Top-Seeded UCLA To Vie For Sixth NCAA Championship

April 20, 2010

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UCLA At The NCAA Championships -- Top-seeded UCLA (19-3) will compete for a sixth national title at the NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships on Apr. 22-24 in Gainesville, FL. The Bruins begin competition on Thursday, Apr. 22 at 1:00 pm ET in the afternoon team preliminary session at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center. Battling with UCLA for three spots in the NCAA Super Six Team Finals will be No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 5 Utah, No. 8 Oregon State, No. 9 LSU and No. 12 Nebraska. Competing in the evening session (7:00 pm ET) are No. 2 and host team Florida, No. 3 Alabama, No. 6 Stanford, No. 7 Arkansas, No. 10 Missouri and No. 11 Michigan.

Championship Schedule -- The competition begins on Thursday with two preliminary sessions at 1:00 pm and 7:00 pm. The top three teams from each session will advance to the Super Six Team Finals on Friday at 6:00 pm. Individual event finals will take place on Saturday at 6:00 pm. The all-around champion and individual event finalists will be determined during Thursday's preliminaries. Individuals qualify for event finals by placing in the Top 4 (including ties) of that particular event during their own preliminary session.

Coverage -- Live scoring and video for all sessions will be available at ncaa.com. Also make sure to follow the UCLA Athletics twitter (@uclaathletics) for periodic updates. The meet will be televised by CBS on May 8 from 12-2 pm PT.

Rotation Order -- The Bruins will begin the preliminary meet on a bye before bars and will end on vault. Oklahoma has Olympic order and will begin on vault. Oregon State starts on bars. Nebraska begins on beam, LSU starts on a bye before floor, and Utah starts on floor. Rotating with UCLA will be individual all-around qualifier Rebecca Simbhudas from Iowa and balance beam and floor exercise qualifier Courtney McCool from Georgia.

UCLA's NCAA Championship History -- The Bruins have won five NCAA gymnastics titles - in 1997 at Florida, 2000 at Boise State, 2001 at Georgia, 2003 at Nebraska and 2004 at UCLA. This is UCLA's 26th overall appearance in the 29 NCAA Championships.

Individual NCAA History -- A total of 13 Bruins have won 28 NCAA titles to rank second behind only Georgia (37) in individual NCAA titles. UCLA's NCAA champions are: Kim Hamilton (1987-88-89 floor, 1989 vault), Jill Andrews (1988 vault, 1989 beam), Stella Umeh (1995 and 1998 floor), Heidi Moneymaker (1988 bars, 1999 vault), Kiralee Hayashi (1999 beam), Mohini Bhardwaj (2000 bars, 2001 floor), Lena Degteva (2000 beam), Onnie Willis (2001 all-around), Yvonne Tousek (2001 bars), Jamie Dantzscher (2002 all-around, vault and floor; 2003 bars), Kate Richardson (2003 bars and beam, 2006 floor), Kristen Maloney (2005 vault and beam) and Tasha Schwikert (2005 all-around, 2008 all-around and bars). Two other Bruins won AIAW national titles - Sharon Shapiro (1980 sweep of all all-around and all four events, 1981 all-around and vault) and Diane Dovas (1981 bars). Shapiro remains the only gymnast ever to sweep the all-around and all four events in one year at a national championship. Hamilton is the only woman to win three consecutive floor titles. UCLA has won at least two individual titles in eight of the last 12 years. The Bruins have won a team or individual title in 11 of the last 13 years and have won more individual titles (17) in the last 10 years than any other team.

Last Year At NCAAs -- UCLA fell just short of qualifying to the Super Six Team Finals, losing a tiebreaker to Utah for the third spot and finishing in seventh place for the second consecutive year.

The Bruins started the preliminaries with a bang, scoring 49.425 on vault, led by a 9.95 from freshman Vanessa Zamarripa and 9.9s from senior Ariana Berlin and freshman Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs, but stalled on uneven bars a bit, counting a fall and scoring 48.7. The Bruins rebounded on balance beam, however, scoring 49.2, and did all they could on floor in the final rotation, scoring 49.3 and tying Utah for third place with a 196.625, but in the tiebreaker, where all six scores count, the Bruins fell just short, 234.650-234.575.

Despite the team setback, the Bruins shined individually, with five team members earning a total of 15 All-America honors, most amongst any school in 2009. UCLA had three gymnasts on the Top 8 all-around podium, with Zamarripa placing third, Berlin tying for fourth and Hopfner-Hibbs finishing seventh.

NCAA Championship Notes

  • Only four teams have ever won the NCAA title in the 28 years of the Championships - Georgia (10), Utah (9), UCLA (5) and Alabama (4).
  • Nine schools return from the 2009 NCAA Championships - Alabama (2nd place), Utah (3rd), Florida (4th), Arkansas (5th), LSU (6th), UCLA (7th), Stanford (8th), Oklahoma (10th) and Oregon State (11th). Notably absent is defending champion Georgia, whose five-year reign as NCAA Champion ended after losing a tiebreaker for second place with Oregon State at the NCAA Regionals. Missouri is making its first-ever NCAA Championships appearance. Nebraska is back after a two-year absence, and Michigan returns to the championship stage after a one-year absence.
  • Eleven of the Top 12 ranked teams qualified for the NCAA Championships. The only Top 12 team that did not advance was No. 5 Georgia, who was beaten out at the NCAA Regionals by No. 15 Missouri and No. 8 Oregon State.
  • This is the third time Florida has hosted the NCAA Championships. UCLA won its first NCAA title the last time the Championships were held in Florida in 1997. The Gators also hosted in 1986. Utah won the championship that year.
  • The host team has won the NCAA Championship just three times in the last 13 years (Georgia in 2008, UCLA in 2004 and Alabama in 2002) and 10 times overall in the 29 years of the Championships.
  • UCLA ranks second amongst all schools with 28 individual titles. Georgia leads all teams with 37. Utah is third with 24.
  • UCLA has won either a team or an individual NCAA title in 11 of the last 13 years.

    UCLA vs. 2010 Field -- The Bruins have matched up against four of the 11 other teams in the NCAA field this season. UCLA has wins over Utah, Oregon State (twice), Stanford and Arkansas and a pair of dual meet losses to Stanford.

    Back To The First - UCLA won its very first NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championship in Gainesville back in 1997 during Valorie Kondos Field's third year as sole head coach. The Bruins took advantage of an opening after Georgia counted two falls on beam in the first rotation, following the Gym Dogs with a stellar beam set that scored 49.2 in the second rotation. The Bruins were in third at the halfway mark but improved their position with strong vaulting. UCLA went into the final rotation on uneven bars tied with Michigan and knowing it needed to score 49.25 to surpass Arizona State, who finished the meet on a bye. While Michigan faltered on floor, the Bruins hit all six of their routines. UCLA's first four competitors each scored 9.825 or higher, and freshman Heidi Moneymaker needed just 9.775 to clinch the championship for the Bruins. She scored that and more with a 9.925. Senior Leah Homma's 9.95 to close the set punctuated the evening for the Bruins, who totaled a season-high 197.15, three-tenths better than second-place Arizona State. The championship was the first by any team outside of Utah, Georgia or Alabama.

    UCLA Wins Regionals In Dominating Fashion -- UCLA had a dominating performance, scoring 197.825 to win the NCAA Los Angeles Regional Championships and qualify for the NCAA Championships for the 26th time in school history. The Bruins outscored their nearest competitor by nearly a full point and the third-place team by 2.725 points. Senior Anna Li provided the night's top highlight, scoring her second consecutive perfect 10 on the uneven bars. She also scored a career-high 39.65 in the all-around to place second to sophomore teammate Vanessa Zamarripa (39.675). UCLA sophomore Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs tied for third with Arkansas' Casey Jo Magee with a career-high 39.6. The Bruins had season-highs on vault (49.55) and bars (49.55).

    Back-To-Back Leaders Of The Pac -- UCLA won its 15th overall and second consecutive Pac-10 Conference title on Mar. 27, scoring 197.35 to record the highest score amongst all conference championships in 2010. The Bruins hit 24-for-24 routines, with all but the very first routine of the day scoring 9.8 or better. The team started the meet on balance beam and hit for a team total of 49.275, pacing the way for team marks of 49.3 or better on the final three events. Bruin sophomore Vanessa Zamarripa won the all-around with a 39.575 and vault with a 9.95. Senior Anna Li recorded her first-ever perfect 10 on uneven bars to win the event, her third Pac-10 event title in her career. Junior Brittani McCullough also won a Pac-10 title, tying for first on floor exercise with a career-best 9.925.

    Zamarripa Wins Highest Pac-10 Honors -- Not only did sophomore Vanessa Zamarripa win her first two Pac-10 individual championships with wins in the all-around and on vault, but she became just the sixth sophomore ever to be voted the Pac-10 Gymnast of the Year. Her award is the 17th by a UCLA gymnast in Pac-10 history. Zamarripa has been one of the nation's top competitors this season, finishing the regular season ranked No. 1 in the all-around and in the Top 10 on all four events. She leads the team with 24 individual victories - seven in the all-around, seven on beam, five on vault and two each on bars and floor. She earned Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week honors three times and Pac-10 Special Performance of the Week honors twice this season. Zamarripa scored a perfect 10 on vault at Cal State Fullerton in February and already ranks sixth all-time at UCLA with four career perfect 10s.

    Perfect Endings For Li -- Senior Anna Li has made her last season a memorable one, scoring perfect 10s in her last two meets. Her first came at the Pac-10 Championships, where she earned 10s from all four judges to win her second consecutive Pac-10 uneven bars crown. Two weeks later, she received another perfect 10 on bars to win her fourth-straight NCAA Regional uneven bars title. Li is the first Bruin to earn back-to-back 10s on uneven bars since Mohini Bhardwaj on Mar. 11 and Mar. 18, 2001 and the first Bruin ever to score a perfect 10 on uneven bars in NCAA competition.

    McCullough's Tumble Triumphs -- Redshirt junior Brittani McCullough can now add NCAA Regional and Pac-10 floor exercise champion to her resume, claiming a share of the titles with career-high tying marks of 9.925 at both championships. McCullough, the 2008 Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year, was a first-team All-American on floor last season and is averaging 9.87 on the event this year, with six scores of 9.9 or higher. She earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors on floor and second-team on vault.

    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 13 meets, the Bruins have hit 75 of 78 bar routines, with 57 routines scoring 9.8 or higher and 22 routines scoring 9.9 or higher. Two Bruins are averaging 9.9 or higher - Anna Li (9.935) and Vanessa Zamarripa (9.922), while two others average 9.8 or higher - Monique De La Torre (9.858) and Brittani McCullough (9.806). UCLA averages 49.285 on the event, with a high of 49.55 last achieved at the NCAA Regionals. 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 paid off, as the Bruins have put up marks of 49.65 at Georgia (third-highest beam score in UCLA history), 49.375 at Cal State Fullerton, 49.3 at NCAA Regionals, 49.275 at Pac-10s, 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. This same exact lineup also performed well at Pac-10s, scoring 49.275 in the first rotation, and at Regionals, scoring 49.3 in the last rotation.

    Vaulting To The Top -- UCLA has scored 49.35+ in its last six meets, with a season-best 49.55 achieved at NCAA Regionals. The Bruins' highest season average on any event is on vault, where they average 49.294. UCLA has totaled 24 9.9+ scores and 61 9.8+ scores in 78 vault attempts this year.

    Vanessa Zamarripa ranks No. 1 on vault and has scored 9.9 or better in nine of 13 meets with one perfect 10 and has never scored lower than 9.8 in team competition. Zamarripa has competed two vaults this year - Yurchenko half-on front layout half and Yurchenko layout full. She has been mostly competing the Yurchenko layout full.

    The majority of UCLA's vaulters have scored 9.9 or better this season, with highs of 10.0 from Zamarripa; 9.95 from Tauny Frattone, Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs and Anna Li; 9.925 from Brittani McCullough; and 9.85 from Monique De La Torre and Aisha Gerber.

    Flooring The Judges -- The Bruins rank No. 1 in the nation on floor exercise with a RQS of 49.405 and have scored 49.325 or better in their last six meets. UCLA has twice scored a season-high of 49.475 and holds a season average of 49.112.

    Anna Li and Vanessa Zamarripa have the Bruins' highest floor score this year with 9.95s. Brittani McCullough and Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs have scored 9.925, and Tauny Frattone and Lichelle Wong have highs of 9.9. Niki Tom and Mizuki Sato each have highs of 9.875. UCLA's expected floor lineup of Frattone, Tom, Zamarripa, Li, McCullough and Hopfner-Hibbs all hold season averages of 9.8 or better. Hopfner-Hibbs has UCLA's highest season average at 9.88, followed closely by McCullough's 9.87.

    24-For-24 -- UCLA has hit 24-for-24 in six meets this season, including four of the last five meets. The Bruins did not have any falls in their meets against Utah, at Arizona, at Cal State Fullerton, at Georgia, at Pac-10s and at the NCAA Regionals.

    In The Rankings -- UCLA finished the regular season third overall with a RQS of 197.060. The Bruins are first on bars (49.320) and floor (49.405), third on vault (49.390) and fourth on beam (49.215).

    Vanessa Zamarripa surged into the No. 1 spot in the all-around with a 39.630 RQS. She also moved into a tie for No. 1 on vault (9.940) and maintained her No. 2 position on bars (9.925). Zamarripa also ranks No. 4 on beam (9.920) and No. 10 on floor (9.910). Anna Li ranks No. 1 on uneven bars for the sixth-straight week and the 10th week overall this season (in 12 weeks) with a 9.950 RQS. She is also ranked 13th in the all-around (39.415) and 21st on beam (9.865). Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs ranks in the Top 15 on two events - No. 6 on floor (9.920) and No. 13 on beam (9.885). Tauny Frattone ranks 14th on vault (9.900), Monique De La Torre is 21st on bars (9.870), Lichelle Wong is 25th on bars (9.875), and Brittani McCullough ranks 15th on floor (9.905).

    High-Scoring Zamarripa -- Sophomore Vanessa Zamarripa has been racking up big scores this season for the Bruins. Thirty-one of her 45 routines have scored 9.9 or higher, including a perfect 10 on vault, a 9.975 on bars, and a 9.975 on beam. She has won the all-around in seven-straight meets, scoring 39.55 or better in all seven, with a career-high of 39.7 set Mar. 14. The Pac-10 Gymnast of the Year is ranked in the Top 10 nationally on all four events and the all-around - 1st in the all-around and on vault, 2nd on bars, 4th on beam and 10th on floor. Her season averages all top 9.84 on each event - 9.906 on vault, 9.922 on bars, 9.885 on beam and 9.850 on floor. Her all-around average of 39.591 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 39 of her routines this season without a fall, and four others having hit all but one routine. Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs is 32-for-33 and 47 of her last 48 dating back to last year. Brittani McCullough is 34-for-35 on the year and has hit 64 of her last 65 routines without a fall. Vanessa Zamarripa is 44-for-45 this season and has hit 60 of her last 61 routines without a fall. Aisha Gerber is 26-for-27 on the year.

    Li's All-Around Excellence -- Senior Anna Li has made a triumphant return to all-around competition, scoring 39+ in all eight of her all-around attempts, with a career-high of 39.65 set at the NCAA Regionals. Li, who had not gone all-around since 2008 due to injuries, has three all-around wins and seven Top 3 finishes in eight meets. She is averaging 39.434 and ranks 13th nationally. Li is second on the team with 15 individual victories this season and has won bars in nine of the 10 meets in which she has competed, with two 10s, 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, earning first-team All-Pac-10 honors on vault and ranking in the Top 15 nationally 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. Her season average of 9.867 on vault ranks second on the team.

    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 ranks 21st in the nation on uneven bars and averages 9.858 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, a first-team All-Pac-10 performer on bars, 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 home meet. She ranks 25th in the nation on bars. Wong's contributions will be very limited at the Championships, however. She is doubtful for competition after suffering a sprained ankle prior to the NCAA Regionals.

    4 Times Ten -- Senior Anna Li and sophomores Vanessa Zamarripa and Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs have combined to score four perfect 10s this season. Zamarripa earned the Bruins' first perfect 10 of the season on Feb. 26 at Cal State 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. Li earned her first-ever perfect mark on uneven bars to win the Pac-10 Championship, and she repeated that feat with a 10 on bars to win her fourth-consecutive Regional title. The four 10s this year mark the first time a Bruin team has scored a 10 on four or more events since 2004. UCLA has now recorded a total of 94 perfect 10s in school history.

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