Top-Seeded UCLA Competes for Pac-12 Gymnastics Championship
March 19, 2012
Pac-12 Championships -- The first-ever Pac-12 Gymnastics Championships will take place on Saturday, Mar. 24 at the Jon M. Huntsman Center on the University of Utah's campus. With eight teams now in the Pac-12, the Championships will be held in two sessions. Seeds 5-8 will compete at 2 pm MT in Session I, and seeds 1-4 will compete at 7 pm MT in Session II. UCLA is the No. 1 seed and will compete in Session II. Seeding is determined by national rankings, which are based on Regional Qualifying Score (RQS).
Championship Schedule -- The afternoon session of the Pac-12 Championships will feature No. 5 seed Arizona, No. 6 seed Washington, No. 7 seed Arizona State and No. 8 seed California. The second session showcases the Top 4 seeds in No. 1 UCLA, No. 2 Utah, No. 3 Oregon State and No. 4 Stanford. The Pac-12 champion will be the team with the highest score from the two sessions. Individual champions will also be determined via combined sessions.
Rotation Order -- The rotation order for the Championships was determined by blind draw last May. The Nos. 2 (Utah) and 6 (Washington) seeds will start on the vault. Nos. 3 (Oregon State) and 7 (Arizona State) will start on bars. Nos. 4 (Stanford) and 8 (California) will start on the beam, and the Nos. 1 (UCLA) and 5 (Arizona) seeds will begin on the floor.
Coverage -- The Pac-12 Championships will be televised on a delayed basis by Fox Sports Net beginning on Mar. 29. Prime Ticket will televise the meet on Mar. 29 at 6 pm. Providing the call will be Jim Watson and 1996 Olympic gold medalist Amanda Borden. Live stats will be available at utahutes.com.
Pride Of The Pac -- The Pac-12 is one of the most competitive conferences in the nation, with seven of the eight teams ranked in the Top 30 and four ranked in the Top 11. UCLA is the conference's highest-ranked squad at No. 4. Utah ranks No. 7, followed closely by Oregon State at No. 8. Stanford ranks 11th, Arizona ranks 17th, Washington is 22nd, and Arizona State is 26th.
Conference Championship History -- UCLA has won the most conference championships amongst the eight member schools with 15 Pac-10 titles (1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010) and 1 WCAA title (1981). Oregon State (1991, 1992, 1994, 1996, 2011) and Stanford (1998, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2008) and are the only other teams to win Pac-10 titles. Utah has eight conference titles, winning HCAC Championships from 1986-90 and WAC Championships from 1991-93. The Utes competed as an independent from 1994-2011. Arizona State has four conference titles - the 1986 Pac West crown and the 1982, 1983 and 1985 WCAA titles.
UCLA has dominated individually at the Pac-10 Championships, winning a conference-best 76 individual titles. The Bruins have been especially dominant in the all-around, winning 17 titles, including 11 in the last 15 years (includes ties). UCLA gymnasts have won 20 titles on bars, 15 on floor, 13 on vault and 11 on beam.
All but one defending event champion will be competing at the Pac-12 Championships this year - reigning vault champion Olivia Courtney of UCLA; uneven bars co-champions Courtney and Aisha Gerber of UCLA and Makayla Stambaugh, Leslie Mak and Olivia Vivian of Oregon State; balance beam champion Mak; floor exercise co-champions Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs of UCLA and Ashley Morgan of Stanford; and all-around champion Mak. Additionally, UCLA's Vanessa Zamarripa won the Pac-10 all-around and vault titles in 2010.
Last Year At Pac-10 Championships -- Oregon State won its first Pac-10 title in 15 years, taking top honors with a season-high score of 197.200. The host Bruins placed second with a score of 196.750, and Washington earned its highest finish in 10 years, placing third with a 196.025. Oregon State's Leslie Mak won the all-around and two events en route to earning Pac-10 Gymnast of the Year honors. UCLA's Olivia Courtney was named the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and won vault and uneven bars titles.
Conference Awards To Be Handed Out - Conference awards for Gymnast of the Year, Freshman/Newcomer of the Year, Toyo Tires Scholar-Athlete of the Year and Coach of the Year will be handed out at the conclusion of the Pac-12 Championship meet. UCLA has won 12 of the last 15 Gymnast of the Year awards, most recently Vanessa Zamarripa in 2010, and a total of 17 in 25 years. Head coach Valorie Kondos Field has won Coach of the Year honors three times (1995, 2000, 2003). UCLA has produced seven conference Freshmen/Newcomers of the Year since the inception of the award in 2000 - Olivia Courtney in 2011, Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs in 2009, Brittani McCullough in 2008, Ariana Berlin in 2006 (shared with Jami Lanz of Oregon State), Tasha Schwikert in 2005, Kate Richardson in 2003 and Doni Thompson in 2000. The Scholar-Athlete of the Year was established in 2008, and UCLA has one winner - Ariana Berlin in 2009.
In the Rankings -- UCLA slipped one spot to No. 4 in the national rankings with a RQS of 197.140. The Bruins are first on vault (49.490), fourth on bars (49.280) fifth on beam (49.220) and third on floor (49.315).
Vanessa Zamarripa ranks fourth in the nation on vault (9.925) and is joined in the Top 10 on vault by Olivia Courtney (No. 9, 9.910) and Tauny Frattone (No. 9, 9.9). On uneven bars, two Bruins are in the Top 25 - Aisha Gerber (No. 17, 9.880), Zamarripa (No. 22, 9.875). Samantha Peszek and Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs are ranked in the Top 20 on beam, with Peszek No. 9 (9.885) and Hopfner-Hibbs No. 19 (9.865). On floor exercise, Hopfner-Hibbs ranks third (9.920), and Olivia Courtney ranks 24th (9.880).
Bruins Close Regular Season with Win over No. 2 Oklahoma -- In a matchup between two of the nation's Top 3 gymnastics teams, No. 3 UCLA easily defeated No. 2 Oklahoma, 197.525-196.475, at a sold-out John Wooden Center Mar. 11. The meet was highlighted by a perfect 10 on vault by Tauny Frattone, the first of her career.
The Bruins recorded their fourth 197+ score of the season on the strength of dual 49.5 marks on vault and floor. Sophomore Samantha Peszek won the all-around with a career-high score of 39.575 and also took first place on beam and floor with career-high marks of 9.925 and 9.95, respectively. Fittingly, three Bruin seniors ended their last home meet with event victories and career-high marks, with Frattone's 10, Aisha Gerber scoring a career-high 9.95 to win uneven bars, and Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs tying her career-high of 9.95 to tie for first on floor.
Frattone Joins 10.0 Club -- In her final home meet of her career, senior Tauny Frattone earned her first-ever perfect 10, sticking a Yurchenko half on, pike front off vault. Frattone became the 22nd member of UCLA's 10.0 club and the 13th on vault. Her previous career-high had been 9.95, scored on seven previous occasions, including three times this year. One of the nation's top vaulters, Frattone currently ranks No. 9 in the nation and is averaging 9.885 on the year and 9.860 in her career. Last season, she reeled off seven consecutive victories on vault and finished the year winning nine times in her last 11 meets. This year, she has four victories, which is tied for the team lead.
Seniors Go Out with a Bang -- UCLA seniors Kaelie Baer, Tauny Frattone, Aisha Gerber and Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs made their final home meet a memorable one on Senior Day Mar. 11, closing with some of their best performances of the year.
Baer kicked off the meet with one of her best vaults of her career, scoring 9.825 to help the team achieve a 49.5 vault total. Frattone scored a perfect 10 on vault and led off on floor with a 9.85 to help the Bruins score 49.5 on both events. Gerber set a new career-high on uneven bars, scoring 9.95 to take first place. Hopfner-Hibbs scored 9.9 on beam to tie for second and matched her career-high on floor with a 9.95 to tie for first place. She received one perfect 10 from the two floor judges.
Bruins Sweep Pac-12 Weekly Awards -- UCLA swept the Pac-12 Conference Weekly Awards last week, with sophomore Samantha Peszek earning Gymnast of the Week honors for the second time this year and senior Tauny Frattone claiming Special Performance of the Week acclaim for the fourth time in her career. Peszek won the all-around (39.575), balance beam (9.925) and floor exercise (9.95) with career-high numbers in the Bruins' win over No. 2 Oklahoma. Frattone scored her first career perfect 10 on the vault.
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