Friday, Jan. 31 - 6pm PT
TV: Pac-12 Networks (Jim Watson, Amanda Borden)
Live Stats - calbears.com
UCLA at Cal
The ninth-ranked UCLA gymnastics team (1-2) get back on the road for a second-straight week, making a short flight up to Berkeley for a dual meet against 22nd-ranked California (3-4). The meet will take place on Friday, Jan. 31 at 6pm PT and will be televised live on Pac-12 Networks. Jim Watson and 1996 Olympic gold medalist Amanda Borden will have the call.
In the Rankings
UCLA ranks No. 9 in the nation with a season average of 196.308. The Bruins are ranked No. 3 on floor (49.383), No. 7 on vault (49.258), No. 10 on bars (49.050) and No. 15 on beam (48.617). Samantha Peszek and Danusia Francis are tied with two other gymnasts for No. 1 in the nation on beam with season averages of 9.925. The Bruins have four gymnasts ranked in the Top 25 on floor - No. 5 Sydney Sawa (9.933), No. 13 Olivia Courtney (9.9), No. 15 Angi Cipra (9.892) and No. 20 Francis (9.887). Two Bruins are ranked on vault - No. 16 Courtney (9.892) and No. 24 Sawa (9.883). Peszek is the only Bruin ranked on bars, checking in at No. 13 with a 9.875 average.
Bruins Get Early Look at Pac-12 Championships Site
UCLA will get an early feel for the host site of the Pac-12 Championships when it competes at California this weekend. The Golden Bears are hosting the conference championship on Mar. 22.
Bay Area Bruins
Friday’s meet will be an opportunity for Bay Area natives Sadiqua Bynum, Ellette Craddock and Dana McDonald to compete in front of a hometown crowd. Bynum is from Berkeley and attended Berkeley HS. Craddock hails from San Francisco and attended Ruth Asawa School of the Arts. McDonald grew up in Piedmont and attended Piedmont HS. All three have been key contributors for the Bruins this season, with Bynum earning career-best marks on vault (9.9) and floor (9.85), Craddock scoring a career-best 9.775 in the leadoff role last weekend, and McDonald averaging 9.775 on her three routines.
About the Golden Bears
The Golden Bears enter this week’s competition with a 3-4 record and season average of 194.875. Cal’s top mark of the season came in a 196.275-196.875 loss to Utah on Jan. 17. Last weekend, the Golden Bears lost at Arizona State, 195.350-196.000, but posted their highest road score since 2007. Charlie Owens was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week after winning the all-around at ASU with a score of 39.175. Cal is coached by 2013 Pac-12 Coach of the Year Justin Howell.
The Series with Cal
UCLA leads the all-time regular season series with California, 62-1, with the lone Golden Bear victory coming in a 1985 quad meet at Arizona State. The Bruins won both meetings a year ago, placing second to Cal’s third in a home quad meet, and placing second to Cal’s seventh at the Pac-12 Championships.
Bruins Barred in Utah
UCLA got off to a rough start on uneven bars in the first rotation and could not catch up to fourth-ranked Utah, which won the dual meet in Salt Lake City, 197.125-195.875, breaking UCLA’s eight-meet winning streak in the series. The Bruins had to deal with several lineup changes throughout the meet due to illnesses and injury but received a big boost from freshman Hallie Mossett, who won the all-around in the first all-around attempt of her collegiate career, scoring 39.075. After being pulled from her other two events due to the stomach flu, Danusia Francis returned to compete on beam in the final rotation and scored a career-high and meet-winning 9.95.
Mossett Wins in All-Around Debut
In her collegiate all-around debut, freshman Hallie Mossett placed first at Utah with a score of 39.075. Mossett, who became UCLA’s first all-arounder of the season, earned scores of 9.75 on her first vault of the year, 9.75 on bars, 9.775 on beam and 9.8 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 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 seven routines she has competed. She is tied for first in the nation on beam with a 9.925 average.
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 but returned to compete on uneven bars at Utah, where she led the Bruins with a score of 9.875. Peszek is tied for first in the nation on beam (9.925) and is 13th on bars (9.875).
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 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 successful return vs. Oregon State with a vault that scored 9.625. She improved upon her score at Utah, scoring 9.8.
UCLA seniors Olivia Courtney and Sydney Sawa have undoubtedly been the team leaders this season. Their competitive experience and edge has shown in all three meets, with each totaling five 9.9+ scores, including a 9.975 each (Courtney on vault vs. Florida and Sawa on floor vs. Oregon State). The duo have been a strong 1-2 punch on floor, with Courtney ranking 13th in the nation and Sawa ranking fifth.
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 at least three events in each of the last two meets. Against Oregon State, Cipra scored 9.95 on floor, earning a perfect 10 from one of the judges, and Mossett scored a career-high 9.85 on beam and 9.875 on her floor debut. At Utah, Cipra earned 9.875 on floor and tied for the Bruins’ top score on vault with a 9.85, while Mossett won the all-around with a score of 39.075.
Conference of Champions
The Pac-12 Conference leads the nation, along with the SEC, with seven teams ranked in the Top 25. Utah is 4th, UCLA 9th, Stanford 11th, Arizona 13th, Oregon State 15th, Arizona State 19th and California 22nd. Washington is just outside the Top 25 at 28th. All eight Pac-12 teams were also ranked in the preseason Top 25.
UCLA returns home to host Arizona State on Saturday, Feb. 8 at 12:30pm. The meet will be televised live on Pac-12 Networks.