Saturday, Mar. 22 - 1:00 pm PT
TV: Pac-12 Networks (Jim Watson, Amanda Borden)
Live Stats - calbears.com
UCLA Competes in First Session of Pac-12 Championships
Seventh-ranked UCLA (9-3) is the No. 2 seed and will compete in the afternoon session (1:00 pm) of the Pac-12 Conference Championships on Saturday, Mar. 22 at Haas Pavilion. Also in the afternoon session are No. 1 seed Utah, No. 3 seed Stanford and No. 4 seed Oregon State. Host and No. 5 seed California will compete in the evening session at 6:30 pm, along with No. 6 Arizona, No. 7 Arizona State and No. 8 Washington. Seeding is determined by national rankings, which are based on Regional Qualifying Score (RQS).
The Pac-12 champion will be the team with the highest score from the two sessions. Individual champions will also be determined via combined sessions.
Both sessions at the Pac-12 Championships will be televised live on Pac-12 Networks, with Jim Watson and Amanda Borden on the call. Live stats will be available at calbears.com, and live updates can be found on Twitter by following @UCLAGymnastics.
All-session tickets for Saturday’s Pac-12 Championships are available at CalBears.com. All-session passes are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors (age 65 and above) and youth (12th grade and under), and $8 for students. Single-session passes are $12 for adults, $8 for seniors and youth, and $5 for students. Single-session tickets will be sold at the ticket office on Spieker Plaza during the day of the Pac-12 Championships only.
The rotation order for the Championships was determined by random draw in September. The Nos. 1 and 5 seeds will start on the vault. Nos. 2 and 6 will start on bars. Nos. 3 and 7 will start on the beam, and the Nos. 4 and 8 seeds will begin on the floor.
Pride of the Pac
The Pac-12 Conference has seven teams ranked in the Top 25. Utah is 5th, UCLA 7th, Stanford 10th, Oregon State 11th, California 19th, Arizona 21st and Arizona State 22nd. Washington ranks 34th. All eight Pac-12 teams were ranked in the preseason Top 25.
Conference Championship History
UCLA has won the most conference championships among the eight member schools with 16 Pac-12 titles (1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012) and 1 WCAA title (1981). Oregon State (1991, 1992, 1994, 1996, 2011, 2013) and Stanford (1998, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2008) and are the only other teams to win Pac-12 titles. Utah has eight conference titles, winning HCAC Championships from 1986-90 and WAC Championships from 1991-93. The Utes competed as an independent from 1994-2011. Arizona State has four conference titles - the 1986 Pac West crown and the 1982, 1983 and 1985 WCAA titles.
UCLA has dominated individually at the Pac-12 Championships, winning a conference-best 83 individual titles. The Bruins have been especially dominant in the all-around, winning 18 titles, including 12 in the last 17 years (includes ties). UCLA gymnasts have won 20 titles on bars, 16 on vault and floor and 13 on beam.
Back to defend their event titles are floor co-champion Olivia Courtney and beam co-champion Amanda Spinner from Stanford. Courtney has won a Pac-12 individual title every year she has competed, winning vault and bars as a freshman, vault as a sophomore and floor as a junior. Also competing are a pair of Utah gymnasts who won titles in 2012 - Corrie Lothrop (all-around) and Georgia Dabritz (Utah).
Back to Berkeley
This is just the third time California has hosted the Pac-12 Championships and first since 2005. UCLA has won each of the Pac-12 (Pac-10 at the time) Championships Cal has hosted, winning by over two points in 1990 and by over one point in 2005. Arizona was second both of those years.
This is also UCLA’s second trip to Berkeley this season. On Jan. 31, the Bruins won a dual meet, 196.575-195.550. UCLA clinched the win in the final rotation with a then-season-high 49.050 team score. Olivia Courtney sealed the team and all-around with by scoring 9.875 on the Bruins’ last routine of the night.
Last Year at Pac-12 Championships
Host Oregon State won the team championship for the sixth time, recording a school-record 197.85. UCLA finished second with a score of 197.375, Utah was third with 197.075, and Stanford fourth with 196.625. From the first session, Washington finished in fifth overall with 195.875, followed by Arizona with 195.525, California with 195.075 and Arizona State with 193.425. UCLA scored 49.45 or better on three events but just 48.975 on beam. Bruin Vanessa Zamarripa dominated individually, winning the all-around and three events, including vault, where she scored a perfect 10. Olivia Courtney won her fourth career conference title, tying for first on floor with a 9.95.
Conference Awards Up for Grabs
Conference awards for Gymnast of the Year, Freshman/Newcomer of the Year, Specialist of the Year, Toyo Tires Scholar-Athlete of the Year and Coach of the Year will be handed out at the conclusion of the Pac-12 Championship meet. UCLA has won 13 of the last 17 Gymnast of the Year awards, most recently Vanessa Zamarripa in 2013 and 2010, and a total of 18 in 27 years. Head coach Valorie Kondos Field has won Coach of the Year honors four times (1995, 2000, 2003, 2012). UCLA has produced seven conference Freshmen/Newcomers of the Year since the inception of the award in 2000 - Olivia Courtney in 2011, Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs in 2009, Brittani McCullough in 2008, Ariana Berlin in 2006 (co-winner), Tasha Schwikert in 2005, Kate Richardson in 2003 and Doni Thompson in 2000. The Scholar-Athlete of the Year was established in 2008, and UCLA has one winner - Ariana Berlin in 2009. The Bruins have not had a winner as Specialist of the Year, which was just introduced in 2013.
In the Rankings
UCLA remains at No. 7 in the nation with a Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) of 197.005. 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 (49.380) and floor (49.400), No. 8 on beam (49.175) and No. 12 on vault (49.295). Five Bruin gymnasts are ranked this week - Olivia Courtney (No. 13 on vault, No. 21 on bars), Sophina DeJesus (No. 8 on bars), Samantha Peszek (No. 7 on beam, No. 12 on bars), Danusia Francis (No. 3 on beam), and Sydney Sawa (No. 6 on floor).
Bruins Hit 197 for Third-Straight Week
UCLA hit the 197 mark for the third-straight week, winning the home finale against Utah State and Bowling Green with a score of 197.075. The Bruins scored 49.4 or better on bars and floor and got a perfect 10 from Danusia Francis on beam and big all-around scores from Samantha Peszek (39.7) and Olivia Courtney (39.625) to achieve a home season-best score.
Francis Joins Perfect 10 Club
Danusia Francis became the third Bruin this year and 26th overall at UCLA to join the perfect 10 club. Francis scored her first career perfect 10 on beam on Mar. 16 in a tri-meet with Utah State and Bowling Green. It was just the eighth in school history on beam and the first since Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs scored a 10 at Georgia in 2010.
Also scoring perfect 10s this season have been Samantha Peszek and Sydney Sawa. Peszek scored UCLA’s 20th perfect 10 on uneven bars on Feb. 8 vs. Arizona State. Sawa followed suit two weeks later, scoring her first 10 on floor exercise vs. Stanford on Feb. 22. Sawa’s 10 was the 38th on floor in school history. UCLA now has a total of 103 perfect 10s.
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).
Peszek, Francis Win Pac-12 Weekly Honors
Samantha Peszek and Danusia Francis were honored by the Pac-12 as Gymnast and Specialist of the Week, respectively. Peszek received her first gymnast of the week award but fourth overall weekly award by the conference after winning the all-around with a career-best 39.7 in the tri-meet win over Utah State and Bowling Green. Peszek also won vault with a career-high-tying 9.95 and bars with a 9.975. Francis received her first weekly award of the season and second of her career after scoring her perfect 10 on beam.
Peszek 2-for-2 in All-Around
Competing in the all-around for the first time since the 2012 NCAA Championships, Samantha Peszek has gone 2-for-2 in all-around victories the last two weeks. In her all-around season debut against Michigan and Utah, she scored a career-best 39.65 to place first. A week later, she bested that mark with a meet-winning 39.7 against Utah State and Bowling Green. 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. She has only done floor exercise the last two meets, scoring 9.925 at Michigan and 9.85 last Sunday in her first-ever floor exercise performance in Pauley Pavilion (the only other year Peszek has competed on floor was 2012, when UCLA was temporarily housed in the Wooden Center during the Pauley Pavilion renovation).
UCLA seniors Olivia Courtney, Sydney Sawa and Samantha Peszek have undoubtedly been the team leaders this season. The trio have combined for 36 of UCLA’s 48 individual wins, with Courtney winning 14, Peszek 13 and Sawa nine. They are also setting the pace in 9.9+ scores, with Courtney totaling 18, Peszek 15 and Sawa 13. 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, and she is currently averaging over 9.9 on vault, bars and beam.
Francis Makes History with Beam Dismount
Sophomore Danusia Francis achieved a gymnastics first this season, 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 has led her to a No. 3 national ranking and her first career perfect 10 on Mar. 16. 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.)
Three Bruin regulars have perfect marks with hit routines, with Hallie Mossett hitting 34 out of 34 routines without a fall, Samantha Peszek going 22-for-22 with no score under 9.85, and Danusia Francis hitting 20-for-20 (and 51-for-51 over her two years). Also right up there is Olivia Courtney, who has hit 32 of 33 routines this year and over 96% of her routines throughout her career.
Bynum Brings It
Sadiqua Bynum has transformed in 2014, bringing huge vaults and powerful tumbling on floor. She has posted career-high marks of 9.925 on vault and 9.9 on floor. She is averaging 9.810 on floor and 9.795 on floor, with three 9.9+ scores on each apparatus. A year ago, she was not vaulting, and she averaged 9.564 on floor.
Freshman Flourishing as Leadoff on Beam
Freshman Hallie Mossett has been an invaluable competitor on balance beam, serving as the team’s leadoff performer the last four meets. Not coincidentally, UCLA’s Top 3 beam scores (49.525, 49.375, 49.3) came as soon as she began competing in the leadoff spot. She is averaging 9.876 in her four meets as the leadoff beam worker and 9.825 overall in the season.
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.
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 features head coach Valorie Kondos Field.
UCLA will have a week off before competing at the NCAA Regionals on Apr. 5 at a site to be determined.