clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

UCLA Gymnastics - NCAA Semifinal Preview and Thread

New, comments

Today, beginning at 11 am UCLA time, the UCLA gymnastics team will compete in Fort Worth, Texas for a chance to advance to the NCAA finals tomorrow.

Will Samantha Peszek be bringing home another trophy?
Will Samantha Peszek be bringing home another trophy?
Kelly Lambert-USA TODAY Sports

The UCLA Gymnastics team earned a spot in the NCAA semifinals by receiving the top score in the Columbus regional. This is the 31st time the women's team has advanced to the NCAA championships. UCLA will compete against five other teams in the semis and the top three scoring teams will compete in the Super Six round for the championship on Saturday. UCLA athletes will also be vying for a chance to compete in the individual competition on Sunday. The All-Around champion will also be determined today. There have been six schools that have been Women's Gymnastic Champions -  Georgia (10), Utah (9), UCLA (6), Alabama (6), Oklahoma (2), Florida (1) - and they will all be competing this year. Last year, Oklahoma and Florida were co-champions.

How it Works

There will be two semifinals today. The first pits #7 UCLA against #2 Florida, #3 Utah, #6 Michigan, #10 Georgia, and #11 Stanford.  The top three finishers will compete against the top three finishers from the other semi-final, #1 Oklahoma, #4 LSU, #5 Alabama, #8 Auburn, #9 Nebraska, and #12 Oregon State. You can see the complete bracket at the NCAA's site.

Individuals will also be competing today. The All-Around champion will be determined based on today's scores and the top four individuals in each event, from both semis, will advance to the individual championships on Sunday.

In the regionals, UCLA earned the most points (197.500) of any team in its bracket and has a good chance of moving on. The maximum score a team can earn in a meet is 200. Five scores (out of six) from the 4 events are totaled. The highest score a routine can get is a 10, so the math is easy.

UCLA's rotation will be: floor, vault, bye, bars, beam, bye.

The complete rotation:

Team

Rotation 1

Rotation 2

Rotation 3

Rotation 4

Rotation 5

Rotation 6

UCLA

Floor

Vault

Bye

Bars

Beam

Bye

Georgia

Vault

Bye

Bars

Beam

Bye

Floor

Stanford

Bye

Bars

Beam

Bye

Floor

Vault

Michigan

Bars

Beam

Bye

Floor

Vault

Bye

Utah

Beam

Bye

Floor

Vault

Bye

Bars

Florida

Bye

Floor

Vault

Bye

Bars

Beam


The Bruins

UCLA will be competing for their 7th NCAA championship this weekend. The team earned its way into the regionals with some outstanding performances:

Samantha Peszek won the all-around with a season-high score of 39.675 and also placed first on beam (9.95) and floor (9.925). Christine Peng-Peng Lee won every event in which she competed, tying for first on vault with a career-high 9.925, winning bars with a 9.925 and tying for first on beam with Peszek and Danusia Francis with a 9.95.

Samantha Peszek will also be competing to win an All-Around trophy and is a finalist for the AAI award, awarded to the top senior gymnast in the country. The team is filled with athletes that have competed at the highest level. Peszek (USA) and Jennifer Pinches (GB) have been olympians. Danusia Francis (GB) was an Olympic alternate and a World Champions competitor. Christine Peng-Peng Lee (Canada) was an honorary Olympian and a World Championships, Mikaela Gerber (Canada) was a  World Championships competitor, and two former U.S. national team members in Sophina DeJesus and Hallie Mossett and a USA Championships competitor in Napualani Hall. Five Bruins have earned All-American status - Peszek (vault & 2nd team beam), Francis (beam), Lee (bars & beam), Jordan Williams (2nd vault), and Sadiqua Bynum (2nd floor).

UCLA's strength has been on the beam. They have scored over 49.4 six straight times and rank second in the country on the beam. Peszek ranks as the #1 gymnast on the beam, with Francis (#3 tie) and Lee (#7) close behind. In the regionals Samantha Peszek, Danusia Francis, and Christine Peng-Peng Lee all scored 9.95's. While being strong on the beam gives the Bruins a great advantage, it is also the apparatus that can be the most dicey. But the Bruins have been very consistent this year, as has Danusia's pretty awesome dismount on the beam:

Watch more videos on Gymnastike

UCLA is also strong on the floor. Three athletes (Peszek, Francis, and Angi Cipra) scored a 9.9+ in the regionals. It seems to be an all team participation event for the Bruins:

Besides their 2nd place national ranking on the beam, the Bruins also ended the regular season ranked #7 on the vault, #11 on the bars, and #8 on floor. For more notes on the Bruins, check out the official website.

The Competition

This year's competing teams are all solid. From The Balance Beam Situation:

There are no soft teams and no obvious results here. It's going to be remarkable. At least it better be. The competitors are Florida, Utah, Michigan, UCLA, Georgia, and Stanford, and pretty much any finishing order seems plausible. The only true surprise here would be if Florida fails to make Super Six...All six of these schools are 197 teams, so we can't expect the 197 standard on which we usually judge the better teams to be good enough. It won't be good enough. Last year, Utah set the record for the highest ever semifinal score that didn't advance to Super Six with a 197.025. I'll be disappointed if that record isn't broken this year.

As you can see, Florida unfortunately is considered the favorite. The Gators are back-to-back champions and enter the event with two former all-around champions, Kytra Hunter (2012) and Bridget Stone (2013). Florida ranks high in all events and is especially impressive on the vault. Nationally, they rank #1 on bars, tied for #2 on vault, #3 on beam, and tied for #2 on floor. Stone has completed the "gymslam", earning a 10 on each of the events during her career.

The other sure bet was supposed to be Utah and was the only team other than Florida to earn a 198+ three times this season. Like Florida, Utah excels on the vault (#1) and on the bars (T #1) . While UCLA is strong on the beam, this is the Utes weakness (48.625 score in the regionals). It will also be there first event today, so if they can get through the beam without a problem, it should be all downhill for them from there. UCLA's only losses this year came against Utah. But if the Utah that was in the regionals shows up (which I doubt), they won't be a problem. Their regional was unlike them, they had a fall and made too many small errors (bobbles and not nailing their moves), but this powerhouse of women's gymnastics has had two weeks to get the kinks out, so they should be good to go. Georgia Dubritz is their leader and won all four events for the Utes in the regionals. From brugym:

Utah is currently led by spectacular senior Georgia Dabritz, who is borderline perfect, and Corrie Lothrop. Utah probably will not change their lineup much after the Regionals, but Wilson's consistent 9.9's are a big loss for any team, even one as deep as Utah.

Michigan is the team most likely to compete with UCLA for the last spot in the Super-Six (assuming Utah makes it). UCLA beat Michigan in the regionals, and without major errors should be able to beat them again. Michigan is considered very good and consistent, with a close range of scores this year (196.6-197.825), but doesn't put up the high scores like the other teams ahead of them. Michigan's best event in the regionals was clearly floor, where three gymnasts scored 9.9's and their worst was the beam, where two athletes scored in the 9.7's. Their leaders are senior Sachi Sugiyama and sophmore Nicole Artz.

Georgia and Stanford will also be in this semi, but are not considered as likely to advance as the other teams. Georgia will have to do better than the 197.025 it earned in the regionals to advance. They have, however, beaten Utah twice this year (the regionals being one of those times). Stanford scored only a 197 to advance to the semis however they had a lower than normal score for them on their best event, the bars. If they perform as well on bars as they usually do, they could move into the top three. Again, brugym's take on Stanford:

But so, so inconsistent.  Bars can be their best event and at times, their worst event. I feel like their floor routines are very... generic with not difficult tumbling (but enough to get the 10 base score.) ...

Stanford puzzles me - they have for years. Looking at their roster, you'd think they'd be much ebtter than their scores, but it never pans out. ..The McNairs are great gymnasts, I love Taylor Rice, and if Elizabeth Price can go on bars and floor, they're very formidable...They also have Ivana Hong, a former world team member (2007 Team gold Medalist at worlds) and 2008 Olympic team alternate, and when she's able to produce she's spot on (on beam, my god, it's beautiful.)

The Regionals

Here are the scores from the regionals for each team:

Team

Vault

Bars

Beam

Floor

Total

UCLA

49.300

49.275

49.550

49.375

197.500

Florida

49.625

49.125

49.325

49.400

197.475

Georgia

49.400

49.325

48.950

49.350

197.025

Michigan

49.175

49.150

49.250

49.425

197.000

Stanford

49.375

49.025

49.375

49.225

197.000

Utah

49.500

49.075

48.625

49.375

196.575

Logistics

April 17-19 at Fort Worth, Texas

Looking to the Future

One meet at a time?  Since you and I are not on the floor today, I think it should be okay to take a look at how bright the future is going to be.  Two UCLA commits:

You can read more about the new commits at our own brugym's UCLA Gymnastics Banter.

...

Let's get our hands up for an 8-clap to cheer our Bruins on:

Have a great day, and as always ...

Go Bruins!