Top-Ranked UCLA Travels To Bay Area For Two Meets

Jan. 21, 2010

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Bruins Double Up This Weekend -- The top-ranked UCLA gymnastics team (2-0) will compete twice on the road this weekend. First up is a tri-meet with California and San Jose State in Berkeley on Friday, Jan. 22 at 7:30 pm. On Sunday, Jan. 24, the Bruins meet up with eighth-ranked Stanford at 2 pm.

In The Rankings -- UCLA remains No. 1 in the national rankings for the second consecutive week with a season average of 196.362. The Bruins are also ranked No. 1 on vault and floor exercise, No. 3 on uneven bars and 10th on balance beam.

Individually, the Bruins have top-ranked gymnasts on three events. On vault, Tauny Frattone and Vanessa Zamarripa are tied for first (9.912 average), Anna Li is tops on uneven bars (9.937), and Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs is tied for first on floor (9.912). Hopfner-Hibbs is also ranked third in the alll-around (39.375) and tied for fourth on beam (9.875). Li ranks sixth in the all-around (39.25). Lichelle Wong is tied for 12th on bars (9.85), and on floor, Brittani McCullough is tied for ninth (9.875), while Zamarripa is tied for 18th (9.85).

Scouting The Opponents - Cal/San Jose State -- Cal is coming off a 192.825-191.8 loss against Arizona State. The Golden Bears had posted just one score higher than 191.8 during the 2009 season. Sophia Hocini was the all-around winner with a score of 38.825. San Jose State is 4-1 on the season after a quad meet win at UC Davis and a second-place finish at the Flips Invitational, where the Spartans recorded its season-high score of 192.4. Sophomore Thomasina Wallace was an NCAA all-around qualifier last season and became the first San Jose State gymnast ever to win a NCAA Regional title, capturing the uneven bars crown at the West Regionals with a 9.95.

Series With Cal/San Jose State -- UCLA is 53-1 all-time against California and 6-0 against San Jose State. The only Cal victory came back in 1985.

Scouting The Opponents - Stanford -- Stanford opened its season with a close 195.150-195.050 loss at Georgia and came back the following week to post a 196.025-194.675 home win against Arizona. Carly Janiga won the all-around with a 39.325 and was named the Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week. Janiga is the reigning Pac-10 all-around, bars and beam champion.

Series With Stanford -- UCLA has a 41-10-1 regular-season all-time record against Stanford. The two teams met just once last year, at the Pac-10 Championships, which were held at Stanford. The Bruins came from behind to win the meet in the final rotation with a stellar beam set. Stanford finished in third place, two-tenths behind UCLA and a quarter of a tenth behind second-place Oregon State. The last time UCLA and Stanford competed in a dual meet was Jan. 27, 2008, at UCLA. The Bruins edged the Cardinal by the slimmest margin, 195.050-195.025.

Bruins Win At Washington -- UCLA improved to 2-0 on the season with a 196.125-194.875 dual meet victory over 19th-ranked Washington in Seattle on Jan. 15. Bruin gymnasts took first place on every event, and senior Anna Li tied for first in the all-around with a 39.175. Capturing event victories were Tauny Frattone with a career-high 9.925 on vault, Anna Li with 9.925s on bars and beam, and Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs with a 9.9 on floor. The Bruins had 14 scores of 9.8 or higher and five of 9.9 or higher.

Bruins Blast Utah In Season Opener -- UCLA went 24-for-24 in its first meet of the 2010 season to record a 196.600-195.125 victory over second-ranked Utah in front of 5,128 fans in Pauley Pavilion on Jan. 9. The Bruins looked strong to start the year, recording five scores of 9.9 or higher and 15 scores of 9.8 or higher. Sophomore Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs won the all-around with a 39.375. Senior Anna Li was a close second with 39.325 in her first all-around appearance since 2008. UCLA won all four events, scoring 49+ on vault, bars and floor, and swept the individual titles, with Vanessa Zamarripa winning vault and tying with Hopfner-Hibbs for first on beam, Hopfner-Hibbs taking first on floor, and Li winning uneven bars.

Starting Strong -- The Bruins' team score of 196.6 against Utah was their highest in a season opener since scoring 197.3 at Utah in 2005 and ranks as the third-best season opening score in school history.

Hopfner-Hibbs Honored In Consecutive Weeks -- Sophomore Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs has been honored by the Pac-10 Conference in consecutive weeks. She was named the Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week for the fourth time after winning the all-around, beam and floor against Utah in week one and then earned Special Performance of the Week honors after winning floor with a 9.9 at Washington in week two.

Li Back In All-Around -- Competing in the all-around for the first time since 2008, senior Anna Li made a triumphant return, scoring 39.325 to place second overall against Utah. She earned her first all-around title of the year and also won bars and beam at Washington last weekend. In 2009, Li competed mainly on uneven bars, with three go-rounds on balance beam. She had scores of 9.85 on vault and 9.825 on floor on her first competitive routines on those events in nearly two years. Her uneven bars score of 9.95 earned her first place in the meet and is also the highest score in the nation on any event so far this season. Li ranks sixth nationally in the all-around and first on uneven bars.

Frattone Has Successful Return -- Sophomore Tauny Frattone, who missed most of last season with injuries, has made a successful return to competition, placing third in the all-around with a 38.725 at Washington and hitting all three of her events in the Utah meet. Frattone, who is now tied with teammate Vanessa Zamarripa for first in the national vault rankings, scored a career-high 9.925 on vault at Washington to take first place and also scored a career-best 9.825 on floor to tie for third place.

Wong Makes NCAA Debut -- Freshman Lichelle Wong made her collegiate debut Jan. 9 against Utah with a 9.85 on bars and a 9.75 on floor, where she was a last-minute substitute. Wong's 9.85 on bars was good for second place on the event. She made her season debut on vault at Washington and scored 9.75 and also recorded marks of 9.85 on bars and 9.775 on floor. The reigning Dutch national champion was eighth on uneven bars at the 2007 European Championships and is currently 12th in the national rankings on bars.

Zamarripa Fights Through Injury -- Sophomore Vanessa Zamarripa's status for the season opener was in question after suffering an elbow sprain in practice, but she rebounded to compete near-flawlessly on three events, placing first on vault (9.925) and beam (9.875) and tying for fourth on floor (9.85).

A Look At The Bruins -- After missing out on the NCAA Super Six Team finals on a tiebreaker in 2009, UCLA is back with the experience, talent, depth, hunger and motivation to form a formidable squad.

The 2009 team was underclassman heavy, with freshmen and sophomores competing over 80% of the team's routines, and the freshman class alone contributing to over 50% of the performances. UCLA returns all but one competitor from last year's squad and adds a strong freshman class in addition to the return of several competitors who were limited in action last year due to injuries.

The Bruins have five returning All-Americans in senior Anna Li, redshirt junior Brittani McCullough, junior Niki Tom and sophomores Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs and Vanessa Zamarripa. Li, a five-time All-American, was confined to mostly uneven bars last year due to injury, but is back as healthy and as motivated as ever and has already made a big impact in the all-around. McCullough, who had season-ending injuries in both 2007 and 2008, was incredibly successful in her first full season of competition. She hit all 30 routines she competed without a fall and earned first-team All-America honors on floor exercise, in addition to second-team All-Pac-10 acclaim on vault. Tom, a former walk-on, blossomed into a second-team All-American on floor and a first-team All-Pac-10 performer on beam last season. Hopfner-Hibbs, a 2008 Canadian Olympian, was last year's Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and earned four All-America honors last season. Zamarripa made a huge splash in 2009 with her three perfect 10s on vault and third-place all-around finish at the NCAA Championships. She earned the maximum five All-America honors, becoming only the sixth Bruin in history to achieve that honor.

In addition, the Bruins return first-team All-Pac-10 honorees Mizuki Sato (floor exercise) and Aisha Gerber (balance beam). Also back is Tauny Frattone, who is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation on vault. Frattone missed most of 2009 with an elbow injury.

Looking Ahead -- UCLA returns to Pauley Pavilion for a home dual meet against Arizona State on Sunday, Jan. 31 at 2 pm. Tickets are on sale at the UCLA Ticket Office (310-UCLA-WIN or Prices start at $6. UCLA students are free. UCLA Alumni Association Members can receive up to four complimentary tickets for this meet by showing their UCLA Alumni Association card upon entry.

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.

UCLA last hosted a NCAA Regional meet in 2001 and went on to win the NCAA Championship that year.

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. Regional tickets are included in the UCLA Gymnastics season ticket package, which costs just $45 and includes the remaining four regular season meets. To purchase season tickets, click here.

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