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UCLA Gymnastics Takes Second in Quad Meet

Three teams came in. Two left with a loss. Michigan conquered them all.

After three straight road meets, the UCLA Gymnastics team was happy to be home and play host to Michigan, Cal and Iowa State. UCLA went 24 for 24, with no major mistakes in their routines, and scored 197.075. Michigan won the meet with a combined score of 197.550, Cal came in third at 194.925, and Iowa State fourth at 194.650. From the start, it was a battle between the #3 and #6 teams in the nation.

For complete results, click here. I'll focus mostly on Michigan in the recap, because we may see them again in the postseason.

Before the meet started, UCLA had to face it's first challenge as Mattie Larson was scratched after injuring her knee during warmups. UCLA started the meet on vault, and started huge. Vanessa Zamarripa and Olivia Courtney both scored a 9.950, earning free pizookie for everyone in attendance! Kaelie Baer contributed a 9.90 and the Bruins posted a team score of 49.375, a high for the season. Meanwhile Michigan was on the beam, who fortunately didn't have to count a fall, but only scored 48.925 as a team, led by three gymnasts scoring 9.800. After one rotation, UCLA was up by 0.475.

UCLA then moved onto the bars, which led to the first lineup shuffle for the Bruins, as Larson typically goes second or third. Monique De La Torre returned from injury and took Larson's place and received a 10 from one of the judges for her score, for a total average score of 9.925 to lead the Bruins. Danusia Francis scored a career high 9.875, a score matched by Courtney and Lichelle Wong, leading to a season best 49.375. Meanwhile Michigan was on the floor, scoring out of their minds, led by Joanna Sampson's 9.950 and three other gymnasts scoring 9.90. After two rotations, UCLA led but barely, 98.750-98.425.

The Bruins moved to the balance beam in the third rotation, and while it was consistent, it wasn't a flashy, high scoring beam set for the Bruins. Francis led the Bruins on the beam, scoring a 9.850, and Courtney contributed a 9.825. As a team, UCLA scored 49.025, which was the highest team beam score at the meet. Michigan however found a second gear on vault, speeding down the runway, hitting the horse with some force, and coming away with an insane team score of 49.550. All five Wolverine scores that counted were 9.90 and above, with Sampson and Natalie Beilstein both scoring 9.925. Michigan took the lead after the third rotation, 147.975-147.775.

Moving into the fourth rotation, UCLA had the potential to make up the two tenths, as they were on the floor, with the top gymnast in the country on the floor in Zamarripa. Alyssa Pritchett scored a spectacular 9.950, which I hope she can keep up throughout the season, and Zamarripa and Dana McDonald scored a 9.875, contributing to a team score of 49.300. Michigan however put the meet away on the uneven bars, scoring an insane 49.575 as a team, led by Sachi Sugiyama's 9.950 and three other scores in the 9.90 range.

UCLA is now 9-4 but unfortunately has dropped to 8th in the country and behind Utah in the standings, with a RQS of 196.905. While it's not a horrible average score, Oklahoma is now #1 with a RQS of 197.570 and the top five teams all averaging 197 and above. If only this team was 100% healthy... I really think with Peszek healthy this team would be ranked higher.

The Bruins close the season next Sunday against Arkansas, who is currently ranked 15th. The meet is at 2pm and UCLA will be recognizing several seniors on their team.