Bumping up the second part of brugym's preview of gymnastics. -- BN Eds.
Here are the rest of my thoughts about gymnastics this season.
The impactful newbies:
UCLA brought in another good recruiting class, led by very late add Jennifer Pinches. Pinches competed for Great Britain in the 2012 Olympic Games (keeping up that GB pipeline… although admittedly it’s been all of two gymnasts so far but UCLA has always recruited well internationally) and is a great add for the Bruins. She will definitely add some depth on bars, although I bet her better events will be floor (Watch her on floor http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iXyJIYSES0) and vault, with definite all around potential, although probably not as a freshman. She did place 21st in the all-around qualifying at the 2012 Olympics, but did not make it to the all-around… because she was the third person from her team to qualify, and there is a 2 per country rule. Unfortunate, as that is the same rule that hit our next newbie…
Jordyn Wieber. Yes, that Jordyn, 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist. 2011 All-Around Champion. Powerful gymnast… and unfortunately not eligible to compete for UCLA as she has endorsement deals, which makes her ineligible (she's not even allowed to practice with the team.) But Coach Val said she could still come out to UCLA, and she will be here this year (at least) as she takes a mini-break from competitive gymnastics and serves as one of UCLA’s team managers, so you will see her cheering, setting up mats and adjusting equipment. She might not be here next year, if she decides to return to formal training.
Joining UCLA is Angi Cipra, a former Junior Olympian and level 10 gymnast. Watch her on the floor here: http://youtu.be/a8e9cU_c8II Coach Val can definitely coach her up on the floor and she will be a good four year gymnast at UCLA.
Mikaela Gerber is the younger sister of former UCLA Gymnast Aisha Gerber and is a former elite gymnast, competing for Canada. At the Pan-American games in 2011, she placed second on the floor and also won a silver medal with the team. She didn’t make the Olympic team in 2012 after placing fifth in qualifying, which is unfortunate. I think she’ll be a solid four year gymnast for UCLA. (Watch her on the floor here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTg3wyXaGZ4)
Hallie Mossett is a former senior elite gymnast, and has been on the Pan-Am team and Sr. National team for the USA. In 2011 she placed 10th at the US CoverGirl Meet and finished eighth on the floor at the Visa Championships (essentially the US Championships.) She has been injured and hasn’t competed since 2011. She should be a good floor worker, and hopefully a good vaulter.
Jessy MacArthur and Alex Waller are walk-ons. The name Waller should strike a chord with Bruins – she is the daughter of Associate Head Coach Chris Waller (and former Bruin and former Olympian…) and Jessy is also from Waller’s gym. How much they will actually compete is unknown, but they have both competed and placed decently in their events at their respective levels.
Since not all schools offer gymnastics, it's not that easy to load up your schedule with "cupcakes" like basketball. In fact, UCLA for their first meet is welcoming in the defending NCAA Champion Florida Gators on January 11th. Please be there to support your Bruins. Perennial power Michigan hosts the Bruins in March, and Utah will join the meet for a quad meet, and that should be a great meet. Utah is always extremely competitive and hopefully that meet will be picked up on tv or streamed online.
Usually I can count on UCLA to make it to the Super Six. I think it'll be harder this year, as we lost some big, consistent scores and until we see how the youngsters settle in, it'll be hard to peg exactly where this Bruin team will be this year. My expectation for UCLA is always the Super Six - contending for a national title, as we have come to expect for any team associated with UCLA.
Qualifying for regionals is based on your scoring throughout the season, so the goal is to have a RQS in the 196s, and as long as UCLA peaks again in late March and April, it should be another fantastic, competitive season.
(Now, if you see Kyla Ross, 2013 world silver medalist in the all-around, 2012 Gold Medalist on the USA team, talk up UCLA. She's apparently picking between UCLA and Stanford to enroll in two years, if she doesn't make another push for 2016 Olympics. She's a beautiful, fantastic gymnast that'd be great in college, she's local, and she was spotted at the UCLA preseason party on Sunday.)
Happy gymnastics season!