UCLA Gymnastics Team Places Second At NCAA Championships
April 16, 2011
Cleveland, OH - UCLA had a championship performance at the NCAA Super Six, scoring 197.375, but it was not quite enough to overtake Alabama, who won its fifth NCAA title with a score of 197.65.
The outcome of the meet came down to the wire with the Bruins on beam matching Alabama on floor score-for-score, but the Crimson Tide's last two competitors scored 9.925 and 9.95 to secure the title. UCLA finished in second place, Oklahoma was third (197.25), Nebraska placed fourth (196.725), Utah was fifth (196.5), and Michigan finished in sixth (196.425).
UCLA had some question marks going into the meet with the status of Olivia Courtney, who had a hamstring injury, but the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year came through in a big way with a team-best 39.425 all-around score, the third-best overall score of the day.
Courtney was moved to the end of the lineup on floor to better protect her hamstring, and the Bruins started the meet with a 49.35 on the event. Tauny Frattone led off with a 9.825. Niki Tom had a fall on her punch front in her middle pass, but Sydney Sawa, Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs and Brittani McCullough followed with three-straight 9.9s, and Courtney closed with a 9.825.
With Alabama scoring 49.575 on vault, the Bruins needed to keep pace and did so with a score of 49.5 on vault. Sawa was subbed in late as the leadoff, and the decision paid off in dividends, as she stuck her Yurchenko layout full for a career-high 9.9. Samantha Peszek also stuck her Yurchenko full for a career-high 9.9. After a 9.825 from Hopfner-Hibbs and a 9.85 from McCullough, Frattone stuck a Yurchenko half on front pike off for a career-high tying 9.95, and Courtney finished with a stuck 9.9 vault to put the Bruins in a dead-heat with the Crimson Tide with matching two-event scores of 98.85.
While UCLA was on a bye, Alabama moved to beam and overcame a fall in the middle of its rotation to come away with a 49.35 team score and three-event total of 148.2. The Bruins nearly matched the score in the fifth rotation, scoring 49.325 on uneven bars. McCullough started with a 9.775, Courtney and Aisha Gerber each earned 9.85s. Monique De La Torre matched her career-high with a 9.925, and Peszek's 9.875 put the Bruins just .025 behind Alabama (148.175-148.2) with one rotation remaining.
Along with needing to outscore Alabama by .025 in the last rotation, UCLA also needed to score 49.1 to overtake Oklahoma, who had finished its competition. The Bruins had the added challenge of having to do this on the balance beam, where they had to count a fall in the semifinals, while Alabama was on floor. Gerber led off with a 9.85, and Hopfner-Hibbs overcame a few wobbles to score 9.825. Tom earned the Bruins' top beam score of the night, scoring a season-high 9.875 to put UCLA slightly ahead of Alabama, whose first three up on floor scored 9.85, 9.8 and 9.85. The Bruins finished strong with a 9.725 from McCullough, a 9.8 from Peszek, and a 9.85 from Courtney, but the back end of Alabama's lineup scored 9.875, 9.925 and 9.95, which gave the Crimson Tide a 49.45 and the win.
"I could not be more proud of this team," said UCLA head coach Valorie Kondos Field. "I thought we would do well, but I had no idea where we would finish. We had to overcome so many obstacles this season, and to reach this point, I could not feel any happier right now than if we had finished first."
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