UCLA Gymnasts Return To Competition Sunday At Cal State Fullerton

Jan. 15, 2008

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This Week -- Tenth-ranked UCLA (2-0) travels a short distance to Fullerton for a Sunday, Jan. 20 quad meet with Cal State Fullerton (1-1), Brown (2-0) and Wisconsin-Eau Claire (1-2). The meet will take place at Titan Gym at 2 pm. Tickets can be purchased at the gym for $5.

Live Coverage -- Live scoring will be provided for Sunday's meet. Please check the calendar tab at UCLABruins.com on the day of the meet for the live scoring link.

In The Rankings -- UCLA, which was the pre-season No. 4 team, dropped to No. 10 in the latest rankings, which are determined by average score. The Bruins' season-opening score was 194.975. UCLA ranks No. 3 on vault (49.25), No. 6 on beam (48.875), No. 13 on floor (48.75) and No. 25 on bars (48.1). Individually, sophomore Anna Li is ranked in the Top 20 in all events - No. 5 in the all-around (39.45), No. 3 on bars (9.9), No. 13 on floor (9.875), and No. 16 on vault (9.85) and beam (9.825). Junior Kristina Comforte is the nation's top-ranked vaulter (tied with LSU's Ashleigh Clare-Kearney) after recording a 9.925 in the season opener. Comforte also ranks 20th on floor (9.85). Redshirt freshman Brittani McCullough ranks No. 8 in the all-around (39.375) and on vault (9.875), No. 13 on floor (9.875) and is tied with Ariana Berlin for No. 16 on bars (9.85).

Bruins Win Season Opener -- UCLA's 2008 season got off to a successful start at the Lady Luck Invitational on Jan. 4, as the Bruins scored 194.975 and took first place by a point over Oregon State and a point and a half over Arizona State despite having to count three falls. Sophomore Anna Li was in mid-season form, winning the all-around with a score of 39.45, the highest all-around total by a Bruin in a season opener since 2005. Li also won the uneven bars with a 9.9, balance beam with a 9.825 and tied for first on floor with a 9.875. Redshirt freshman Brittani McCullough made her competitive debut a memorable one, placing second in the all-around with a 39.375, tying for first on floor with a 9.875, second on bars with a 9.85 and third on vault with a 9.875.

Li Wins First Of Two Hometown Meets, Named Pac-10 Gymnast Of The Week -- In the first of her two homecoming meets, sophomore Anna Li won the all-around and three events at the Lady Luck Invitational in Las Vegas to earn the season's first Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week honors. Li was born and raised in Las Vegas and trained with her parents Yuejiu Li and Jiani Wu at Las Vegas Flyers before her family moved to Illinois. In February, Li will have the opportunity to compete in front of another hometown crowd when the Bruins compete at the IGI Chicago Style Meet on Feb. 8 at Chicago's Navy Pier. Li graduated from Waubonsie Valley HS in Aurora, IL and trained at Aerial Gymnastics.

Happy Returns -- Junior Kristina Comforte and redshirt freshman Brittani McCullough saw big success in the season opener after lengthy absences due to injury. Comforte, who nearly had to injury-retire after ankle surgery last March, competed in the all-around for the first time since the 2006 NCAA Championships. The two-time All-American, who competed in just six meets only on balance beam last year, placed first on vault with a 9.925, third on floor with a 9.85 and fourth on beam with a 9.775. McCullough, in her first competition since the 2005 USA Championships, took second place in the all-around and bars, first on floor and third on vault. McCullough sat out the 2007 season after severing a tendon in her toe during a car accident in November of 2006.

Six Make Bruin Debuts -- Along with Brittani McCullough, five other Bruins made their UCLA debuts at the season opener. Freshmen Marci Bernholtz (bars), Allison Taylor (bars), Niki Tom (vault, beam) and Mizuki Sato (floor) all earned spots in the competitive lineup, and Talia Kushynski also saw action, performing exhibitions on beam and floor.

Berlin Rod-Free -- Another Bruin coming back from surgery is junior Ariana Berlin, who underwent a complicated but successful surgery in May to remove the titanium rod that has been in her leg since a 2001 car accident. Berlin had competed with the rod in her leg for the past two seasons and was limited in training because of it. Now rod-free, she has been training regularly in the gym. She competed in the all-around in the season opener, performing in the leadoff position on all four events. Berlin tied for second on bars with a 9.85 and added scores of 9.775 on vault and 9.725 on beam. She suffered a rare fall on floor exercise, just her fifth in 110 career routines, but she still owns an astounding career hit percentage of 95.5%.

Injury Update -- Freshman Shavahn Church, who was a late addition to the Bruin squad, joining the team for the start of this winter quarter, will have to wait to make her collegiate debut. The British National Team member is out indefinitely after undergoing successful arthroscopic knee surgery late last month. Church was a Top 20 all-around finisher at the 2005 World Championships and won a silver medal on uneven bars at the 2006 Commonwealth Games. Sophomore Ashley Jenkins suffered a broken toe three weeks ago but could be back in limited action for the Bruins' next meet. Melissa Chan and Tasha Schwikert, who sat out the opener with minor injuries, should be available this week as well.

Looking Ahead -- The Bruins will host their first home meet in Pauley Pavilion on Sunday, Jan. 27 at 2 pm against Pac-10 rival Stanford in the John Wooden Challenge. The first 1,000 fans in attendance will receive a John Wooden Pyramid of Success giveaway. In addition, the 2008 gymnastics posters will be distributed for a post-meet autograph session with the Bruins.

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