Feb. 22, 2012
No. 6 Bruins Host No. 24 Sun Devils -- The sixth-ranked UCLA gymnastics team (7-1-1, 3-1-1 in Pac-12) will host 24th-ranked Arizona State on Sunday, Feb. 26 at 2 pm at the John Wooden Center.
Throwback Sunday -- Sunday's meet will feature a nod to the past as the Bruins will don a leotard from the past to represent the team being back in the Wooden Center this season. The team is also encouraging fans to dress up in 80's gear.
Charitable Efforts -- Several charities that are near to the hearts of the Bruin gymnasts will be highlighted at this meet, including UCLA GlobeMed and Soles 4 Souls. A collection bin will be on site accepting new and gently-used shoes to be donated to Soles 4 Souls.
2013 Season Tickets On Sale Sunday -- It's never too early to plan ahead. Beginning Sunday, fans can purchase season tickets for the 2013 season. Every 2013 season ticket ordered by Mar. 11 earns you a gumball, which you can redeem from a giant gumball machine at one of the remaining two home meets this season (Feb. 26 vs. Arizona State and Mar. 11 vs. Oklahoma). Whatever color you get will determine your prize. Prizes include t-shirts, sweatshirts, invitations to the team banquet, tickets to the 2013 NCAA Championships, and much more!
In the Rankings -- With a season average of 196.543, UCLA moves up one spot to sixth in the national rankings. The Bruins are second on vault (49.418), eighth on floor (49.111) and beam (48.961) and ninth on bars (49.054).
Three Bruins are ranked in the Top 15 in the all-around - No. 7 Samantha Peszek (39.445 average), No. 12 Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs (39.375) and No. 15 Vanessa Zamarripa (39.325). Zamarripa remains ranked No. 1 in the nation on vault (9.938), and she is joined in the Top 25 on vault by Olivia Courtney (No. 10, 9.896), Samantha Peszek (No. 17, 9.890) and Monique De La Torre (No. 21, 9.875). On uneven bars, three Bruins are in the Top 20 - Zamarripa (No. 17, 9.857), Hopfner-Hibbs (No. 18, 9.850) and Courtney (No. 20, 9.846). Aisha Gerber is the lone Bruin ranked on beam, checking in at No. 19 (9.830), while on floor exercise, Peszek ranks No. 17 (9.865).
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 Sun Devils -- Arizona State (4-3, 2-2 in the Pac-12) ranks 24th in the nation with a season average of 194.514. The Sun Devils, who hold a season-high of 195.875, also rank 18th on beam (48.600) and 23rd on bars (48.686). Senior Beaté Jones, a 2009 all-conference performer, has competed in the all-around in every meet this season and holds a season-high mark of 39.3. Head coach John Spini has been at the helm of the Sun Devil program for 32 years.
In regular season competition, UCLA is 49-23 all-time vs. Arizona State and has not lost to the Sun Devils since Jan. 26, 2001 in Tempe, a streak of 21 consecutive wins.
All Tied Up at Oregon State -- Fighting through adversity and a modified lineup, UCLA came from behind to tie Oregon State for first place in a tri-meet against the Beavers and California in Corvallis Friday evening. Both the Bruins and Beavers totaled 196.775, while the Bears finished in third with a score of 192.350. UCLA rallied from a 0.40 deficit at the halfway mark, recording strong marks on vault (49.45) and uneven bars (49.2) to catch up to the Beavers.
The Bruins had to tinker with the expected lineup several times after injuries to Samantha Peszek, who only competed on balance beam due to wrist soreness, and Lichelle Wong, who suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon during the three-minute touch on floor exercise. Additionally, Mattie Larson competed on just one event due to illness. But the Bruins regained the all-around services of veteran All-Americans Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs (39.375) and Vanessa Zamarripa (39.325), who finished third and fourth, respectively.
Super Subs -- If the Bruins have learned anything this season, it's to be prepared to come in at a moment's notice. Injuries and poor warmups have forced lineup shuffling several times this season, and the subs have done a great job filling in, particularly in last weekend's meet at Oregon State. An injury to Lichelle Wong in the three-minute touch warmup brought Vanessa Zamarripa into the floor lineup for the first time since she tore her Achilles tendon in December 2010, and she contributed a 9.8. Monique De La Torre stepped in for Samantha Peszek on vault and scored a career-high 9.925, and Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs came in on both vault and bars, scoring 9.825 and 9.85, respectively. Freshman Ellette Craddock got her first chance in the competition lineup on uneven bars and made the most of it, scoring 9.8.
No Sophomore Slump -- Sophomores Samantha Peszek and Olivia Courtney have been as consistent as they get for the Bruins. Peszek has hit 22 of her 23 routines this season, with her only fall coming on beam at Oregon State when she modified her routine in order to be non-weight-bearing on her sore wrist. Twenty of Peszek's 23 routines have scored 9.825 or higher, and she has won the all-around in four out of five meets, with a career-high of 39.55 set Feb. 5. 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 has hit 17 of 18 routines for 9.7 or higher, with 11 of her 18 routines scoring between 9.875 and 9.925. Since week two, she has averaged 9.870 on her routines, and in her last meet at Oregon State, she tied her career-high with a 9.9 on floor exercise and also scored 9.9 on vault.
Vault Powerhouse -- UCLA's vault lineup has been among the best in the nation this season. The Bruins are averaging 49.418 on the event and have scored 49.5 or better in three meets. Four Bruin vaulters are ranked in the Top 25 nationally - No. 1 Vanessa Zamarripa (9.935 average), No. 10 Olivia Courtney (9.896), No. 17 Samantha Peszek (9.890), and No. 21 Monique De La Torre (9.875). Additionally, Tauny Frattone averages 9.868, Mattie Larson averages 9.856, and Kaelie Baer averages 9.818 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 15 consecutive meets and in 28 of 34 meets in her career. She has never scored lower than 9.8 on vault and holds a career average of over 9.9. She has also hit 61 consecutive routines in team competition.
Injury Update -- Junior Lichelle Wong ruptured her right Achilles tendon on Feb. 17 at Oregon State and will miss the remainder of the season. Freshman Dana McDonald also suffered a season-ending Achilles injury on Feb. 10 in Chicago, rupturing her left Achilles tendon while performing an exhibition routine on floor exercise. McDonald had performed in exhibition in a total of five meets. Samantha Peszek's wrist soreness is not considered serious, and she is expected to compete on Sunday. Sydney Sawa, who had shoulder surgery early in the year, could return to action in two weeks.
Looking Ahead -- UCLA travels to Georgia for a Friday, Mar. 2 meet against the Gym Dogs. UCLA and Georgia have combined to win 16 NCAA Championships and eight of the last nine.