UCLA Gymnastics Travels To IGI/Chicago Style Classic

Feb. 8, 2012

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Valorie Kondos Field Weekly Press Conference

No. 7 Bruins at IGI/Chicago Style Classic -- The seventh-ranked UCLA gymnastics team (4-1, 3-1 in Pac-12) will face three other Top 20-ranked teams in No. 15 Boise State, No. 18 Missouri and No. 19 Illinois at the IGI/Chicago Style Classic at Navy Pier on Friday, Feb. 10 at 7:30 pm CT.

Live Coverage -- Follow @UCLAGymnastics on Twitter for score updates from Friday's meet.

In the Rankings -- With a season average of 196.435, UCLA remains at No. 7 in the national rankings for the second consecutive week. The Bruins are No. 2 on vault (49.440), No. 9 on bars (49.000), No. 8 on beam (48.930) and No. 6 on floor (49.065).

Individually, Samantha Peszek remains ranked fourth in the all-around (39.488 average) and is seventh on vault (9.906) and beam (9.875). She also ranks tied for 17th on floor (9.869). Vanessa Zamarripa ranks first in the nation on vault with a 9.935 average. Three other Bruins are ranked in the Top 25 on vault - No. 7 Peszek, No. 14 Olivia Courtney (9.888), and No. 21 Tauny Frattone (9.875). Zamarripa ranks 12th on bars (9.860), and Courtney is 23rd (9.833). Aisha Gerber is tied for 15th on beam (9.842), and Zamarripa checks in at 22nd (9.825). Alyssa Pritchett ranks 13th on floor (9.875).

About the Bruins -- UCLA returns eight All-Americans from last year's NCAA runner-up squad, including reigning NCAA beam champion Samantha Peszek and 2010 NCAA vault champion Vanessa Zamarripa, who redshirted a year ago with a torn Achilles tendon. Other All-Americans back for UCLA are 10-time All-American Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs, two-time honoree Aisha Gerber, 2011 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Olivia Courtney, Monique De La Torre, Tauny Frattone and Sydney Sawa. The Bruins also bring in an outstanding freshman class, led by 2010 U.S. floor exercise champion and World Championships silver medalist Mattie Larson, as well as U.S. national team member Cassie Whitcomb.

The Bruins are coached by UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame member Valorie Kondos Field. She is assisted by Associate Head Coach and 1992 Olympian Chris Waller. New to the staff in 2012 are familiar faces to Bruin fans - assistant coach Randy Lane, who helped guide UCLA to two NCAA titles and was the 2000 NACGC/W National Assistant Coach of the Year, and volunteer coach Amy Smith, who was the co-captain for UCLA's 1997 NCAA championship team and an assistant coach at the University of Missouri from 2007-11.

About the Opponents -- Boise State (3-2) ranks 15th in the nation with a season average of 194.963. The Broncos, who have a season-high score of 196.175, are led by senior Amy Glass, who ranks second in the nation on beam with an average of 9.888. Missouri (5-0) ranks 18th nationally with an average of 194.915 and a season-best of 195.925. The Tigers are led by Rachel Updike, who ranks No. 13 on vault (9.890) and No. 20 on beam (9.830). Illinois (2-1-1) holds the No. 19 national ranking with an average of 194.800 with a season-best of 195.700. Amber See is the team's highest-ranked gymnast, checking in at No. 7 nationally on floor (9.888).

In regular season competition, UCLA is 7-0 all-time vs. Boise State, 1-0 vs. Missouri and 3-0 vs. Illinois.

Midwest Bruins Head Home -- Midwest Bruin gymnasts Vanessa Zamarripa, Samantha Peszek and Kaelie Baer will have a chance to compete closer to home this weekend in Chicago. Zamarripa is from O'Fallon, Ill. and trained at Midwest Twisters. Peszek (Indianapolis, Ind.) and Baer (Columbus, Ind.) trained together at DeVeau's in Indianapolis. Additionally, assistant coaches Chris Waller and Randy Lane both have ties to Illinois. Waller grew up in Mt. Prospect, Ill. and trained at American Academy of Gymnastics before enrolling at UCLA and becoming a three-time NCAA champion (1987 team, 1989 pommel horse, 1990 high bar). Lane was a member of the 1989 Illinois NCAA Men's Gymnastics National Championship squad and the 1988 NCAA Championship runner-up squad. He was also a member of the 1988 and 1989 Big Ten Championship teams.

UCLA Has Super Performance vs. Stanford -- On Super Bowl Sunday, UCLA defeated Stanford, 197.250-196.450, in a home dual meet. The Bruins had to make adjustments to their lineup due to an ankle injury to Aisha Gerber on Thursday and illness striking Olivia Courtney Sunday morning, but their replacements came up big, with several even delivering career-best marks. Samantha Peszek won the all-around for the fourth time in as many attempts, setting a new career-high with a score of 39.55. Lichelle Wong and Mattie Larson, both thrust into the all-around due to Courtney's illness, tied for second place with carer-best scores of 39.325.

Zamarripa Earns Pac-12 Honors -- For the second time this season, redshirt junior Vanessa Zamarripa earned Pac-12 Special Performance of the Week honors, receiving the award after her performances on vault and uneven bars vs. Stanford on Feb. 5. Zamarripa helped the Bruins beat Stanford by winning both the vault and uneven bars with scores of 9.950 on each event. The win on vault was her third in five meets this year, and her 9.950 on the bars was the highest score by any Bruin on that event this season.

Wong Continues Strong All-Around Performance -- For the second consecutive week, junior Lichelle Wong earned a Top 3 all-around finish, tying for second place vs. Stanford with a career-high 39.325. This was just the second career all-around competition for Wong, who also scored career-highs on vault (9.85) and floor (9.9) and set a season-high on bars (9.8). Wong competed leadoff on beam for the second straight meet, and her 9.775 set the tone for a team score of 49.25.

Larson Hits All-Around Best -- Freshman Mattie Larson had her best all-around meet of her short collegiate career, scoring a personal-best 39.325 to tie for second place vs. Stanford. Larson scored a career-high 9.875 on floor to tie for fourth place and also tied her career-best on vault with a 9.875. She added marks of 9.775 on bars and 9.8 on beam.

Super-Consistent Sophomores -- Sophomores Samantha Peszek and Olivia Courtney have been as consistent as they get for the Bruins. Peszek has hit all 18 of her routines this season, with no score dipping below 9.775 and 17 of the 18 going 9.825 or higher. She has won the all-around in every meet in which she has competed all four events, improving her all-around score at each meet, with last week's meet seeing a 39.55. Peszek, who sat out the first month of last season with a foot fracture and was limited to no more than three events the rest of season, has posted career-highs on all but one event this year, earning high marks of 9.925 on vault and beam and 9.9 on floor.

Courtney, who sat out last week's meet due to illness, has hit 11 of 12 routines for 9.7 or higher, with seven of her 12 routines scoring between 9.875 and 9.925. Since week two, she has averaged 9.859 on her routines, and against San Jose State on Jan. 22, she scored a career-high 9.9 on bars, went 9.9 on vault and a season-high 9.875 on floor.

Vault Powerhouse -- UCLA's vault lineup has been among the best in the nation this season. The Bruins are averaging 49.440 on the event and have scored 49.5 or better in three of five meets. Four Bruin vaulters are ranked in the Top 25 nationally - No. 1 Vanessa Zamarripa (9.935 average), No. 7 Samantha Peszek (9.906), No. 14 Olivia Courtney (9.888), and No. 21 Tauny Frattone (9.875). Additionally, Mattie Larson averages 9.867, and Kaelie Baer averages 9.830 as the leadoff vaulter.

The Bruins' vault total of 49.575 at Cal ranks as the sixth-best vault score in school history, while the 49.55 from the season opener against Utah ranks as the seventh-best.

Zamarripa Finds Perfection Again -- Over a year after rupturing her Achilles tendon and sitting out the 2011 season, Vanessa Zamarripa is back to her perfect ways, recording a perfect 10 on vault on Jan. 15 in just her second meet back from her injury. The 10.0 was the fifth of her career. Only one other Bruin gymnast has scored more 10s on vault (Jeanette Antolin - 12), and Zamarripa now ranks fifth on UCLA's all-time list for most perfect 10s, tying with Kristen Maloney.

Zamarripa has scored 9.9+ on vault in 14 consecutive meets and in 27 of 33 meets in her career. She has never scored lower than 9.8 on vault and holds a career average of 9.922. She has also hit 56 consecutive routines in team competition.

Looking Ahead -- UCLA travels to Oregon State for a tri-meet against the Beavers and California on Friday, Feb. 17.

UCLA to Host 2013 NCAA Championships -- UCLA will host the 2013 NCAA Championships in Pauley Pavilion on Apr. 19-21, 2013. Pauley Pavilion will have a new look by 2013, as it is currently under renovation. It will be reopened for intercollegiate athletic competition in Fall 2012. This will be UCLA's fourth time hosting the NCAA gymnastics championships. The Bruins won the national title the last time they hosted in 2004, scoring an NCAA record 198.125. UCLA also previously hosted in 1998 and 1984.

UCLA Health Sponsor - Event Information
Saturday, Apr 02
vs. NCAA Regionals
Salt Lake City, UT
2nd, 196,375
Friday, Apr 15
vs. NCAA Team Semifinals
Fort Worth, TX
3rd, 196.700
Saturday, Apr 16
vs. NCAA Super Six
Fort Worth, TX
5th, 196.825