The UCLA Gymnastics team is happy to be home after a strenuous three meet road swing, losing all three meets against top 15 teams and dropping their overall record to 7-3. The Bruins remain ranked at #6 in the country with a RQS of 196.765, and about 0.15 behind #5 Alabama.
This week the Bruins invite #3 Michigan (average score of 197.080, record 12-1), Cal (8-6) and Iowa State (4-6.) This week is also the Heart of a Champion meet. For a $10 donation you will receive entry into the meet and a Camp del Corazon towel. Camp del Corazon raises funds for kids to attend summer camp.
The meet will be streamed on pac-12.com.
Honoring the 2003 NCAA Champions
In 2003, the UCLA gymnastics team was practically unstoppable, even without Kristen Maloney who sat out the season due to a lingering leg injury (probably started here with this fall at Sydney, needed surgery in 2001 on this leg which already had a rod inserted previously) but the Bruins won the title by 0.55 over Alabama, led by their "Fab Five" who finished as three time NCAA Champions, and their superb junior class led by former Olympians Jamie Dantzcher, Yvonne Tousek and Alyssa Beckerman and former National Team member Jeannette Antolin. (Man, those teams were loaded. No wonder they won in 2001, 2003 and 2004. 2004 is probably the best team of all of them. Watch a montage to the 2001/2003/2004 teams. And they're using the old vault in some of those meets. I'm cringing.) This team will be honored on Sunday. Kristen Maloney will be returning as an assistant coach at Iowa State.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Justin Hickman and Bruce Davis will be at the meet also. Hopefully not in gold spandex like when they were undergrads.
Vanessa Zamarripa, Record Holder.
Zamarripa was honored by the Pac-12 for the "Special Performance of the Week" for the eighth time in her career, the most times any one gymnast has been honored with this award in her career. Special mention also goes out to Olivia Courtney, who was recognized for her performance this week as a finalist for Gymnast of the Week, and to Sophina DeJesus for Freshman of the Week.
Zamarripa has also been selected as one of six finalists for the AAI award, which honors the top senior gymnast. Previous UCLA winners of this award include Donna Kemp in 1984, Mohini Bhardwaj in 2001 and Jamie Dantzcher in 2004. The award is voted on by the NCAA women's gymnastics coaches. Zamarripa, even after an un-Zamarripa like performance last week, is still the #1 ranked all-around gymnast in the country, ranking #2 on vault, 5 on uneven bars, and tied for second on the floor.
Michigan, Cal and Iowa State Preview
Michigan has been ranked in the top three all season, and features the #2 gymnast in the country, Joanna Sampson. She is ranked #1 in the country on the floor, just ahead of Zamarripa. Katie Zurales is currently the #11 gymnast in the country. Their average score is 197.080 as a team, and their best event is the floor, with an average score of 49.40. That's a lot of 9.9's and above...
Cal is ranked outside of the top 25 at 32. They are ranked 19th on vault and 25th on the floor. Their gymnasts to watch are Alicia Asturias, who consistently competes all-around, and Mariesah Pierce. Coach Val considers Cal an "up and coming" team but their record screams more of inconsistent. Most of their team members are from the Bay Area.
Iowa State is ranked 36th with a high score this season of 195.550. Their top gymnast is junior Henrietta Green, whose high score in the all-around is 39.00. She is from San Bernardino, so this will be a homecoming for her.
The Bruins should be able to pick up victories over Cal and Iowa State - the true challenge will be Michigan. Being at home will help ease the Bruins after three weeks on the road, and if the Bruins perform up to their usual standard, just like with Alabama, it should be close.
This week Sam Peszek interviews Coach Val and Mattie Larson. With Miss Val, they discuss the road trip, the last minute lineup changes in last week's meet that probably threw the team off, and the results of the Facebook vote that chose the fan's favorite leotard ever - in case you're wondering, it's the "bustier version" worn by the team in 2010. Mattie Larson discussed how Maurice Jones-Drew is helping her to change her thinking (and leading to improved beam scores) and how we may see her on more events as the season goes on.
Also, courtesy of gymnastike, the "Sights and Sounds"of the UCLA at Alabama meet.
One last reminder: UCLA vs Michigan, Cal and Iowa State, Sunday, 2pm, Pauley Pavilion.