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UCLA Athletics
Ellette Craddock and Head Coach Valorie Kondos Field (photo by Christy Linder)
Bruins Place Fifth in NCAA Semifinals
By: UCLA Athletics
Birmingham, Ala. - UCLA was edged out of a spot in the Super Six by .125, scoring 197.0 to finish in fifth place in the second semifinal at the NCAA Gymnastics Championships. Advancing to Saturday night's finals were Florida and Alabama, who tied for first with scores of 197.65, and Nebraska, who scored 197.100. Utah finished fourth with 197.025, and Penn State was sixth with 194.825.

Balance beam turned out to be the deciding factor among the three teams duking it out for third place. UCLA started the meet on beam and scored just 49.075 after a few shaky routines and missed connections. Utah followed UCLA on beam in the second rotation and had stumbles on the first two routines, scoring 48.975 as a team. In its final rotation, Nebraska owned the beam, scoring four 9.9s and dropping a 9.825 en route to a 49.45.

Questionable connections on beam plagued UCLA throughout the lineup. Hallie Mossett broke a connection on a series and had to repeat it, leading the way to a 9.6. Olivia Courtney had a pause in her series that could have gone either way and went the other way, scoring 9.8. Sophina DeJesus, who is nursing a sprained ankle, had a big break in her series and scored 9.675. Danusia Francis' famous sideways side aerial to full twisting dismount also had a questionable connection that earned her just 9.875. Samantha Peszek had a noticeable wobble in her routine, dropping her score to 9.85. Ellette Craddock, however, gave very little to deduct in her routine. Craddock, who was competing in her first-ever NCAA Championship, hit a confident and elegant routine, scoring a career-best 9.875 to tie Francis for the team's top score on beam.

After a bye, UCLA moved to floor exercise, where Jennifer Pinches led off with a 9.85 for the third-straight meet in the postseason. Francis followed with a 9.875, and Sadiqua Bynum performed her best routine of the season, hitting her double layout with ease en route to a 9.85 score. Peszek also nailed her double layout to score 9.9, and Courtney earned 9.875. Sydney Sawa closed the set with a 9.9 to give UCLA a total of 49.4 on floor and a two-event total of 98.475, which was good for fourth place at the halfway point.

Moving to vault in rotation four, Pinches earned a leadoff mark of 9.8, and Mossett tied her career-high with a 9.85. After a 9.75 from Bynum and 9.775 from Sawa, Peszek and Courtney picked it up with a 9.9 and 9.95, respectively. Courtney's stuck vault improved UCLA's team score to 49.275 and jumped the Bruins into second place with a total of 147.750, a smidge ahead of Utah (147.725) and Nebraska (147.650).

UCLA waited it out on a bye in rotation five as Utah finished up on vault. The Utes scored 49.3 on vault to finish with 197.025, but Nebraska overtook the Utes with a 49.45 on beam that lifted its score to 197.100.

Needing 49.375 on bars in the final rotation to move ahead of Nebraska for third place, the Bruins fell just shy, scoring 49.25. Francis and Mossett scored 9.8s, Sawa stuck her dismount and scored 9.825, and Courtney and DeJesus added 9.85s. Peszek closed with a 9.925, but the Bruins had already been mathematically eliminated from advancing to the Super Six.

Peszek finished fourth overall in the all-around with 39.575 and advanced to Sunday's individual event finals on bars. She finished with first-team All-America honors in the all-around and on bars and second-team on vault and floor. Courtney also advanced to event finals on vault and earned first-team All-America acclaim on that event and second-team status in the all-around. Sawa received second-team All-America honors on floor.

UCLA Health Sponsor - Event Information
Saturday, Apr 02
vs. NCAA Regionals
Salt Lake City, UT
2nd, 196,375
Friday, Apr 15
vs. NCAA Team Semifinals
Fort Worth, TX
3rd, 196.700
Saturday, Apr 16
vs. NCAA Super Six
Fort Worth, TX
5th, 196.825