UCLA Travels To Corvallis For Final Pac-10 Dual Meet
Feb. 25, 2009
This Week -- The fourth-ranked UCLA gymnastics team (9-2) will travel to Corvallis, OR to face ninth-ranked Oregon State (9-5) for its final Pac-10 Conference regular season meet on Friday, Feb. 27. The meet will take place at Gill Coliseum at 7 pm.
Live Coverage -- Live stats and video will be available at www.osubeavers.com.
In The Rankings -- The Bruins dropped one spot to No. 4 with a RQS of 196.34. UCLA ranks second on vault (49.320) fifth on bars (49.180), sixth on beam (49.045) and 12th on floor (48.990).
Individually, no Bruins are eligible for the all-around rankings, since none have competed in the all-around in at least six meets. Vanessa Zamarripa moved back to No. 1 on vault with a 9.940 RQS and also ranks 24th on bars with a 9.840 RQS. Aisha Gerber ranks fifth on beam (9.875) and 16th on vault (9.870). Ariana Berlin is tied for 18th on uneven bars (9.845). Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs ranks seventh on beam (9.865) and tied for 22nd on floor (9.845).
About The Beavers -- Oregon State moved up one to No. 8 in the national rankings with a RQS of 196.125. Junior Mandi Rodriguez ranks sixth nationally in the all-around with a RQS of 39.4 and tied for first on floor with a 9.915. She is also tied for fourth on vault with a 9.910. Senior Jami Lanz also ranks nationally in the all-around, at 16th with a 39.245 RQS. Last weekend, Oregon State was upset in a quad meet at Washington, placing third with a 195.8. Rodriguez won the all-around with a career-high tying 39.5.
The Beavers are coached by former UCLA All-American Tanya (Service) Chaplin and associate head coach Michael Chaplin, who was also a UCLA All-American and a member of UCLA's 1987 NCAA Championship team.
A Look At The All-Time Series -- UCLA holds a 38-15 regular season record against Oregon State. The Bruins have won seven of the last eight meetings but lost the last meeting in Corvallis in 2007. UCLA won both regular season matchups a year ago, winning in Las Vegas in January and in Los Angeles in March.
Last Competition -- UCLA suffered its first loss since the season opener, finishing in second place to host Nebraska by just one-tenth of a point at the Masters Classic in Lincoln. The Bruins had to count a fall on the balance beam in the final rotation and scored 196.125, just behind Nebraska's 196.225. UCLA went up by .75 after three rotations thanks to a monster score of 49.575 on vault in rotation two and a 49.2 on bars in rotation three, but the Bruins could only muster 48.375 on beam in the final rotation. Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs tied for first in the all-around with a 39.475 for her second consecutive all-around title. Vanessa Zamarripa scored her second-straight perfect 10 on vault. Ariana Berlin tied for first on bars with a season-high 9.9, and Aisha Gerber and Marci Bernholtz tied for first on beam with scores of 9.85.
Zamarripa Perfect For Third Time -- Freshman Vanessa Zamarripa notched her second consecutive perfect 10 on vault on Feb. 22 at Nebraska, floating a perfect Yurchenko layout full for an easy stuck landing. It was her third 10.0 of the season - she previously scored 10s at Cal State Fullerton on Jan. 23 at home in a quad meet on Feb. 15. Zamarripa is the first UCLA gymnast to score three perfect 10s in a season since Tasha Schwikert in 2005 and the first Bruin to score three 10s on the same event in one season since Jeanette Antolin had eight 10s on vault in 2004. Zamarripa, who earned Pac-10 Special Performance of the Week honors for the second time this season, is ranked first in the nation on vault with a RQS of 9.94. Her season average of 9.939 also tops all vaulters.
Hopfner-Hibbs On A Roll -- Freshman Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs has been the model of consistency and excellence for the Bruins, hitting 21 consecutive routines with scores of 9.775 or better, with 15 of those hit routines going 9.85 or better. She leads the team with 19 Top 3 finishes and is second with eight individual victories. Her consistency has been most evident on balance beam, where she ranks seventh nationally with a RQS of 9.865. She holds a season average of 9.864 on that event and has placed in the Top 3 on beam in all but one meet this season. She has won the all-around in two consecutive meets and has scored career-bests during the last two weekends on vault (9.95) and bars (9.875).
Another Weekly Sweep -- For the second time this season, Bruin freshmen Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs and Vanessa Zamarripa gave UCLA a sweep of the weekly Pac-10 honors, with Hopfner-Hibbs claiming Gymnast of the Week acclaim and Zamarripa Special Performance of the Week honors. The dynamic duo previously earned these awards on Jan. 27. The Gymnast of the Week honor is the second for Hopfner-Hibbs, and Zamarripa has won Special Performance of the Week honors three times, including the last two in a row.
Berlin Maintains Consistency -- Senior Ariana Berlin remains one of the most consistent gymnasts in UCLA history, hitting over 96% of her routines throughout her career. So far this season, she has hit all 17 of her routines, with 14 of those 17 scores going for 9.8 or better. She averages 9.775 or higher on all four events - 9.85 on vault and bars, 9.775 on beam and 9.8 on floor. She has four event titles this season, two coming at Arizona State on Jan. 30, when she tied her career-high on vault with a 9.9 and won the all-around in her first all-around attempt this year, scoring 39.3. Also at that meet, Berlin accomplished a feat she has been working on for three years - competing an Arabian double front on floor exercise. Berlin performed the E-level skill for the first time in competition and hit it, scoring 9.8 to lead all Bruins on the event.
McCullough Back On Floor -- Redshirt sophomore Brittani McCullough made an emotional return to the floor exercise lineup Feb. 15, competing on floor for the first time since rupturing her Achilles tendon on the event a year ago. McCullough, who captivated the audience with her unique dance, tumbled a double pike for her opening pass and ended with a double tuck to earn a 9.675 on her routine, which was valued at 9.9. She earned the same mark a week later at Nebraska after incurring an out of bounds deduction but earned a score of 9.85 from one of the two judges.
Gerber Returns As Good As New -- Freshman Aisha Gerber returned to competition Feb. 22 after being forced out of competition halfway through the Feb. 15 meet. Gerber fell on top of the low bar during one-touch warmups and was unable to complete her uneven bars routine, getting all the way to the dismount before dropping down off the bar due to shortness of breath. She was pulled from the remaining events for precautionary reasons but returned a week later to compete on three events at Nebraska. Gerber tied for first on beam with a 9.85, tied her career-high on vault with a 9.9 and debuted a full-in on floor exercise and scored 9.825.
O Canada -- UCLA has a long history of tapping into the Great White North for gymnastics talent. With three Canadians on the Bruin squad this season - sophomore Marci Bernholtz and freshmen Aisha Gerber and Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs - it has now been 16 consecutive years that UCLA has had a Canadian on the roster, with 1993 marking the last year no Canadians graced the Bruin roster. Bernholtz has represented Canada at the 2006 and 2007 World Championships and was the alternate for the 2004 Olympic Games. Gerber competed for Canada at World Cup events, the 2006 American Cup and 2004 Pacific Alliance meet. Hopfner-Hibbs represented Canada at the 2008 Olympics, 2005-07 World Championships and 2006 Commonwealth Games.
Youth Is Served -- With seven freshmen and five sophomores on a 16-member squad, the 2009 Bruins are undoubtedly a young team, and they were put to the test immediately, with the underclassmen holding 22 of the 24 slots in the competitive lineup in the first two meets of the season.
The freshman class alone competed 16 of the 24 routines in the season opener. Two freshmen competed in the all-around at Utah - Aisha Gerber, who placed third in the all-around and won the balance beam, and Vanessa Zamarripa, who placed fourth in the all-around and third on vault. Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs competed on three events and earned a third-place finish on beam. Kaelie Baer hit 3-for-3 on her routines, scoring 9.8 on vault, 9.775 on beam and 9.75 on floor. Alyssa Pritchett had a successful showing as well, scoring 9.8 on vault as a last-minute substitute. Five freshmen saw action on vault - Gerber, Zamarripa, Baer, Tauny Frattone and Pritchett.
The sophomores have come up big as well, hitting 29-of-37 routines in competition for 9.7 or better, including three 9.9s from Mizuki Sato on vault and floor, a 9.9 on beam and 9.875 on floor from Niki Tom, and a 9.85 on beam for Marci Bernholtz. The sophomores have already racked up six individual wins on the season after capturing just one a year ago.
Upperclassmen On Their Way Back -- After starting the season limited to no more than one event, the Bruin upperclassmen are on their way back to all-around action. Senior Ariana Berlin went from one event (uneven bars) in the first two meets to all-around action on Jan. 30. Junior Anna Li also did just uneven bars in the first two meets and is now back on two events, having competed on balance beam three times now. Redshirt sophomore Brittani McCullough, who sat out the first meet after having her ankle scoped in November, is now competing on three events (vault, bars and floor).
The Streak Lives On -- Senior Ariana Berlin's streak of consecutive meets has increased to 51 after competing on three events at Nebraska. Berlin, who joined the UCLA squad in 2006 as a walk-on who had not competed in five years, has competed in every meet of her collegiate career and has hit over 96% of her routines over her career.
Looking Ahead -- The Bruins return home for a pair of home meets on consecutive Sundays to close out the regular season. UCLA will first host Georgia on Mar. 8 before hosting Nebraska on Mar. 15 for Senior Day.
UCLA-Georgia Meet On Live TV -- UCLA's Mar. 8 home meet against four-time defending NCAA champion Georgia will be broadcast live on FSN Prime Ticket. The meet will begin promptly at 2 pm, so all pre-meet festivities and entertainment will take place earlier than usual. Pregame entertainment is scheduled to begin just before 1:45 pm.
This live broadcast is believed to be the first live collegiate gymnastics broadcast since the early 90's. Jim Watson and Tasha Schwikert will be calling the action. Schwikert, a 12-time All-American at UCLA and a member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic team, won the NCAA all-around titles in 2005 and 2008.
Olympic Medalist Sacramone To Make Appearance At Mar. 8 Home Meet -- Olympic silver medalist and two-time World champion Alicia Sacramone will make a special appearance at UCLA's Mar. 8 home meet against Georgia. Sacramone will be available for a limited autograph session inside Pauley Pavilion at 1 pm.