UCLA Gymnasts Win Season Opener at Lady Luck Invitational With 194.975

Jan. 5, 2008

Las Vegas, NV - The fourth-ranked UCLA gymnastics team kicked off the 2008 season by winning the Lady Luck Invitational on Friday evening in Las Vegas' South Point Hotel & Casino. The Bruins defeated Oregon State and Arizona with a team score of 194.975. Bruin sophomore Anna Li, who was born and raised in Las Vegas, won the all-around with a score of 39.45 and also claimed event honors on bars (9.9), beam (9.825) and floor (9.875). Redshirt freshman Brittani McCullough, competing for the first time since the 2005 USA Championships, placed second in the all-around with a 39.375 and tied with Li for first on floor.

The Bruins got off to a great start on vault in rotation one, scoring a 49.25 to grab a 1.225 lead over second-place Oregon State. Ariana Berlin and Natalie Padilla started off with a pair of 9.775s. Li followed with a 9.85. Freshman Niki Tom filled in as a late replacement and scored a 9.825. McCullough made her collegiate debut after sitting out the last two years with injury and scored a 9.875. Kristina Comforte, who was limited to just beam last year because of injuries, vaulted for the first time since the 2006 NCAA Championships and earned a 9.925 to win the event.

UCLA ran into some trouble on uneven bars, having to count two falls. Li led the way with a 9.9, and McCullough and Berlin each scored 9.85. The Bruins' bars score of 48.1 was still enough to keep them in first place with a 97.35, .85 ahead of Arizona State, which moved up to second after a 48.75 on beam.

On balance beam, the Bruins received five hit routines, all scoring 9.725 or better. Li led the pack with a meet-winning 9.825, McCullough, Jordan Schwikert and Comforte each scored 9.775, and Berlin recorded a 9.725 to help the Bruins record a 48.875 event score and a 146.225 team mark after three rotations. Oregon State moved into second with a 145.125 after a strong vault rotation that scored 49.125, and Arizona State, which competed just five athletes on floor, dropped to third with a 144.575.

UCLA closed things out on floor exercise and overcame falls on the final passes from the first two competitors to score 48.75. Li and McCullough each scored 9.875, tying for first on the event. Comforte recorded a 9.85, and Schwikert earned 9.775.

Six Bruins made their UCLA debuts during the meet, with McCullough in the all-around, Tom making the vault and beam lineups, Mizuki Sato competing on floor, Marci Bernholtz and Allison Taylor competing on beam, and Talia Kushynski performing an exhibition on floor. The Bruins were competing without Tasha Schwikert and Melissa Chan, who were nursing various injuries, and Ashley Jenkins, who broke a toe last week.

UCLA (2-0) will return home for its annual Meet the Bruins exhibition on Sunday, Jan. 13 at 2 pm in the John Wooden Center before hitting the competition floor again on Sunday, Jan. 20 at Cal State Fullerton.

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