Jan. 18, 2012
UCLA Hosts San Jose State Sunday -- Seventh-ranked UCLA (2-0) hosts 19th-ranked San Jose State (2-1) in the second annual Heart of a Champion meet at the John Wooden Center on Sunday, Jan. 22 at 2pm. The meet will help raise funds and awareness for Camp del Corazon, a non-profit organization that provides a summer camp to youngsters with heart disease.
Tickets -- Tickets for the UCLA-San Jose State meet are on sale now at the UCLA Central Ticket Office. For the best value, season tickets are on sale for $30 and includes admission to the remaining four home meets. The center-most sections are reserved exclusively for season ticket holders up until the competition begins. Single-meet general admission tickets are also on sale at the UCLA Central Ticket Office and at Ticketmaster for $7 for adults and $5 for youth (16 and under). UCLA students are free with ID.
Live Coverage -- UCLABruins.com will host free video and audio broadcasts, as well as live scoring, of all Bruin home meets. Ghizal Hasan and Allison Taylor will provide commentary for this week's meet. Fans can also get updates via Twitter by following @UCLAGymnastics.
In the Rankings -- After opening the season ranked No. 1 in the preseason coaches poll, the Bruins dropped to No. 7 in the first regular season poll, which is based on season average. The Bruins have a season average of 196.375. UCLA is ranked No. 1 on vault with a 49.563 average, No. 5 on bars (49.125), No. 8 on beam (48.963) and No. 21 on floor (48.725).
Individually, Samantha Peszek ranks sixth in the all-around (39.45 average), fourth on vault (9.925), sixth on beam (9.875) and 21st on floor (9.85). Vanessa Zamarripa leads four Bruins in the Top 15 on vault, ranking third with a 9.95 average. Peszek is fourth, Olivia Courtney seventh (9.913) and Tauny Frattone 14th (9.888). Zamarripa is also ranked No. 14 on bars (9.863). Aisha Gerber and Mattie Larson join Peszek in the Top 25 on beam, ranking 14th (9.85) and 25th (9.838), respectively.
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.
About the Spartans -- San Jose State, which is coached by Wayne Wright, recorded its highest season-opening score in school history last weekend, earning a 194.3 in a second-place showing at the NorCal Quad Meet at Stanford. The team hit 23 of its 24 routines and recorded the meet's highest floor score with a 49.050. Senior Thomasina Wallace won the all-around with a score of 39.15 and now ranks 20th in the nation in the all-around, 15th on bars and 21st on floor. As a team, San Jose State ranks 19th overall and on bars, eighth on floor and 22nd on beam.
UCLA holds a 7-0 regular season record against San Jose State. The Spartans host Seattle Pacific on Friday before making the trip south for Sunday's meet.
Bruins Vault to Win over Cal -- UCLA won its second-straight dual meet, taking down California in Berkeley on Jan. 15, 196.675-192.55, thanks to 49.5+ team scores on vault and beam. Redshirt junior Vanessa Zamarripa provided the highlight of the competition, scoring a perfect 10 on vault. Holding a slim .125 lead after the first rotation, the Bruins blew it open with a 49.575 on vault in rotation two. Kaelie Baer (9.875), Samantha Peszek (9.925) and Zamarripa (10.0) all recorded career-high marks to help UCLA achieve the No. 6 vault score in school history. In the final rotation, UCLA posted the seventh-best beam score in school history with a 49.55. The Bruins received four 9.9+ scores - 9.9 for leadoff Aisha Gerber, career-highs of 9.925 for Lichelle Wong and Samantha Peszek, and another 9.925 for Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs.
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 Sunday 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 11 consecutive meets and in 22 of 27 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 has hit 47 consecutive routines in team competition.
Peszek a Model of Consistency -- Sophomore Samantha Peszek won the all-around for the second consecutive meet, matching her career-best with a 39.45 at Cal. Peszek has been the model of consistency thus far in 2012, scoring 39.45 in both meets and placing in the Top 3 in every event at Cal and on every event but one vs. Utah. At Cal, she earned a first-place tie on beam with a career-high 9.925. She also tied for second on bars (9.775) and floor (9.825) and tied her career-high in tying for second place on vault with a 9.925.
Senior Strength -- UCLA's senior class of Kaelie Baer, Tauny Frattone, Aisha Gerber and Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs have been the Bruins' rocks this season, providing strong performances and leadership. Baer scored a career-high 9.875 on vault to pave the way for a national-best 49.575 at Cal. Frattone's career-high-tying 9.95 led the way against Utah. Gerber's leadoff 9.9 on beam at Cal guided UCLA to a season-high 49.55 on the event. Hopfner-Hibbs led the way on beam and floor at Cal with scores of 9.925 and 9.9, respectively.
Vaulting To Top -- The Bruins are in postseason form on vault, ranking No. 1 in the nation with an average of 49.563 after scoring 49.55 in the season opener and 49.575 at Cal last weekend. The 49.575 ranks as the sixth-best vault score in school history, while the 49.55 ranks as the seventh-best. UCLA has not counted a vault score lower than 9.85 so far, with both dropped scores being 9.825s.
Bruins Claim 3 of 4 Pac-12 Weekly Awards -- UCLA gymnasts have won three of the first four Pac-12 Gymnastics weekly awards. Bruin vaulters have dominated the Special Performance of the Week awards, with Tauny Frattone winning on week one for her 9.95 vault and Vanessa Zamarripa winning on week two for her 10.0 vault at Cal. Samantha Peszek was the season's first Gymnast of the Week, being honored for her all-around win vs. Utah. Zamarripa's Special Performance award was the sixth of her career; she won the award twice in 2010 and three times in 2009. Zamarripa also has five Conference Gymnast of the Week awards to her credit. Frattone's award was the third of her career, and Peszek's honor was her first Gymnast of the Week award; she also has one Special Performance of the Week award.