March 13, 2013
UCLA Hosts Arkansas
Eighth-ranked UCLA (9-4) wraps up its regular season with a dual meet in Pauley Pavilion against 15th-ranked Arkansas (6-6-1) on Sunday, Mar. 17 at 2 pm.
UCLA will honor its five seniors - Kaelie Baer, Monique De La Torre, Alyssa Pritchett, Lichelle Wong and Vanessa Zamarripa - after Sunday's meet. This group of seniors has won a NCAA Championship (2010), three NCAA Regional championships and two Pac-12 championships (fifth-year seniors Baer, Pritchett and Zamarripa have won three) and has placed in the Top 3 at the last three NCAA Championships. All five have been instrumental figures in the Bruins' success this season.
Fans are encouraged to wear blue for a Blue Out in the home finale. UCLA student India Carney will be performing pre-meet, and UCLA a cappella group Scattertones will sing the national anthem, with colors presented by the Girl Scout Color Guard. The meet is presented by Elite Sportz Band.
Sunday's meet will be video streamed on pac-12.com. Live stats will be hosted at uclabruins.com. Follow @uclagymnastics on Twitter for live updates as well.
Tickets for the meet are on sale at the UCLA Central Ticket Office and at Ticketmaster. Reserved tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for youth (16 and under). General admission tickets are $8 for adults/$5 for youth. UCLA students are free with ID.
In the Rankings
UCLA was leapfrogged in the national rankings by two teams and dropped to No. 8 with a RQS of 196.905. The Bruins rank fourth on beam (49.195), eighth on vault (49.320) and floor (49.285) and ninth on bars (49.220).
Vanessa Zamarripa remains ranked No. 1 in the nation in the all-around (39.590) for the fifth consecutive week. She also ranks No. 2 on vault (9.940), No. 4 on floor (9.925) and No. 6 on bars (9.905). Olivia Courtney ranks 18th on vault (9.895), Lichelle Wong is 25th on bars (9.870), Danusia Francis ranks 15th on beam (9.875), and Alyssa Pritchett is 16th on floor (9.895).
Bruins Hit 24-for-24, Place Second in Heart of a Champion Meet
UCLA hit 24-for-24 routines and posted its third-highest score of the season (197.075) but finished second to third-ranked Michigan (197.550) in a quad meet in Pauley Pavilion. UCLA earned season-high scores of 49.375 on both vault and bars to take the lead at the halfway mark only to see Michigan post scores of 49.55 or higher on its final two events to secure the victory. The Bruins had to overcome adversity after losing Mattie Larson to a knee injury during warmups but had big performances from several gymnasts, including 9.95 scores from Olivia Courtney and Vanessa Zamarripa on vault and Alyssa Pritchett on floor, and a 9.925 on bars from Monique De La Torre that elicited a perfect 10 from one judge.
Pritchett Earns First Career Pac-12 Weekly Award
Fifth-year senior Alyssa Pritchett earned her first-ever Pac-12 weekly award, receiving Pac-12 Special Performance of the Week honors. Pritchett scored a career-high 9.95 on floor exercise to tie for first place with Michigan's Joanna Sampson, who ranks No. 1 in the nation on the event. It was Pritchett's first floor win of the season and her first-ever 9.95 score. She averages a team-best 9.889 on floor and has not scored lower than 9.85 all season. She currently ranks No. 16 in the nation.
About The Razorbacks
Arkansas had a 10-point rise in the rankings this week after scoring a road season-high 196.350 in its last meet at Minnesota. The Razorbacks are ranked No. 12 on floor, No. 13 on bars, No. 21 on vault and No. 22 on beam. Individually, Katherine Grable is ranked No. 25 in the all-around, and Shelby Salmon ranks No. 20 on uneven bars. Arkansas is coached by Mark Cook and Rene Lyst. Cook was an assistant coach on UCLA's first NCAA Championship team in 1997.
UCLA is 3-1 against Arkansas in the regular season, its only loss coming in the last meeting in Pauley Pavilion in 2009, when the Razorbacks upset both UCLA and Alabama in a quad meet. The Bruins took first in the last meeting with the Razorbacks at the 2012 NCAA Regionals in Fayetteville.
Sophomore Mattie Larson underwent a successful knee scope on Tuesday to remove bone chips. She will return to activity as tolerated. Christine Peng-Peng Lee, who underwent knee surgery last summer, has not yet been cleared to compete and will hence redshirt the season. Samantha Peszek (Achilles) and Ellette Craddock (finger) will also redshirt after suffering season-ending injuries.
Super Seniors Leading the Way
The Bruins' three redshirt seniors - Kaelie Baer, Alyssa Pritchett and Vanessa Zamarripa - are making the most of their final season of competition. Baer, who sat out the 2010 season and most of 2011 due to injuries, has competed in every meet in 2012 and 2013. This season, she has scored a career-high 9.9 on vault in her last two meets and is averaging 9.858 on the year. She has been a consistent leadoff performer on beam with a high of 9.8 achieved four times. Pritchett enjoyed a breakout year in 2012 after missing 2011 with a stress fracture in her ankle and came back even better in 2013, averaging a team-best 9.889 on floor with Top 3 finishes in six meets and a new career-high of 9.95 set Mar. 10. 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. Dominating doesn't even begin to describe Zamarripa's 2013 campaign thus far. She has captured 18 out of a possible 34 event titles this year and has won the Pac-12 Gymnast of the Week award four times. She currently ranks in the Top 10 nationally on three events and has been ranked No. 1 in the all-around for five weeks straight.
Rookie Performers Shine
With UCLA needing to replace 12 routines from last year's NCAA Championships, many new faces have emerged to play key roles in 2013. Freshmen Sophina DeJesus and Danusia Francis jumped right into competition, with the duo combining to win six events in UCLA's eight meets. DeJesus has one victory each on uneven bars and balance beam, while Francis has won beam in a team-best four meets. A pair of sophomores who did not compete due to injuries a year ago have also been steady competitors. Dana McDonald is averaging 9.792 on vault and 9.822 on floor in leadoff positions. She set a new career-high on floor Mar. 10 with a 9.875, and at Oregon State on Feb. 16, she competed on beam for just the second time this season and scored a career-high 9.8. Sadiqua Bynum has competed in eight of nine meets on floor, with a high of 9.85 set Feb. 10. Additionally, two other athletes who missed most of last season with injuries, are back - junior Sydney Sawa, who has been slowed lately with an ankle sprain, scored 9.8 on vault vs. Utah and scored on floor at ASU, and senior Lichelle Wong, who had season-highs on all four events and the all-around at Oregon State and a career-high on vault and season-high on floor and all-around Mar. 10. Wong ranked No. 1 in the nation on bars in the first two weekly rankings and is currently 25th.
Courtney Continues Consistent Effort
Junior Olivia Courtney has been one of the Bruins' most consistent gymnasts since her freshman season. Through her career, she has hit 106 of 109 routines (97%), with her only three misses all coming on balance beam. She is 28-for-28 this season and averages 9.869 on vault, 9.822 on bars, 9.742 on beam and 9.868 on floor. At UCLA's Feb. 10 quad meet, she posted 39.475 in the all-around, just .025 shy of a personal-best, and tied for first on beam with a season-high 9.875. She was also rock-solid in her last all-around effort on Mar. 10, scoring 39.4 to tie for second and winning vault with a 9.95. She also set a new season-high on bars with a 9.875.
Francis, McDonald Hitting Like Veterans
Freshman Danusia Francis and sophomore Dana McDonald have been unflappable this season, hitting all of their routines in competition without a fall. Francis is 21-for-21 with averages of 9.761 on bars and 9.842 on beam, and McDonald is 20-for-20 and averaging 9.792 on vault and 9.822 on floor. Both recorded career-highs of 9.875 (Francis on bars and McDonald on floor) at last weekend's meet.
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 NCAAs. 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.