March 7, 2012
UCLA Hosts Oklahoma -- For the second-straight week, third-ranked UCLA (9-2-1) will face a Top 5 opponent, hosting second-ranked Oklahoma (16-2) on Sunday, Mar. 11 in the team's regular season finale. The meet will take place at the John Wooden Center at 2pm.
Blue Out -- All Bruin fans are encouraged to wear blue to the meet on Sunday to create a blue-out in the Wooden Center. There will be prizes and giveaways on hand for fans wearing blue.
Senior Salute -- UCLA's senior class of Kaelie Baer, Tauny Frattone, Aisha Gerber and Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs will be honored in postmeet ceremonies. The Bruin seniors have won two conference titles and the 2010 NCAA Championship and have combined to earn 13 All-America honors. They have been rocks for the Bruins this season, with all four playing pivotal roles on the team's success.
Baer is averaging 9.814 on vault as the leadoff vaulter and has also contributed high marks on beam, including a career-high 9.85 in the win over Stanford. Frattone remains one of the strongest vaulters in the nation, recording career-high scores of 9.95 three times and averaging 9.872. On floor exercise, usually competing at the top of the lineup, she is averaging 9.803, with a high of 9.875. Gerber, the reigning Pac-12 bars co-champion, has been terrific on the event in 2012 as well, ranking 12th nationally, recording a team-best three wins and scoring 9.9 four times. Hopfner-Hibbs has returned to the all-around lineup in the last three meets, averaging 39.417. Two weeks ago, she tied her career-high on floor with a 9.95 and came within .025 of her career-high in the all-around, scoring 39.575. Hopfner-Hibbs ranks fourth nationally on floor and 20th on beam. She has a team-leading four victories on floor.
2013 Season Tickets On Sale Sunday -- It's never too early to plan ahead. Season tickets for the 2013 season are on sale now. As a bonus, every 2013 season ticket ordered earns you a gumball, which you can redeem from a giant gumball machine at Sunday's meet. Whatever color you get will determine your prize. Prizes include t-shirts, sweatshirts, invitations to the team banquet, tickets to the 2013 NCAA Championships, and much more!
In the Rankings -- UCLA remains No. 3 in the national rankings with a RQS of 197.085. The Bruins are first on vault (49.485), second on floor (49.285) and third on bars (49.270) and beam (49.220).
Vanessa Zamarripa ranks second in the nation on vault (9.925) and is joined in the Top 20 on vault by Olivia Courtney (No. 6, 9.910) and Tauny Frattone (No. 13, 9.9). On uneven bars, three Bruins are in the Top 25 - Aisha Gerber (No. 12, 9.880), Zamarripa (No. 17, 9.875) and Courtney (No. 25, 9.855). Samantha Peszek and Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs are ranked in the Top 15 on beam, with Peszek No. 9 (9.875) and Hopfner-Hibbs No. 20 (9.855). On floor exercise, Hopfner-Hibbs ranks fourth (9.905), and Olivia Courtney ranks 15th (9.880).
Top Three Showdown -- UCLA and Oklahoma have been among the top three teams in this decade, with UCLA winning the NCAA title in 2010 and finishing second in 2011 and Oklahoma finishing second in 2010 and third in 2011. In 2012, the two teams have been ranked in the Top 3 since RQS rankings went into effect. The Sooners are averaging 196.880 with a high of 197.450 and have scored 197+ in their last five meets. The Bruins average 196.758 with a high of 198.050 and have scored 197+ three times and 196.775 or higher in each of the last five meets.
About the Bruins -- UCLA returns eight All-Americans from last year's NCAA runner-up squad, including reigning NCAA beam champion Samantha Peszek and 2010 NCAA vault champion Vanessa Zamarripa, who redshirted a year ago with a torn Achilles tendon. Other All-Americans back for UCLA are 10-time All-American Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs, two-time honoree Aisha Gerber, 2011 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Olivia Courtney, Monique De La Torre, Tauny Frattone and Sydney Sawa. The Bruins also bring in an outstanding freshman class, led by 2010 U.S. floor exercise champion and World Championships silver medalist Mattie Larson, as well as U.S. national team member Cassie Whitcomb.
The Bruins are coached by UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame member Valorie Kondos Field. She is assisted by Associate Head Coach and 1992 Olympian Chris Waller. New to the staff in 2012 are familiar faces to Bruin fans - assistant coach Randy Lane, who helped guide UCLA to two NCAA titles and was the 2000 NACGC/W National Assistant Coach of the Year, and volunteer coach Amy Smith, who was the co-captain for UCLA's 1997 NCAA championship team and an assistant coach at the University of Missouri from 2007-11.
About the Sooners -- Oklahoma enters the competition ranked No. 2 nationally for the third straight week. The Sooners are No. 1 on floor (49.365), No. 2 on beam (49.345) and No. 4 on vault (49.355) and bars (49.240). Two Sooners rank No. 1 nationally - Sara Stone on vault (9.935) and Megan Ferguson on floor (9.940). Ferguson also ranks second on bars (9.900) and beam (9.920).
In regular season competition, UCLA is 0-3 all-time vs. Oklahoma, with the last competition being in 2003 at the UCLA Invitational, which the Sooners won with a score of 197.475.
Season-High Road Score Not Enough at Georgia -- UCLA earned its highest road score of the season, but it wasn't enough to defeat fourth-ranked Georgia, who outscored the Bruins, 197.700-196.975, on Mar. 2. The Bruins were less than a tenth of a point out of first at the halfway mark, but a season-high 49.475 beam set by Georgia in the third rotation shifted the momentum the host team's way, and the Bruins couldn't match it in the fourth rotation, scoring just 49.025 on beam. Tauny Frattone tied for first on vault with a 9.95, and Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs tied for first on floor with a 9.925.
Bruins Break 198 -- UCLA made a big statement, scoring 198.050 in a dual meet victory over 24th-ranked Arizona State (194.850) on Feb. 26. The score was the highest in the nation this year and the highest by a Bruin team since winning the 2004 NCAA Championships. The Bruins posted team totals of 49.475 or better on every event, including a 49.6 on floor, and totaled 13 marks of 9.9 or higher, including three 9.95s and a 9.975.
Vanessa Zamarripa won the all-around with a mark of 39.625, the highest by a Bruin this season. Olivia Courtney won vault with a career-high 9.975 and tied for first on floor exercise with Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs with another career-high 9.95. Monique De La Torre won uneven bars with a career-high 9.95. Zamarripa, Samantha Peszek and Mattie Larson tied for first on balance beam with scores of 9.925.
Peszek Goes Hands-Free -- Samantha Peszek tied her career-high on balance beam on Feb. 26 by not only performing one of the most difficult beam routines ever in NCAA competition but by doing it without use of her hands. Peszek has been battling wrist soreness from an academic injury and modified her beam routine to do non-weight-bearing skills. She scored 9.925 on a routine, now dubbed the "bluetooth" routine, that included a standing full, front aerial/back pike and standing layout stepout to layout full dismount.
Vault Powerhouse -- UCLA's vault lineup has been the best in the nation this season. The Bruins are averaging 49.428 on the event and have scored 49.45 or better in seven of nine meets. Three Bruin vaulters are ranked in the Top 20 nationally - No. 2 Vanessa Zamarripa (9.925 RQS, national-best 9.928 average), No. 6 Olivia Courtney (9.910 RQS, 9.906 average) and No. 13 Tauny Frattone (9.900 RQS, 9.872 average). Five others average over 9.8 - Samantha Peszek (9.890), Monique De La Torre (9.875), Mattie Larson (9.863), Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs (9.820), and Kaelie Baer (9.814).
The Bruins' vault total of 49.575 at Cal ranks as the sixth-best vault score in school history, while the 49.55 from the season opener against Utah ranks as the seventh-best.
No Sophomore Slump -- Sophomores Samantha Peszek and Olivia Courtney have been as consistent as they get for the Bruins. Peszek has hit 25 of her 26 routines this season, with her only fall coming on beam at Oregon State when she modified her routine in order to be non-weight-bearing on her sore wrist. Twenty-three of Peszek's 26 routines have scored 9.825 or higher, and she has won the all-around in four out of five meets, with a career-high of 39.55 set Feb. 5. Peszek, who sat out the first month of last season with a foot fracture and was limited to no more than three events the rest of season, has posted career-highs on all but one event this year, earning high marks of 9.925 on vault and beam and 9.9 on floor.
Courtney has hit 23 of 25 routines for 9.7 or higher, with 15 of her 25 routines scoring 9.875 or higher. Against Arizona State on Feb. 26, she set new career-highs on vault (9.975) and floor (9.95) to take first place honors. On both routines, she received a perfect 10 from one of the two judges. Courtney has two event titles each on vault, bars and floor and has totaled 16 Top 3 finishes, including seven on vault. On Mar. 2 at Georgia, she returned to the all-around lineup for the first time since the season opener and scored a team-best 39.325 to place third.
Zamarripa Finds Perfection Again -- Over a year after rupturing her Achilles tendon and sitting out the 2011 season, Vanessa Zamarripa is back to her perfect ways, recording a perfect 10 on vault on Jan. 15 in just her second meet back from her injury. The 10.0 was the fifth of her career. Only one other Bruin gymnast has scored more 10s on vault (Jeanette Antolin - 12), and Zamarripa now ranks fifth on UCLA's all-time list for most perfect 10s, tying with Kristen Maloney.
Zamarripa has scored 9.9+ on vault in 17 consecutive meets and in 30 of 36 meets in her career. She has never scored lower than 9.8 on vault and holds a career average of 9.916. She had a string of 68 consecutive hit routines snapped when she fell on beam in the last rotation at Georgia on Mar. 2.
Injury Update -- Junior Lichelle Wong ruptured her right Achilles tendon on Feb. 17 at Oregon State and will miss the remainder of the season. Freshman Dana McDonald also suffered a season-ending Achilles injury on Feb. 10 in Chicago, rupturing her left Achilles tendon while performing an exhibition routine on floor exercise. McDonald had performed in exhibition in a total of five meets. Sydney Sawa, who had shoulder surgery early in the year, could return to action this week on floor exercise. Samantha Peszek's wrist soreness has improved, and she returned to the uneven bars lineup last week.
Looking Ahead -- The Bruins will compete in the Pac-12 Championships on Mar. 24 in Salt Lake City, Utah.