On Senior Day, UCLA Gymnastics closed the regular season with a beautiful performance, tying a season high with 197.425 and defeating the Arkansas Razorbacks by 0.825 points. Vanessa Zamarripa won the all-around again, tying her season high with a 39.675 and a perfect 10 on the vault. UCLA swept all four events as a team and individually, and they should be confident heading into the Pac-12 Championship next week in Corvallis.
UCLA also honored their seniors, thanking Zamarripa, Kaelie Baer, Monique de la Torre, Lichelle Wong and and Alyssa Pritchett. You can view the tribute video that aired after the meet here. The Senior Day tribute was touching and I was crying (I'm a sap, but I love this stuff) as the parents of each gymnast came down to be honored with their daughters. It was beautiful. (Ok I will admit 40%...ish... was me sad that we are coming to the end of Zamarripa's career. She is such a beautiful gymnast. I don't know if she'll make a run back at the elite level, but I wish her and all the seniors the best.)
For full meet scores, click here.
As customary for home meets, UCLA started with the Olympic rotation on vault, and the Bruins made sure Arkansas knew they were visitors in Pauley with a season high team score of 49.50. In addition to Zamarripa's 10, Olivia Courtney contributed a 9.950 and Kaelie Baer scored 9.90. All the vaults were beautiful, and UCLA wanted every landing, working hard to stick the landings. Arkansas started the meet on bars, led Shelby Salmon's and Erin Freier's 9.80. After one rotation, the Bruins were up 49.50 to 49.10.
UCLA moved to uneven bars next, and Monique de la Torre took Mattie Larson's place in the rotation, scoring a 9.775. The Bruins were once again led by Zamarripa, who was determined to make her final regular season meet at Pauley her best yet, and was practically perfect again (maybe slightly past vertical at one point on a handstand) with a 9.950. Courtney contributed a 9.825, for a team score of 49.125. Arkansas moved to the vault, and cut into the UCLA lead a bit with a 49.225. Katherine Grable led the Razorbacks with a 9.90, and the Bruins led at the halfway point 98.625-98.325.
In the third rotation, the Bruins moved to the beam. The freshmen stole the show for the Bruins on the beam. Sophina DeJesus tied her career high with a 9.875 but Danusia Francis was spectacular, with a 9.950. If you watched the meet, Francis's beam routine was absolutely beautiful and perfect, and DeJesus even moonwalked on the beam, drawing cheers. Overall, the team scored 49.250. Arkansas was on the floor, led by Grable and Amy Borsellino, both scoring a 9.90. After three rotations, the Bruins led 147.875-147.600.
In the final rotation, UCLA seized control of the meet, while Arkansas had a few bobbles on the beam. Borsellino for Arkansas fell, but fortunately that score was dropped. Grable led the way for the Razorbacks again, scoring a 9.850 but the scores would not be enough to take on UCLA, who was closing on the floor. It started in the worst possible way for the Bruins, when Dana McDonald fell on her first tumbling pass (she was short on the second to last element, and didn't have enough power to get her back in the air to finish the pass), but the rest of her team picked her up, scoring a phenomenal 49.550 as a team, tying their season high. Alyssa Pritchett followed up her 9.95 from last week with another 9.950. Courtney managed to control the power in her tumbling passes, which had been plaguing her all season, forcing her to tumble out of bounds, and scored a 9.950. Sydney Sawa, competing for the first time since January, stepped up in a huge way with a 9.850, and DeJesus and Zamarripa both scored a 9.90. Zamarripa is also having the same problem Courtney was having - too much power on a tumbling pass is causing her to take an extra step, but it has improved from last week.
The Bruins end the season at 10-4, and are now looking ahead to the Pac-12 Championships in Corvallis.