Saturday, Jan. 25 - 7:30 pm MT
TV: Pac-12 Networks (Jim Watson, Amanda Borden)
Live Stats - utahutes.com
UCLA at Utah
The eighth-ranked UCLA gymnastics team will hit the road for the first time this season, traveling to Salt Lake City, Utah to take on the fourth-ranked Utah Utes. The meet will take place on Saturday, Jan. 25 at 7:30pm MT and will be televised live on Pac-12 Networks. Jim Watson and 1996 Olympic gold medalist Amanda Borden will have the call.
Live stats will be available at utahutes.com. Live updates can be found on Twitter: @UCLAGymnastics.
In the Rankings
UCLA ranks No. 8 in the nation with a season average of 196.525. The Bruins are ranked No. 1 on floor (49.413), No. 2 on bars (49.263), No. 5 on vault (49.338) and No. 23 on beam (48.513). Two Bruins hold the No. 1 ranking on an event, as Olivia Courtney is tied for No. 1 on vault (9.938) and Samantha Peszek is ranked No. 1 on beam (9.925). Courtney and Peszek are tied for No. 14 on bars (9.875), while Courtney ranks No. 10 on floor (9.9). Danusia Francis is No. 2 on beam (9.913), No. 22 on bars (9.85) and No. 19 on floor (9.887). Sydney Sawa ranks No. 3 on floor (9.938), No. 5 on vault (9.925) and No. 22 on bars. Sophina DeJesus moved into the Top 5 on bars, tying for No. 4 (9.9). Two Bruin freshmen are ranked on floor - Angi Cipra No. 10 (9.9) and Hallie Mossett No. 23 (9.875).
Pac-12 Powers Perform Saturday
UCLA and Utah are the Pac-12’s - and among the nation’s - most successful teams, having won 15 NCAA Championships between them (6 for UCLA, 9 for Utah). The Bruins and Utes are also the two highest-ranked teams, at No. 8 and 4, respectively.
About the Utes
The 10-time national champion Utes are coached by Greg and Megan Marsden and have nine returning All-Americans on their roster, including 2012 Pac-12 all-around champion Corrie Lothrop, 2012 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Georgia Dabritz, 2008 Canadian Olympian Nansy Damianova and 2013 North Central Region Gymnast of the Year Tory Wilson.
The Utes are 4-0 to start the season, having won a home quad meet in the season opener and a road dual meet at Cal last week with a season-best mark of 196.875. Utah ranks No. 1 in the nation on vault with a season average of 49.463 and is No. 2 behind the Bruins on floor with an average of 49.375.
The Series with Utah
Utah leads the all-time regular season series with UCLA, 24-7, but when including NCAA competition, the Bruins have won eight straight head-to-head, including all three meetings last year. Utah’s last win in the series came in 2011 in Salt Lake City, 195.7-195.3.
Sawa Powers UCLA to Win over Oregon State
On the strength of two nearly perfect routines from senior Sydney Sawa, UCLA earned its first victory of the season, defeating Oregon State, 196.425-195.625, in Pauley Pavilion on Jan. 19. Sawa recorded career-best marks on vault (9.95) and floor exercise (9.975), earning a 10.0 from one of the two judges on each event. She also came in as a last-minute sub and scored 9.85 on uneven bars to tie for second place. Also earning a perfect mark from one judge was freshman Angi Cipra on floor exercise, where she finished with a final score of 9.95. Sophina DeJesus won bars with a career-high 9.95, and Danusia Francis won beam with a season-best 9.925.
Francis Makes History with Beam Dismount
Sophomore Danusia Francis achieved a gymnastics first on Jan. 11, becoming the first gymnast to do a sideways aerial into a full-twisting 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. Last season at the NCAA Event Finals, Francis became the first collegiate gymnast to do a sideways aerial on beam.
Francis, who tuned up for the season by competing at the World University Games, has been terrific this season, scoring 9.85 or better on each of the six routines she has competed.
Peszek Returns After Redshirt Year
Redshirt junior Samantha Peszek showed little rust in returning from an Achilles injury that forced her out of competition in 2013. Peszek took first place on balance beam against Florida with a 9.925 and was third on bars (9.875) and fifth on vault (9.85). She was held out against Oregon State to rest a stress fracture in her heel. Her status is day-to-day.
Pinches Back in the Saddle
Freshman Jennifer Pinches made her collegiate debut on Jan. 19, competing for the first time since the 2012 Olympics. Pinches, who retired from the sport after the Olympic Games, decided to return to the sport after UCLA head coach Valorie Kondos Field recruited her in 2013. Pinches signed with UCLA in August and came to Westwood a month later for preseason training. A broken toe had prevented her from training fully, but she made a succesful return last weekend with a vault that scored 9.625. Pinches also visited the broadcast booth, sitting in on a rotation for some commentary on the Pac-12 Networks’ broadcast of the meet.
UCLA seniors Olivia Courtney and Sydney Sawa have undoubtedly been the team leaders this season. Their competitive experience and edge has shown in both meets, with each totaling four 9.9+ scores, including a 9.975 each (Courtney on vault vs. Florida and Sawa on floor vs. Oregon State). Courtney is the nation’s top vaulter and in the Top 10 on floor. Sawa is ranked in the Top 5 on both vault (No. 5) and floor (No. 3).
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 vault, bars and floor, including 9.975 on floor and 9.95 on vault.
Freshmen Angi Cipra and Hallie Mossett have quickly stepped into important roles on the Bruin squad, contributing on three events each last weekend against Oregon State. Cipra scored 9.95 on floor, earning a perfect 10 from one of the judges. For the second-straight week, Mossett came through for her team with a clutch beam routine after a shaky beginning to the rotation, scoring 9.85. She also made her collegiate debut on floor and scored 9.875 in the leadoff position.
Conference of Champions
The Pac-12 Conference leads the nation with all eight teams ranked in the Top 25. Utah is 4th, UCLA 8th, Stanford 12th, Oregon State 16th, Arizona 17th, Washington 21st, Arizona State 23rd and California 25th. All eight teams were also ranked in the preseason Top 25.
UCLA is back on the road for a Friday, Jan. 31 meet at California. The meet will be televised live at 6pm on Pac-12 Networks.