UCLA Concludes Regular Season against Utah State, Bowling Green on Senior Day
Seventh-ranked UCLA (7-3) will conclude regular season play with a home tri-meet against Bowling Green (7-7)and Utah State (8-7) on Sunday, Mar. 16. The meet will take place at 2pm PT in Pauley Pavilion. UCLA seniors Olivia Courtney, Sydney Sawa, Samantha Peszek, Kassidy Kozai and Cory Tomlinson will be honored in post-meet cermonies.
With the team wearing black leotards for the first time in nearly 10 years, UCLA Gymnastics is calling for a Bruin Blackout on Sunday. All fans are encouraged to wear black in honor of this occasion.
General admission tickets for Sunday’s blackout meet are on sale now at the UCLA Central Ticket Office and at Ticketmaster. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for youth (16 and under). UCLA students are free with ID and are eligible to win an iPad mini.
Fans not in attendance can watch Sunday’s meet on a live video stream at www.pac-12.com/videos/ucla. Video footage will focus on UCLA as three events are running simultaneously. Live stats will be available at uclabruins.com, and live updates can be found on Twitter by following @UCLAGymnastics.
In the Rankings
UCLA continues to climb up the rankings ladder, moving up one spot to No. 7 in the nation with a Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) of 196.920. RQS is determined by taking the top six scores, three of which must be on the road, dropping the high score and averaging the remaining five marks. The Bruins are ranked No. 6 on bars (49.335), No. 7 on beam (49.145) and floor (49.385) and No. 11 on vault (49.295). Five Bruin gymnasts are ranked this week - Olivia Courtney (No. 9 on vault), Sophina DeJesus (No. 11 on bars), Samantha Peszek (No. 5 on beam, No. 16 on bars), Danusia Francis (No. 2 on beam), and Sydney Sawa (No. 6 on floor).
Bruins Hit 197 for Second-Straight Week
UCLA hit the 197 mark on the road for the second-straight week, placing second in a tri-meet at Michigan with a total of 197.475. The Bruins finished behind No. 7 Michigan but ahead of No. 6 Utah. UCLA hit 24-for-24 routines without a fall and scored 49.325 or higher on all four events, including meet-highs of 49.475 on vault and 49.3 on beam.
Peszek Wins in All-Around Season Debut
Competing in the all-around for the first time since the 2012 NCAA Championships, Samantha Peszek scored 39.65 to place first against Michigan and Utah. Peszek earned 9.925 on her first floor exercise routine in two years and also recorded 9.925s on bars and beam. Peszek missed the 2013 season with a ruptured Achilles tendon and had been limited in competition in 2014 due to a stress reaction in her heel.
About the Opponents
Utah State and Bowling Green are in a close race to make the Top 36 to earn a NCAA Regionals berth. Utah State is currently tied for 35th in the national rankings, while Bowling Green is 39th. Each team has an opportunity to raise their RQS with a strong road score this weekend.
Utah State is coming off a season-best performance last weekend, scoring 195.525 in a win again San Jose State. The Aggies host Southern Utah on Friday before heading to Los Angeles.
Bowling Green is also coming off a season-best performance, posting its fourth-highest score in program history Thursday in a loss to Kent State. The Falcons scored 195.925 and were led by Alyssa Nocella, who scored a career-high 39.35 in the all-around.
The Series with ...
UCLA is 8-1 all-time against Utah State and last met in 2010 at Cal State Fullerton in a tri-meet that UCLA won. Utah State’s only victory in the series came in 1979, 134.95-128.95. UCLA and Bowling Green are meeting for the first time ever.
UCLA seniors Olivia Courtney, Sydney Sawa and Samantha Peszek have undoubtedly been the team leaders this season. The trio have combined for 32 of UCLA’s 43 individual wins, with Courtney winning 13, Peszek 10 and Sawa nine. They are also setting the pace in 9.9+ scores, with Courtney totaling 15 and Sawa and Peszek earning 12 apiece. Peszek has a 10.0 on bars, Sawa has a 10.0 on floor, and Courtney has a 9.975 on vault.
Courtney is an eight-time All-American who has won four Pac-12 individual titles, the most of any active gymnast in the conference. She has career-best marks of 9.9 or better on all four events, including 9.975 on vault and 9.95 on floor. Sawa earned All-America honors on floor exercise in 2011 and holds career-high marks of 9.9 or better on all four events, including 10.0 on floor and 9.95 on vault. Peszek is a four-time All-American and 2011 NCAA beam champion. Her career-bests are 9.95 or better on all four events, including a 10.0 on bars, set Feb. 8. Peszek is currently averaging 9.9 on vault, 9.896 on bars, 9.921 on beam and 9.925 on floor.
Francis Makes History with Beam Dismount
Sophomore Danusia Francis achieved a gymnastics first on Jan. 11, becoming the first gymnast to do a sideways side aerial into a layout full dismount off the side of the beam. The difficult and innovative combo paved the way for a 9.9 score. She improved upon her score on Jan. 19, earning 9.925 to place first, and she tied her career-best on Jan. 25 at Utah with a 9.95. Last season at the NCAA Event Finals, Francis became the first collegiate gymnast to do a sideways side aerial on beam. (Note: Samantha Peszek also achieved an NCAA first on beam in 2011, becoming the first collegiate gymnast to compete a standing full, which she did to win the NCAA beam title.)
Francis, who tuned up for the 2014 season by competing at the World University Games and qualifying for floor finals, has been amazingly consistent, hitting all 48 of her collegiate routines in team competition without a fall. She sat out two meets in February due to a virus but returned Feb. 22 to score 9.925 on beam and a meet-high 9.825 on bars. She improved on her beam score the following week at Arizona, scoring 9.95 to win the event.
Bynum Brings It
Sadiqua Bynum has transformed in 2014, bringing huge vaults and powerful tumbling on floor. Her last four meets, in particular, have been stellar. At Washington on Feb. 16, she tied her career-high with a 9.9 Yurchenko layout half vault and set a new standard on floor with a 9.9 after hitting a double layout, double tuck and double pike. She nearly matched those marks a week later against Stanford, scoring 9.9 on floor and 9.875 on vault. She scored her third 9.9 in a row on floor at Arizona, and at Michigan, she earned a career-high 9.925 on vault and scored 9.875 on floor. Bynum is now averaging 9.847 on vault and 9.808 on floor. A year ago, she was not vaulting, and she averaged 9.564 on floor.
Mossett Most Consistent
Freshman Hallie Mossett has been one of UCLA’s most consistent athletes, hitting all 31 routines she has competed this season without a fall. She averages 9.789 or better on all four events, with a high average of 9.825 on beam. She has taken over leadoff duties on beam the past three meets and, not coincidentally, the Bruins have posted their top three beam marks of the season, 49.525, 49.375 and 49.3. Mossett scored 9.875, 9.85 and 9.875, respectively, in those meets.
Prior to this season, Mossett had missed two years of competition due to injuries. She had two hip surgeries related to a car accident and then tore her ACL during her senior year of high school. Mossett, who has two all-around wins in five attempts and a season high of 39.425, has twice earned Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honors.
Bruin Perfect 10s
UCLA has scored two perfect 10s this season, with Samantha Peszek and Sydney Sawa becoming the 24th and 25th Bruins to join the perfect 10 club. Peszek scored UCLA’s 20th perfect 10 on uneven bars on Feb. 8 vs. Arizona State. The last Bruin to score a 10 on bars had been Anna Li at the 2010 NCAA Regionals. Sawa followed suit two weeks later, scoring her first perfect 10 on floor exercise vs. Stanford on Feb. 22. Sawa’s 10 was the 102nd perfect 10 in school history and the 38th on floor exercise but first since Kristen Maloney at the 2005 NCAA Championships.
Three other Bruins have flirted with perfection this year, earning a 10 from one of two judges on a routine: Olivia Courtney on vault (9.975 on Jan. 11), Sophina DeJesus on bars (9.975 on Feb. 8), and Angi Cipra on floor (9.95 on Jan. 19).
Conference of Champions
The Pac-12 Conference has seven teams ranked in the Top 25. Utah is 5th, UCLA 7th, Stanford 10th, Oregon State 12th, California 19th, Arizona 20th and Arizona State 22nd. Washington ranks 33rd. All eight Pac-12 teams were ranked in the preseason Top 25.
Each week during the season, Samantha Peszek hosts an episode of Bruin Banter on uclabruins.com. The show, in its second season, features an interview with a member of the UCLA team. This week’s interview was with senior Olivia Courtney.
UCLA competes at the Pac-12 Championships on Saturday, Mar. 22 in Berkeley. The Bruins, along with the other Top 4 seeds, will compete in the afternoon session, which begins at 1pm. Tickets can be purchased in advance at CalBears.com. The Championships will be televised live on Pac-12 Networks.