Feb. 1, 2012
No. 7 Bruins Hosts No. 12 Cardinal Sunday -- The seventh-ranked UCLA gymnastics team (3-1, 2-1 in Pac-12) hosts conference rival and 12th-ranked Stanford (4-1, 1-1) on Sunday, Feb. 5 at the John Wooden Center. Start time for the meet is earlier than usual - 12:30 pm.
Tickets -- Tickets for the UCLA-Stanford meet are on sale now at the UCLA Central Ticket Office and at Ticketmaster. Single-meet general admission tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for youth (16 and under). UCLA students are free with ID.
Promotions -- Sunday's meet is Super Action Hero Sunday. The first 50 fans dressed in their super action hero finest will receive a special gift when they stop by the "Enter to Win" table in the lobby. UCLA student singing group Awaken a Cappella will provide premeet entertainment.
In the Rankings -- With a season average of 196.231, UCLA drops back to No. 7 in the national rankings after a one-week run at No. 1. The Bruins are No. 2 on vault (49.431), No. 9 on bars (48.956), No. 8 on beam (48.850) and tied for No. 8 on floor (48.994).
Individually, Samantha Peszek remains ranked fourth in the all-around (39.467 average) and is tied for fourth on beam (9.875). She also ranks seventh on vault (9.908) and tied for 23rd on floor (9.858). Vanessa Zamarripa leads five Bruins in the Top 25 on vault, ranking third with a 9.931 average. Along with seventh-ranked Peszek, Olivia Courtney ranks 12th (9.888), Tauny Frattone is 18th (9.869), and Mattie Larson ranks 22nd (9.863). Courtney and Zamarripa are tied for 21st on bars (9.833). Aisha Gerber is tied for 15th on beam (9.842), and Alyssa Pritchett jumps in the national rankings on floor at No. 12 (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.
About the Cardinal -- Stanford comes into this week's competition ranked No. 12 nationally with a season average of 195.117 and a season-high of 195.925. The Cardinal rank eighth on uneven bars, 17th on floor and 19th on vault and beam. Leading the team in 2012 are senior Nicole Pechanec, who ranks 16th nationally in the all-around with an average of 39.250, and junior Ashley Morgan, who ranks ninth on floor (9.883). The Cardinal freshman class includes a pair of former U.S. National Team members in Ivana Hong, who was Samantha Peszek's teammate on the gold medal-winning U.S. team at the 2007 World Championships, and Samantha Shapiro, who trained locally with Mattie Larson and Kassidy Kozai at All Olympia Gymnastics Center.
UCLA holds a 43-15-1 overall regular season record against Stanford and went 2-2 against the Cardinal last year with wins in the Pac-10 Challenge and Pac-10 Championships, both at UCLA.
Bruins Drop Dual at Washington -- UCLA suffered its first loss of the season on Jan. 27, falling to Washington in Seattle, 195.350-194.600. Troubles on uneven bars in the first rotation and balance beam in the final rotation proved costly for the Bruins. UCLA had event winners on every event, with Vanessa Zamarripa winning vault (9.925), Samantha Peszek tying for first on uneven bars and winning balance beam with scores of 9.85, and Alyssa Pritchett and Olivia Courtney tying for first on floor exercise with scores of 9.875.
Pritchett Steals Show in Seattle -- Redshirt junior Alyssa Pritchett provided the team's biggest highlight at Washington when she tied for first place on floor exercise with a career-high 9.875. Pritchett, who sat out all of last year with an injury, was in the competitive lineup for the first time since Feb. 26, 2010, and hit her difficult tumbling with ease to tie with teammate Olivia Courtney and Washington's Ruby Engreitz for first place on the event. This was just the third time in her career that Pritchett has been in the lineup on floor, and she is now averaging 9.817.
Wong Gets First All-Around Stint -- Junior Lichelle Wong competed in the all-around for the first time in her collegiate career, taking third place with a score of 38.575. Wong, who has competed on beam in every meet and on floor in the last three, saw her first action of the year on vault (9.775) and bars (9.325). On floor, she tied her season-high with a 9.85.
De La Torre Ties Career-Best On Floor -- Junior Monique De La Torre got her first taste of the competition floor on floor exercise and earned a career-high-tying 9.8. De La Torre, a first-team All-American on uneven bars, has not competed on floor since Feb. 26, 2010.
Super-Consistent Sophomores -- Sophomores Samantha Peszek and Olivia Courtney have been as consistent as they get for the Bruins. Peszek has hit all 14 of her routines this season, with no score dipping below 9.775 and 13 of the 14 going 9.825 or higher. She has won the all-around in every meet in which she has competed all four events, taking first place in each of the first three meets of the season. Her last win came vs. San Jose State on Jan. 22 when she scored a career-best 39.5. 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 9.875 on floor.
Courtney 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 49.431 on the event and have scored 49.5 or better in three of four meets. Five Bruin vaulters are ranked in the Top 25 nationally - No. 3 Vanessa Zamarripa (9.931 average), No. 7 Samantha Peszek (9.908), No. 12 Olivia Courtney (9.888), No. 18 Tauny Frattone (9.869) and No. 22 Mattie Larson (9.863). Additionally, Kaelie Baer averages 9.831 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 13 consecutive meets and in 24 of 29 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 53 consecutive routines in team competition.
Looking Ahead -- UCLA competes at the IGI/Chicago Style Classic on Friday, Feb. 10 against Boise State, Illinois and Missouri. Illinois is the home state of several Bruins - gymnast Vanessa Zamarripa and assistant coaches Chris Waller and Randy Lane.