April 16, 2012
NCAA Championships - Second-seeded UCLA (17-2-1) will travel to Duluth, Ga. for the 2012 National Collegiate Women's Gymnastics Championships. The championships, hosted by Georgia Tech and the Gwinnett Center, will be held at The Arena at Gwinnett Center, Apr. 20-22.
Championship Schedule - The competition begins on Friday, Apr. 20 with two semifinal sessions at 12:00 pm and 6:00 pm ET. UCLA competes in the first semifinal, along with #3 Oklahoma, #6 Nebraska, #7 Utah, #10 Stanford and #11 LSU. Competing in the second semifinal are #1 Florida, #4 Alabama, #5 Georgia, #8 Arkansas, #9 Oregon State and #12 Ohio State. The top three teams from each semifinal will advance to the Super Six Team Finals on Saturday, Apr. 21 at 4:00 pm ET. Individual event finals will take place on Sunday, Apr. 22 at 1:00 pm ET. The all-around champion and individual event finalists will be determined during Friday's semifinals. Individuals qualify for event finals by placing in the Top 4 (including ties) of that particular event during their own semifinal session.
Coverage - Live scoring for all sessions will be available at ncaa.com. Also follow @UCLAGymnastics on Twitter for updates. ESPN3 will broadcast the Super Six Team Finals live on Saturday and the Individual Event Finals live on Sunday. The team finals will be televised by ESPNU on May 2 at 5:30pm PT. Calling the action for ESPN will be two-time Olympic gold medalist Bart Conner, two-time Olympic medalist Kathy Johnson Clarke, and Suzanne Yoculan, who coached Georgia to 10 NCAA titles.
Rotation Order - The Bruins will begin the semifinals on vault and will end on floor exercise. a bye before floor and will end on beam. LSU starts on a bye before bars. Nebraska begins on uneven bars. Oklahoma starts on balance beam. Stanford is on a bye before floor, and Utah begins on floor exercise. Rotating with UCLA will be individual all-around qualifier Kayla Slechta from Minnesota.
UCLA's NCAA Championship History - The Bruins have won six NCAA gymnastics titles - in 1997 at Florida, 2000 at Boise State, 2001 at Georgia, 2003 at Nebraska, 2004 at UCLA and 2010 at Florida. This is UCLA's 28th overall appearance in the 31 NCAA Championships.
Individual NCAA History - A total of 16 Bruins have won 31 NCAA titles to rank second behind only Georgia (38) in individual NCAA titles. UCLA's NCAA champions are: Kim Hamilton (1987-88-89 floor, 1989 vault), Jill Andrews (1988 vault, 1989 beam), Stella Umeh (1995 and 1998 floor), Heidi Moneymaker (1988 bars, 1999 vault), Kiralee Hayashi (1999 beam), Mohini Bhardwaj (2000 bars, 2001 floor), Lena Degteva (2000 beam), Onnie Willis (2001 all-around), Yvonne Tousek (2001 bars), Jamie Dantzscher (2002 all-around, vault and floor; 2003 bars), Kate Richardson (2003 bars and beam, 2006 floor), Kristen Maloney (2005 vault and beam), Tasha Schwikert (2005 all-around, 2008 all-around and bars), Vanessa Zamarripa (2010 vault), Brittani McCullough (2010 floor) and Samantha Peszek (2011 beam). Two other Bruins won AIAW national titles - Sharon Shapiro (1980 sweep of all all-around and all four events, 1981 all-around and vault) and Diane Dovas (1981 bars). Shapiro remains the only gymnast ever to sweep the all-around and all four events in one year at a national championship. Hamilton is the only woman to win three consecutive floor titles. UCLA has won at least two individual titles in nine of the last 14 years. The Bruins have won a team or individual title in 13 of the last 15 years and have won more individual titles (17) in the last 10 years than any other team.
Last Year At NCAAs - UCLA had a championship performance at the NCAA Super Six, scoring 197.375, but it was not quite enough to overtake Alabama, who won its fifth NCAA title with a score of 197.65. The outcome of the meet went down to the wire with the Bruins on beam matching Alabama on floor score-for-score, but the Crimson Tide's last two competitors scored 9.925 and 9.95 to secure the title. UCLA finished in second place, Oklahoma was third (197.25), Nebraska placed fourth (196.725), Utah was fifth (196.5), and Michigan finished in sixth (196.425). UCLA and Alabama were tied for first at the halfway point of the meet with matching scores of 98.85. Alabama nudged ahead by a hair after its third event, scoring 49.35 on balance beam while the Bruins scored 49.325 on uneven bars, setting up a head-to-head showdown in the final rotation that Alabama won by 0.275.
Freshman Samantha Peszek won the balance beam title, scoring 9.9 to become the Bruins' sixth NCAA beam champion and first since 2005. Peszek added a standing full to her usual routine, becoming the first gymnast ever to compete that skill in collegiate competition. Aisha Gerber was close behind in a tie for second with a score of 9.8875. Brittani McCullough also earned a second-place finish, on floor exercise, and Monique De La Torre was third on uneven bars.
The Bruins left the Championships with a second-place national team finish, a beam national championship, four Top 3 individual finishes and 14 All-America honors.
NCAA Championship Notes
*Only four teams have ever won the NCAA title in the 30 years of the Championships - Georgia (10), Utah (9), UCLA (6) and Alabama (5).
*Nine schools return from the 2011 NCAA Championships - Alabama (1st place), UCLA (2nd), Oklahoma (3rd), Nebraska (4th), Utah (5th), Florida (7th), Oregon State (8th), Arkansas (9th) and Georgia (9th). Absent are Michigan (6th place in 2011), Illinois (11th) and Kent State (12th). Stanford and LSU return after being absent in 2010, and Ohio State is back for the first time since 1990.
*All of the Top 12 ranked teams qualified for the NCAA Championships.
*This is the first time a school without a gymnastics program (Georgia Tech) has hosted the NCAA Championships.
*UCLA ranks second amongst all schools with 31 individual titles. Georgia leads all teams with 38. Utah is third with 24.
*UCLA has won either a team or an individual NCAA title in 13 of the last 15 years.
UCLA vs. 2012 Field - The Bruins have matched up against six of the 11 other teams in the NCAA field this season, accumulating a 7-1-1 record against the field. UCLA is 1-0 against Oklahoma, 2-0 against Utah, 1-0-1 against Oregon State, 1-0 against Arkansas, 0-1 against Georgia and 2-0 against Stanford.
In the Rankings - UCLA moved up one spot to No. 3 in the national rankings after posting 197.425 at the Pac-12 Championships. The Bruins finished the regular season with a RQS of 197.270. The Bruins finished first on vault (49.510), fifth on bars (49.285) third on beam (49.290) and second on floor (49.350).
For the third time in her career, Vanessa Zamarripa ended the regular season ranked first in the nation on vault (9.935). She is joined in the Top 10 on vault by Olivia Courtney and Tauny Frattone, who are tied for seventh with a RQS of 9.920. On uneven bars, two Bruins are in the Top 25 - Aisha Gerber (No. 13, 9.890) and Zamarripa (No. 24, 9.875). Samantha Peszek and Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs are ranked in the Top 15 on beam, with Peszek No. 9 (9.890) and Hopfner-Hibbs No. 14 (9.885). On floor exercise, Hopfner-Hibbs ranks fourth (9.920), and Olivia Courtney ranks 22nd (9.885).
UCLA Win NCAA Regional Championship - Top-seeded UCLA won the Fayetteville Regional and advanced to the NCAA Championships for the 28th time in school history, scoring 197.225, the second-best score among all Regional competitions. Host team Arkansas placed second with a score of 196.825 to also advance to the Championships. The Bruins had a rough start at the top of the meet when the leadoff competitor on uneven bars in the first rotation posted a sub-9 score. But the team remained unrattled, subsequently hitting five routines to avoid counting the fall. Stuck landings on balance beam in rotation two helped the team pick up momentum, and in their final two events, floor exercise and vault, the Bruins dominated, scoring 49.475 and 49.45, respectively, to take the Regional title. Samantha Peszek placed second in the all-around with a career-high 39.6 and tied for first on vault with a career-best 9.95. Vanessa Zamarripa won uneven bars with a 9.9 and placed third in the all-around with a 39.55. Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs tied her career-high in winning floor with a 9.95.
Lane Voted West Region Assistant Coach of the Year - Assistant coach Randy Lane was voted the West Region Assistant Coach of the Year for 2012. Lane, who returned to UCLA this season for his third stint as an assistant, was similarly honored in 1998 and was the National Assistant Coach of the Year in 2000.
Five Receive Pac-12 All-Academic Acclaim - Five UCLA gymnasts were named to the Pac-12 All-Academic gymnastics team for 2012 - first-team honoree Aisha Gerber, second-team selection Samantha Peszek and honorable mention picks Kaelie Baer, Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs and Lichelle Wong. Gerber's first-team selection was her second consecutive.
Vault Powerhouse - UCLA's vault lineup has been the best in the nation this season. The Bruins are averaging 49.446 on the event and have scored 49.45 or better in 10 of 12 meets and 49.5+ in five meets. Three Bruin vaulters are ranked in the Top 10 nationally - No. 1 Vanessa Zamarripa (9.935 RQS, national-best 9.925 average) and No. 7 Olivia Courtney (9.920 RQS, 9.913 average) and Tauny Frattone (9.920 RQS, 9.881 average). Five others average over 9.8 - Samantha Peszek (9.891), Mattie Larson (9.868), Monique De La Torre (9.85), Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs (9.836), and Kaelie Baer (9.817).
The Bruins' vault total of 49.575 at Cal ranks as the sixth-best vault score in school history, while the 49.55s from the season opener against Utah and the Pac-12 Championships rank as seventh-best.
Flooring the Competition - The Bruins may not have started strong on floor exercise this season, but they're certainly ending strong, averaging 49.415 in their last five meets, with a high of 49.6 set Feb. 26 against Arizona State. Each of the Bruin regulars have averaged high numbers during this five-meet stretch - Samantha Peszek (9.917 average in three meets), Olivia Courtney (9.906 average in four meets), Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs (9.905 average in five meets, including three 9.95s), Vanessa Zamarripa (9.865 average in five meets), Alyssa Pritchett (9.86 average in five meets) and Tauny Frattone (9.82 average in five meets). The Bruins ended the regular season ranked third nationally on floor and are averaging 49.238