s first perfect 10 on floor in nine years.
Sawa Scores First 10.0
Senior Sydney Sawa earned the first perfect 10 of her career on Feb. 22 vs. Stanford with her alien battle floor exercise routine. Sawa has scored 9.9 or higher on that routine in every meet this year, averaging 9.936. Her 10 was the 102nd perfect 10 in UCLA history and the 38th 10.0 on floor exercise but the first since Kristen Maloney scored one at the 2005 NCAA Championships. Sawa is the 25th Bruin ever to score a perfect 10.
Peszek Named Pac-12 Specialist of Week
Senior Samantha Peszek was named the Pac-12 Specialist of the Week for the second time in three weeks and for the third time in her career. Peszek won all three events in which she competed in the Bruins’ dual meet win over Stanford, capturing first place on beam with a career-high-tying 9.95 and tying for top marks on vault (season-high 9.925) and uneven bars (9.825). Peszek’s vault was her first since the season opener on Jan. 11. She has been held out of two meets and limited to bars and beam for the others with a stress reaction in her foot. Peszek has seven individual victories in just 11 routines this season.
About the Wildcats
Arizona has faced a difficult schedule in 2014, competing against four of the Top 10 teams in the nation so far. The Wildcats have a season-high of 196.925, set Jan. 25 against Oklahoma. Arizona is led by Allison Flores, who has a season-high all-around total of 39.35, and Kristin Klarenbach, who has season-high marks of 9.9 on vault and 9.925 on floor.
The Series with Arizona
UCLA holds a 62-10 overall regular season record against Arizona. The Bruins have not faced the Wildcats in a non-Pac-12 Championship meet since the 2011 season, when UCLA placed second and Arizona third in a tri-meet against Georgia in Pauley Pavilion.
UCLA seniors Olivia Courtney, Sydney Sawa and Samantha Peszek have undoubtedly been the team leaders this season. The trio have combined for 26 of UCLA’s 35 individual wins, with Courtney winning 11, Sawa eight and Peszek seven. They are also setting the pace in 9.9+ scores, with Courtney totaling 12, Sawa 10 and Peszek six. Peszek has a 10.0 on bars, Sawa has a 10.0 on floor, and Courtney has a 9.975 on vault.
Courtney is an eight-time All-American who has won four Pac-12 individual titles, the most of any active gymnast in the conference. She has career-best marks of 9.9 or better on all four events, including 9.975 on vault and 9.95 on floor. Sawa earned All-America honors on floor exercise in 2011 and holds career-high marks of 9.9 or better on all four events, including 10.0 on floor and 9.95 on vault. Peszek is a four-time All-American and 2011 NCAA beam champion. Her career-bests are 9.95 or better on all four events, including a 10.0 on bars, set Feb. 8. Peszek is currently averaging 9.888 on vault, 9.9 on bars and 9.925 on beam.
Sophomore Sophina DeJesus is hitting her stride, posting big numbers for the Bruins in recent weeks. On Feb. 8, she set a new career-high with a 9.975 on bars. A week later, she earned a pair of 9.875s on bars and floor at Washington. Last weekend versus Stanford, she had career-highs marks of 9.9 on beam and 9.95 on floor.
Bynum Bringing the Goods
Sadiqua Bynum has transformed in 2014, bringing huge vaults and powerful tumbling on floor. Her last two meets, in particular, have been stellar. At Washington on Feb. 16, she tied her career-high with a 9.9 Yurchenko layout half vault and set a new standard on floor with a 9.9 after hitting a doule layout, double tuck and double pike. She nearly matched those marks a week later against Stanford, scoring 9.9 on floor and 9.875 on vault. Bynum averages 9.854 on vault and 9.786 on floor.
Mossett Most Consistent
Freshman Hallie Mossett has been one of UCLA’s most consistent athletes, hitting all 23 routines she has competed this season without a fall. She averages 9.775 or better on all four events, with a high average of 9.814 on beam. Prior to this season, Mossett had missed two years of competition due to injuries. She had two hip surgeries related to a car accident and then tore her ACL during her senior year of high school. Mossett, who has two all-around wins in three attempts, has twice earned Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honors.
Francis Makes History with Beam Dismount
Sophomore Danusia Francis achieved a gymnastics first on Jan. 11, becoming the first gymnast to do a sideways side aerial into a layout full dismount off the side of the beam. The difficult and innovative combo paved the way for a 9.9 score. She improved upon her score on Jan. 19, earning 9.925 to place first, and she tied her career-best on Jan. 25 at Utah with a 9.95. Last season at the NCAA Event Finals, Francis became the first collegiate gymnast to do a sideways side aerial on beam. (Note: Samantha Peszek also achieved an NCAA first on beam in 2011, becoming the first collegiate gymnast to compete a standing full, which she did to win the NCAA beam title.)
Francis, who tuned up for the season by competing at the World University Games and qualifying for floor finals, has been amazingly consistent, hitting all 43 of her collegiate routines in team competition without a fall. She sat out two meets in February due to a virus but returned last week to score 9.925 on beam and a meet-high 9.825 on bars.
Conference of Champions
The Pac-12 Conference has six teams ranked in the Top 25. Utah is 5th, UCLA 9th, Stanford 10th, Oregon State 14th, California 19th, and Arizona 20th. Arizona State does not have enough scores yet for an RQS. All eight Pac-12 teams were ranked in the preseason Top 25.
Each week during the season, Samantha Peszek hosts an episode of Bruin Banter on uclabruins.com. The show, in its second season, features an interview with a member of the UCLA team. This week’s interview will feature team manager Jordyn Wieber.
UCLA travels to Michigan to face the Wolverines and Utah in a tri-meet on Friday, Mar. 7.