Gymnastics: Beats Utah Soundly, Rises to #1

Mattie Larson had a good meet for the Bruins - Chris McGrath

UCLA Gymnastics opens the Pac-12 season with a thumping of Utah.

The overall fifth ranked Utah Utes was picked to finish a close second to UCLA in the Pac-12. This was the first meet of the season for Utah, and the first test for the Bruins. If Sunday night was an indication of how the season may go, it might not be that close. Utah, a team without seniors, opened the night with three falls on uneven bars, forcing them to count a 9.225 and a 9.275 in the overall team score and wound up playing catch up the rest of the night.

UCLA, on the other hand, showed how strong they were from top to bottom and defeated Utah by a score of 197.425 to 195.300. (check out the score breakdown here. The lowest score we counted was a 9.675) The 197.425 is the highest score posted by a gymnastics team so far in this early season. UCLA opened on the vault, sticking all six vaults and posting a team score of 49.3, with Olivia Courtney scoring a 9.9 to lead the Bruins. Utah had troubles on uneven bars, posting a 48.075.

On the next rotation, UCLA moved to the bars, led by Vanessa Zamarripa's career tying score of 9.975 (and free pizookies for all in attendance!), with Lichelle Wong right behind her at 9.9. The Bruins were fortunate to not count Sophina DeJesus' 9.3 after a fall, but the team picked her up to drop the score. Utah rotated to the vault, where they posted a solid 49.25 team score, led by Tory Wilson with a 9.9.

UCLA in the third rotation moved to the beam, where the team went five for six, led by Vanessa Zamarripa and Danusia Francis, both scoring a 9.925. Sophina DeJesus rebounded from her fall on bars to score a 9.825, and Mattie Larson had a good score of 9.85. The only bobble on beam came from Olivia Courtney, who saved herself from a fall by hanging on to the beam, but the Bruins scored an excellent 49.3. Utah rotated to the floor, where the posted a team score of 49.1, led by Nansy Damianova and a score of 9.85.

Unfortunately for Utah, UCLA was ending on the floor, and dominated the final rotation, with five of the top scores of the night, and all the scores above Damianova's 9.85. Zamarripa and Courtney both scored a 9.95, with Alyssa Pritchett right behind them with a career high 9.925. Sadiqua Bynum made her 2013 debut with a very good 9.8 score. UCLA ended the meet with a 49.55 on the floor. Meanwhile, Utah scored a 48.875 on the beam, led by Damianova with a score of 9.85.

Vanessa Zamarripa won the all around with a score of 39.675, along with winning three events. The Bruins again came out and were showing their usual midseason form early, sticking their routines and not having to count a fall this week. UCLA has now risen to #1 in the rankings (Rankings are based on season average to date until mid February. By then, teams should have at least six meets so they can being tabulating the RQS, which is how teams are seeded for regionals.)

UCLA has a bye this week and travels to Arizona State on Friday, January 25th, who lost their last meet to Oklahoma 193.625 to 196.7. The meet begins at 6pm and will be streamed live on pac-12.com. UCLA should be able to handle Arizona State as long as they continue to stick their routines, but this will also be the first road meet for our freshmen - we'll have to see how they handle being away from the routine of classes. However, all of our freshmen have top level experience, so the travel shouldn't be a huge factor.

I also have to congratulate the crowd - 5,580 were in attendance on Saturday night. The iPad mini that was given out to the students might have been a factor, but it was also advertised as a white-out.

The Pac-12 should announce later today the gymnasts of the week. Vanessa Zamarripa won last week - can she make it two for two?

Go Gymnastics Bruins! The March to NCAAs at Pauley continues.

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