Jan. 2, 2013
Season Opener Sunday
The preseason No. 2 UCLA gymnastics team begins its 2013 season on Sunday, Jan. 6 with the annual John Wooden Challenge. The Bruins will face off against Southern Utah at 2 pm. For the Bruins, the meet marks a return home to New Pauley Pavilion, which was closed for renovations last season. UCLA was a perfect 5-0 in the John Wooden Center in 2012 to record its first undefeated home season since 2004.
Tickets for the UCLA-Southern Utah meet are on sale now at the UCLA Central Ticket Office. For the best value, season tickets are on sale for $40 and include reserved seating to all five regular season home meets. Single-meet general admission tickets are also on sale at the UCLA Central Ticket Office and at Ticketmaster for $8 for adults and $5 for youth (16 and under). UCLA students are free with ID. UCLA faculty and staff can receive up to four complimentary general admission tickets by showing a valid BruinCard or paystub at the main gate.
UCLABruins.com will host free audio broadcasts, as well as live scoring, of all Bruin home meets. All home meets other than the Jan. 12 Utah meet, which will be aired live on Pac-12 Networks, will have live streaming video through Pac-12.com. Darren Preston and Allison Taylor will provide commentary. Fans can also get updates via Twitter by following @UCLAGymnastics.
Providing pre-meet entertainment will be rhythmic gymnasts from the Los Angeles School of Gymnastics, who will perform their competition routines for Bruin fans in preparation for the upcoming LA Lights Rhythmic Gymnastics Competition. The 2013 UCLA team poster will be distributed to the first 1,000 in attendance, and meet poster programs will be available to the first 500 in attendance. The Bruin team will have a postmeet autograph session following the awards ceremony. Visit uclabruins.com to see the promotional calendar and entertainment schedule for the 2013 home meets.
John Wooden Challenge
The eighth annual John Wooden Challenge features a postmeet recognition of all competing teams' academic and athletic achievements. UCLA is honored to host the nation's top academic gymnastics team, Southern Utah, which posted a team GPA of 3.843 during the 2011-12 school year to earn its 12th academic national championship. The Thunderbirds had 12 Scholastic All-Americans on its roster a year ago.
In The Rankings
UCLA opens the season ranked No. 2 in the preseason coaches poll, continuing a streak of being ranked in the preseason Top 5 every year since the poll began in 1998. The Bruins, who won the 2012 Pac-12 Championship and finished a close third at the NCAA Championships, received five of 28 first-place votes. UCLA will face nine of the Top 25 teams this season, including six in the Top 10 - No. 1 Alabama, No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 5 Utah, No. 6 Stanford, No. 9 Oregon State and No. 10 Michigan. Also on the schedule for the Bruins are No. 12 Arkansas, No. 17 Washington, and No. 19 Arizona.
Bruins No. 1 In Pac-12 Coaches Poll
For the second consecutive year, UCLA was picked as the preseason favorite to win the Pac-12 in a polling of the Conference's eight coaches. The defending Pac-12 champions received 46 points and four first-place votes to edge out 2012 Pac-12 runner-up Utah, which had 44 points and four first-place votes.
UCLA in Season Openers
UCLA is opening its season against a team from Utah for the fifth consecutive year. The last four season openers had been against the University of Utah. The Bruins have never lost a season opener at home, posting wins 11 times.
About The Bruins
The Bruins return five All-Americans from last year's Pac-12 championship squad, including 2010 NCAA vault champion Vanessa Zamarripa, two-time Pac-12 vault champion Olivia Courtney and 2011 first-team uneven bars All-American Monique De La Torre. Also returning are Kaelie Baer, Mattie Larson and Alyssa Pritchett, who each contributed to the Bruins' strong performance at the NCAA Super Six. The Bruins also regain the services of 2011 floor exercise All-American Sydney Sawa, who did not compete last year due to a shoulder injury, and Scholastic All-American Lichelle Wong, who missed the second half of the season with an Achilles injury,
Along with the loss of three seniors (Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs, Aisha Gerber and Tauny Frattone) who contributed eight high-scoring routines at the NCAAs, the Bruins face another big loss with the injury to 2011 NCAA beam champion Samantha Peszek, who tore her Achilles tendon in December and will redshirt the season. UCLA does bring in a strong freshman class, however, led by 2012 British Olympic alternate Danusia Francis, 2012 Canadian Olympic honorary captain Christine Peng-Peng Lee, and former U.S. national team member Sophina DeJesus.
Super Seniors Back for Fifth Season
The Bruins have three redshirt seniors returning for 2013 - Kaelie Baer, Alyssa Pritchett and Vanessa Zamarripa. Baer sat out in 2010 and most of 2011 due to injuries but returned strong in 2012, competing in every meet for the Bruins on vault and contributing career-high scores of 9.875 on beam both days of competition at the NCAA Championships. Pritchett also enjoyed a breakout year in 2012 after missing 2011 with a stress fracture in her ankle. She competed on floor exercise in each of the Bruins' last 11 meets and recorded two victories. She averaged 9.802 on the year and posted career-bests of 9.9 twice. Zamarripa sat out 2011 with a ruptured Achilles and came back in 2012 to score two perfect 10s on vault and enjoy a dominating all-around performance at the NCAA Super Six, scoring a career-high 39.775.
Peszek Out for Season
UCLA junior Samantha Peszek will sit out the 2013 gymnastics season after suffering a torn right Achilles tendon in practice on Dec. 17. She underwent successful surgery on Dec. 20 and will have two years of eligibility remaining after she redshirts this year. Peszek is a four-time All-American and won the 2011 NCAA Balance Beam title. She was also a silver medalist on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team and gold medalist on the 2007 World Championship team.
About The Thunderbirds
Southern Utah is coached by Scott Bauman, the longest-tenured head coach at the university, in his 22nd season. Bauman has a young squad with just three seniors and 11 underclassmen. The team is led by senior and two-time defending WAC uneven bars champion Alyssa Click.
The Series With Southern Utah
UCLA is 6-1 all-time against Southern Utah, but the Thunderbirds won the last meeting in the series, a 194.750-194.425 defeat in Logan, Utah on Jan. 14, 2011. The Bruins dug themselves deep into a hole after scoring just 48.25 on bars in rotation one, and things got progressively worse in rotation three after they recorded a mere 47.95 on floor. A strong finish on balance beam (49.1) and an all-around victory by Olivia Courtney helped take the sting out, but it wasn't enough to avoid the upset.
Pac-12 Networks to Televise Two UCLA Dual Meets
UCLA gymnastics dual meets against Utah on Jan. 12 and at Stanford Feb. 2 will be televised live nationally on the Pac-12 Networks. The six-time NCAA champion Bruins will host nine-time NCAA champion Utah in the Pac-12 Networks' first-ever live gymnastics broadcast on Saturday, Jan. 12. The meet will be held in New Pauley Pavilion at 7:30pm PT. The UCLA at Stanford meet will also be a live broadcast and will take place at Stanford's Burnham Pavilion on Saturday, Feb. 2 at 4pm PT.
Also on the Pac-12 Networks schedule is the Pac-12 Championships, held Saturday, Mar. 23 in Corvallis, Ore.
UCLA Signs Two in Early Signing Period
UCLA head coach Valorie Kondos Field signed two gymnasts in the early signing period in November - two-time U.S. National Team member Hallie Mossett and reigning Level 10 national floor exercise champion Angela Cipra. The duo will join the six-time NCAA champion Bruins for the 2014 season.
Mossett is a local product from West Coast Elite Gymnastics and Vistamar HS. She is a five-time VISA Championships competitor, qualifying for the national championship meet from 2007-11. Her highest finish at the VISA Championships was a ninth-place showing to make the national team in 2008. She also had Top 15 finishes in 2009 (12th) and 2007 (15th). In 2011, Mossett was named to the U.S. National team and was an alternate for the Pan American Games.
Cipra hails from Mesa, Ariz. and trains at Desert Devils while attending school at Saguaro HS. A Level 10 gymnast since 2010, Cipra quickly rose to the top of the ranks, winning the 2012 national floor exercise title and placing third on vault. She also swept the all-around and all four events at both the Region 1 and State Championships.
UCLA hosts Utah on Saturday, Jan. 12 at 7:30 pm in a meet televised live on the Pac-12 Networks.
Season and Single-Meet Tickets On Sale Now
Tickets for the 2013 season are on sale now. For just $40, fans can purchase a UCLA reserved season ticket for all five home meets (Jan. 6 vs. Southern Utah; Jan. 12 vs. Utah; Feb. 10 vs. Washington, Sacramento State and UC Davis; Mar. 10 vs. Michigan, California and Iowa State; and Mar. 17 vs. Arkansas). Single-meet general admission tickets are also available for sale for $8 adults/$5 youth (16 and under). All home meets in 2013 will take place in the New Pauley Pavilion. Tickets can be purchased online at uclabruins.com/tickets or by phone at 310-UCLA-WIN (310-825-2946).
UCLA to Host 2013 NCAA Championships
UCLA will host the 2013 NCAA Championships in Pauley Pavilion on Apr. 19-21. This will be UCLA's fourth time hosting the NCAA gymnastics championships. The Bruins won the national title the last time they hosted in 2004, scoring an NCAA record 198.125. UCLA also previously hosted in 1998 and 1984. Tickets for the Championships are on sale now at uclabruins.com/tickets.