The UCLA Gymnastics team is currently preparing for NCAA Regionals, which is this Saturday, April 7th. UCLA will be competing in the Fayetteville regional with Missouri, Boise State, New Hampshire, Arkansas and Maryland.
UCLA is currently ranked third in the country, behind Florida and Oklahoma. In their regional, Arkansas is ranked 10th, Boise State is 15th, and Missouri is 19th.
At the competition, the top 2 teams from the competition will advance to the NCAA Championships April 20-22nd in Duluth, GA. UCLA's meet will begin on the uneven bars before moving to the beam, a bye, then floor exercise, then vault, and then finishing the day with a bye. UCLA ends the meet on their two strongest events, but they will need to set the bar high when they finish on vault as they will have to watch the other schools finish their final rotation.
Last year, UCLA won their regional and placed second at the NCAA Championships. There is an advantage to winning, as it affects your seeding in the semi-finals, which in turn will affect your seeding in the finals. Seedings determine where you start and finish your rotations in competition. In general, most schools want to avoid Balance Beam as their final event, and finish on the floor or vault, as they tend to be scored higher (and have a higher final impact.) At Regionals, you need to be in the top 2 to move on to Nationals on the 20th, so while UCLA can probably afford a few off routines, the goal is to hit every routine.
In a brief look at our competition, we can look at the results of a meet between Arkansas and Missouri, where Missouri upset Arkansas 196.1 to 195.45. If you want to extrapolate from that head to head however, UCLA's average score this season is in the high 196 range, so hopefully UCLA can continue that trend at Regionals. Arkansas' gymnast to watch is Senior Jaime Pisani, who is the SEC Gymnast of the year and ranked number 1 in the nation on the floor.
Missouri recently finished second at the Big 12 Championships, behind Oklahoma, with a very good score of 196.025. Senior Mary Burke was named Big-12 Gymnast of the Year and Freshman Rachel Updike was named Newcomer of the year. Their high score this year is 196.375.
Boise State is heading to Regionals for the fifth straight year, barely missing out on the top two last year by 0.025 points. Boise State averages a 195.616, with a team high of 197 this season. Boise State's gymnast to watch is Brittany Potvin-Green who had a high score of 39.575 this season and senior Amy Glass who has made her mark in the Boise State record books.
New Hampshire's qualifying score is a 195.12 and their average is a 194.358. Maryland is heading to regionals for the fourth consecutive year and recently placed third in the East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) Championships with a score of 195.950. The Terps will be a force to be reckoned with on the floor, if they can pull off another score of 49.450, with junior Ally Krikorian leading the way with a 9.925 and an event win on the floor.
And if you needed another reason to watch, during a recent "Ask the Bruin Gymnastics Team" post on the UCLA Website, someone wrote in and asked Tauny Frattone what music she used for her floor routine. It's Led Zeppelin. Yes, Led Zeppelin in gymnastics. Check out her routine:
In additional UCLA news, former UCLA gymnast Tasha Schwikert is a member of the 2012 USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame Class. Schwikert is already a member as a member of the 2003 World Championship US Gymnastics team, but she is now being honored as an individual. She joins former Bruin and teammate Kristen Maloney (teammates at UCLA in 2005 and both members of the 2000 US Olympic Team) Congratulations Tasha!