Third-Ranked UCLA To Defend Pac-10 Gymnastics Title On Saturday

March 25, 2010

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This Week -- Third-ranked UCLA (13-3) will travel to Tucson, AZ for the 2010 Pac-10 Conference Championships. The Bruins have won a Pac-10 record 14 team titles in 23 years. The Championships will take place at the McKale Center on Saturday, Mar. 27 at 4 pm.

Coverage -- The meet will be televised on a delayed basis by Fox Sports Net. Providing the call will be Jim Watson and 1996 Olympic gold medalist Amanda Borden. Live stats will be available at pac-10.org.

Rotation Order -- The Bruins will begin the meet on balance beam and will finish up on uneven bars. The rotation order for the championships was determined by blind draw a year prior to the meet.

Pac-10 Championship History -- With 14 Pac-10 titles (1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009), UCLA has won the most conference championships. Stanford (1998, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2008) and Oregon State (1991, 1992, 1994, 1996) are the only other teams to win Pac-10 titles. UCLA and Stanford have dominated in the last 13 years, however, with the Bruins winning eight and Stanford five in that span.

UCLA has dominated in the individual championships as well, with a conference-best 69 individual championships. The Bruins have been especially dominant in the all-around, winning 16 titles, including 10 in the last 13 years (includes ties). UCLA gymnasts have won 17 titles on bars, 14 on floor, and 11 on vault and beam.

Anna Li won a share of the uneven bars title in 2009 and a share of the balance beam title in 2007. She is one of five returning Pac-10 champions, joining fellow 2009 bars co-champions Jen Kesler and Leslie Mak of Oregon State; all-around, bars and beam champion Carly Janiga of Stanford; and vault and floor champion Mandi Rodriguez of Oregon State.

Last Year At Pac-10s -- Needing to hit a 49.15 on beam in the final rotation to surpass Stanford, UCLA scored a season-high 49.325 to claim its 14th Pac-10 title. The Bruins recorded a team total of 196.725, outscoring second-place Oregon State (196.550) and third-place Stanford (196.525). The Bruins scored 49.0 or better on all four events and saved the best for last, conquering some beam demons in a big way with a 6-for-6 performance to take the victory. Vanessa Zamarripa was the team's top all-around finisher, placing third with a 39.4. Anna Li captured a share of the uneven bars title with a season-high-tying 9.9 for her second career Pac-10 event title.

Conference Awards To Be Handed Out - Conference awards for Gymnast of the Year, Freshman/Newcomer of the Year and Coach of the Year will be handed out at the conclusion of the Pac-10 Championship meet. UCLA has won 11 of the last 13 Gymnast of the Year awards and a total of 16 in 23 years. Head coach Valorie Kondos Field has won Pac-10 Coach of the Year three times (1995, 2000, 2003). UCLA has produced six conference Freshmen/Newcomers of the Year since the inception of the award in 2000 - Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs in 2009, Brittani McCullough in 2008, Ariana Berlin in 2006 (shared with Jami Lanz of Oregon State), Tasha Schwikert in 2005, Kate Richardson in 2003 and Doni Thompson in 2000.

In The Rankings -- UCLA remained at third overall with a RQS of 196.900 and is still the top-ranked team in the nation on bars (49.3) and floor (49.37). The Bruins are also ranked second on vault (49.385) and fourth on beam (49.135).

Individually, the Bruins have two gymnasts in the Top 10 in the all-around rankings - No. 3 Vanessa Zamarripa (39.555) and No. 10 Anna Li (39.415). Zamarripa ranks in the Top 10 on all four events - No. 2 on vault (9.935) and bars (9.925), No. 3 on beam (9.920) and No. 10 on floor (9.910). Li ranks No. 1 on uneven bars for the fifth-straight week and the ninth week overall this season (in 11 weeks) with a 9.940 RQS. She is also ranked 17th on beam (9.865). Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs ranks in the Top 10 on two events - No. 5 on floor (9.920) and No. 9 on beam (9.885). Tauny Frattone ranks 13th on vault (9.900), Monique De La Torre is 20th on bars (9.870), and Brittani McCullough ranks 22nd on floor (9.890).

Last Time Out -- UCLA won its regular season finale with a score of 196.525, defeating second-place Michigan State (195.95) and third-place Cal State Fullerton (193.875) despite competing without senior star Anna Li, who was out for her senior day meet with an ankle injury. Vanessa Zamarripa earned a career-high 39.7 to win the all-around and also captured event wins on bars and beam. The Bruins built up a good lead after two events but faltered on beam, allowing Michigan State to pull to within 0.25, but rallied with a strong floor set (49.375) to secure the win.

Setting The Bar -- The Bruins have been ranked No. 1 in the nation on the uneven bars since Jan. 25, no doubt due to their extreme consistency on the event. In 11 meets, the Bruins have hit 63 of 66 bar routines, with 45 routines scoring 9.8 or higher and 18 routines scoring 9.9 or higher. Two Bruins are averaging 9.9 or higher - Vanessa Zamarripa (9.925) and Anna Li (9.919), while two others average 9.8 or higher - Monique De La Torre (9.866) and Brittani McCullough (9.807). UCLA averages 49.259 on the event, with a high of 49.55 set vs. Stanford. The 49.55 was the ninth-best bars score in UCLA history.

New Lineup Has Bruins Beaming -- After some struggles on the balance beam, the Bruin coaching staff implemented a new strategy on Feb. 21, putting up two of the team's most consistent beam workers as the leadoff gymnasts to stabilize the lineup. The strategy has worked, as the Bruins have scored put up marks of 49.65 at Georgia (third-highest beam score in UCLA history), 49.375 at Cal State Fullerton and 49.225 vs. Oregon State. At Georgia, Anna Li, who had previously anchored beam earlier in the year, led off with a season-high 9.925, followed by a perfect 10 from Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs. Niki Tom put up a 9.825, followed by a 9.85 from Aisha Gerber, a 9.925 from Vanessa Zamarripa and a career-high 9.95 from Mizuki Sato.

High-Scoring Zamarripa -- Sophomore Vanessa Zamarripa has been racking up big scores this season for the Bruins. Twenty-six of her 37 routines have scored 9.9 or higher, including a perfect 10 on vault and a 9.975 on beam, and she has scored 39.675 or better in the all-around in four of her last five all-around attempts. Her last competition saw her score a career-high 39.7 in the all-around. Zamarripa is ranked in the Top 10 nationally on all four events and the all-around - 2nd on bars, 3rd on vault, beam and all-around, and 10th on floor. Her season averages all top 9.84 on each event - 9.9 on vault, 9.925 on bars, 9.884 on beam and 9.841 on floor. Her all-around average of 39.579 is the highest in the nation.

Models Of Consistency -- UCLA's top guns have shown amazing consistency this year, with senior Anna Li hitting all 32 of her routines this season without a fall, and four others having hit all but one routine. Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs is 25-for-26 and 40 of her last 41 dating back to last year. Brittani McCullough is 28-for-29 on the year and has hit 58 of her last 59 routines without a fall. Vanessa Zamarripa is 36-for-37 this season and has hit 52 of her last 53 routines without a fall. Aisha Gerber is 22-for-23 on the year.

Li's All-Around Excellence -- Senior Anna Li has made a triumphant return to all-around competition, scoring 39+ in all seven of her all-around attempts, with a high of 39.575 set twice and two other scores above 39.4. Li, who had not gone all-around since 2008 due to injuries, has three all-around wins in seven meets. She is averaging 39.404 and ranks 10th nationally. Li is second on the team with 12 individual victories this season and has won bars in seven of the eight meets in which she has competed, with a 9.975, three 9.95s and three 9.925s to her credit.

Frattone Has Successful Return -- Sophomore Tauny Frattone, who missed most of last season with injuries, has made a successful return to competition, ranking in the Top 15 nationally on vault and as high as No. 1 in January. Frattone has career-highs of 9.95 on vault, 9.825 on bars, 9.775 on beam, 9.9 on floor and 39.325 in the all-around. She has picked up three first-place showings on vault (second-most on the team), one on floor and one in the all-around this season.

Freshmen Making Strong Contributions -- Freshmen Monique De La Torre and Lichelle Wong have become fixtures in the Bruin lineup and have excelled at a national level. De La Torre currently ranks 20th in the nation on uneven bars and averages 9.866 on the event, with a high of 9.9 achieved on her first-ever collegiate routine on Jan. 22 at Cal. She has two uneven bars titles on the year. Wong has been a fixture in the lineup on both uneven bars and floor exercise. She has career-highs of 9.9 on each event, accomplished on Jan. 31 vs. Arizona State, as well as on bars in the Bruins' last meet. She is just out of the Top 25 nationally on bars, ranking 26th with a RQS of 9.860.

Perfect Pair -- Sophomores Vanessa Zamarripa and Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs have each scored a perfect 10 this season, recording them in back-to-back meets at Cal State Fullerton and at Georgia. Zamarripa earned the Bruins' first perfect 10 of the season on Feb. 26 at Fullerton with a 10.0 on vault. The perfect 10 was the fourth of her career on the event. Hopfner-Hibbs recorded the first perfect 10 of her career at Georgia on Mar. 6, nailing a perfect balance beam routine. It was UCLA's first 10 on beam since Kate Richardson achieved the feat on Feb. 1, 2004. The perfect 10, which came with Hopfner-Hibbs competing second in the lineup, also helped the Bruins achieve a 49.65 team score on beam, the third-highest in school history.

Bruins Honored By Pac-10 -- UCLA has dominated the Pac-10 Special Performance of the Week Awards this season, winning six times - Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs on Jan. 19 for her 9.9 on floor at Washington, Vanessa Zamarripa on Jan. 26 for her 9.975 on beam at Stanford, Brittani McCullough on Feb. 2 for her 9.925 vault vs. ASU, Anna Li on Feb. 16 for her 9.975 on bars against Stanford, Zamarripa on Mar. 2 for her 10.0 on vault at Cal State Fullerton and Hopfner-Hibbs on Mar. 9 for her perfect 10 on beam at Georgia. Additionally, the Bruins have had four Pac-10 Gymnasts of the week - Hopfner-Hibbs on Jan. 12 and Zamarripa on Feb. 16, Feb. 23 and Mar. 16.

Bruins Set Season-Highs At Georgia -- UCLA earned a season-high 197.875, its highest team score since 2004, but was edged out by host Georgia, who scored 197.9. The Bruins hit 24-for-24 for the second-straight meet and set season-highs on vault (49.5) and beam (49.65), and UCLA sophomore Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs scored the first perfect 10 of her career on balance beam. Vanessa Zamarripa won the all-around with a career-high tying 39.675, while Anna Li was second with a season-high tying 39.575. Li also won the uneven bars with a 9.925.

NCAA West Regionals Coming To Pauley Pavilion In April -- UCLA will be hosting the NCAA West Regionals in Pauley Pavilion on Saturday, April 10 at 6 pm. The NCAA Regional meet is the qualifying meet for the NCAA Championships. The top two teams, as well as the top two all-around competitors not on an advancing team, from each of the six regionals around the country will receive an automatic berth to the 2010 National Collegiate Women's Gymnastics Championships, being held April 22-24, at the University of Florida in Gainesville. In addition, the event winners at the regional championships will advance to the national championships in that event only, if they are not part of a qualifying team or the all-around competition.

Lower-level reserved tickets cost $14 for adults and $12 for youth. Mid-level general admission seats are $10 for adults and $8 for youth. UCLA last hosted a NCAA Regional meet in 2001 and went on to win the NCAA Championship that year. Tickets are available now at tickets.ucla.edu or 310-UCLA-WIN.

Participating teams and individuals will be announced on Mar. 29.

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