UCLA Gymnastics Falls in Norman to #2 Oklahoma

Danusia Francis and her ridiculous flexibility

The Bruins traveled to Norman for the first time and post their highest score on the road but it wasn't enough to take down the Sooners.

Vanessa Zamarripa was tumbling down the balance beam, an apparatus only 4 inches wide. As she completed her final element on the pass, she wasn't perfectly aligned with the beam, forcing her hip out slightly and her arm to waver.

This small wobble knocked her score down at least 0.05 points, and knocked the #1 gymnast in the country in the all-around out of the top spot in the all-around at the meet this week. It was symbolic of the UCLA trip to Norman this week, as the UCLA Bruins fell to the #2 Oklahoma Sooners, 198.375 to 197.200. The Bruins, while posting their top road score of the season, and overall did well, had small bobbles and routines that couldn't keep up with the 9.9 machine that were the Oklahoma Sooners this week.

For full results, click here.

For video of the entire meet, click here. I'm not sure how long it'll stay online! The commentators were John Roethlisberger, former US Olympian and Kelly Garrison, former Oklahoma gymnast. As homeristic as that may sound, they gave plenty of kudos to the Bruins and Coach Val.

The Bruins began the meet on uneven bars. The Bruins were solid all around on the event, as the gymnasts were sticking their landings, except for Mattie Larson, who landed on her knees and had to take a 0.5 deduction in her score. Danusia Francis scored a career best 9.8, Olivia Courtney contributed a 9.825, Sophina DeJesus returned with a 9.850, and Vanessa Zamarripa won the event with a 9.95. I felt it could have been scored a 10, as she had absolutely perfect positions on her handstands and stuck her landing, but maybe the judges saw her slightly past vertical on one handstand. I wasn't the only person cheering for a 10, but I suspect she would have received one if the meet was at Pauley. Meanwhile the Sooners started on the vault, and they asserted their dominance from the beginning, as the lowest score they had was a 9.80, and that was thrown out. Brie Olson, Maile'ana Kanewa, and Keeley Kmieciak all scored 9.925. The Bruins gave up tenths their 9.8s, and after the first rotation, the Bruins were down 49.525 to 49.250.

The Bruins then moved to vault. The Bruins were led by Zamarripa and Courtney, who both scored 9.9 on their vault. Zamarripa would have had a 10 if she stuck the landing - was gorgeous in the air, and had ridiculous distance on her landing. Kaelie Baer tied her career high with a 9.875, and Lichelle Wong tied her season high with a 9.825, for a total team score of 49.30. Little hops on the landing kept costing the Bruins small tenths in their score. But the Sooners were on their massive scoring binge again, as they posted a 49.575 on the uneven bars. All of the scores that counted were 9.9 and above, with Kmieciak and Brie Olson both posting a 9.925. After two rotations, the Bruins were down 99.10 to 98.55. A huge margin to make up in general, and the Sooners were rotating to their best event, the balance beam.

In the third rotation, the Bruins moved to the floor, which was their chance to try to post some monster scores to keep up with Oklahoma and hoping and the Sooners would bobble a bit on the beam. Zamarripa led the Bruins again, with a beautiful floor routine and a score of 9.95, and Alyssa Prichett contributed a 9.90. DeJesus returned to the floor with a great 9.875 score, and Danusia Francis fixed her problem of tumbling out of bounds on her final tumbling pass and contributed a 9.80 (which I bet would have been higher if she didn't have those additional steps at the end!) The team posted a 49.350, dropping Sadiqua Bynum's 9.150 after she came up short on a tumbling pass and fell to her knees. But at the risk of sounding like a broken record, Oklahoma was absolutely dominant on the beam with a team score of 49.60, with their lowest counting score of 9.875 and the other four gymnasts contributing 9.9 and above. Their beam set, if you get a chance to watch it, is absolutely dominant. They are crisp on the beam, absolutely rock solid, and did not waver during their routines. Just fantastic. The Bruins were down, 148.70 to 147.90.

At this point in the fourth rotation, with the Bruins on beam, the objective was just to do the best possible routines, as there was almost no way the Sooners would fall in three separate routines to give the Bruins a chance. The Bruins did respond though, posting a 49.30 on the beam, with Mattie Larson redeeming herself and scoring a 9.90 to lead the Bruins. Wong, who is showing a lot of confidence after her great showing the all-around last week, scored a career high 9.875 and DeJesus tied a career high with a 9.875. Oklahoma finished on the floor, and delighted their home crowd with scores in the 9.90 and above, as Haley Scaman posted a 9.975 (seriously...) and Spears and Olson both contributed 9.950s. Oklahoma posted a school high score of 198.375, beating the Bruins by over 1 point.

Vanessa Zamarripa came in second in the all-around with a score of 39.650, losing to Brie Olson by 0.05 points.

It was a good meet for the Bruins, but after this meet, you can see what the top teams in the country are doing (other than ... um.. "typical" music for their floor routines. Thank you Coach Val for being different and innovative.) NCAA Championships are in Pauley this year, and if the Bruins want a chance to win #7 in their home gym, they will have to step it up to compete with the Okalahomas, Floridas, Alabamas and Michigans of the competition. When the rankings come out on Monday, they will probably stay at #5 overall with a record of 7-2.

The Bruins are on the road again next week, taking on #4 Alabama, the current two-time defending NCAA Champion in Tuscaloosa. Alabama is another solid all-around team, but if the Bruins compete at this level again next week, the meet will be a lot closer.

Go Bruins.n

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