UCLA Gymnasts Host NCAA Regionals Saturday With NCAA Berths At Stake

April 7, 2010

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Weekly Update

This Week -- Third-ranked UCLA (19-3) hosts the NCAA Regionals on Saturday, Apr. 10. The Los Angeles Regional will take place in Pauley Pavilion at 6 pm. Also competing in the meet are Arkansas, Iowa State, Arizona, BYU and Arizona State. The top two teams and the top two all-around competitors not from an advancing team from the regional will receive a berth in the NCAA Championships, which will be held in Gainesville, FL Apr. 22-24. In addition, individual event winners who did not already qualify with their team or as an all-arounder will advance.

Tickets -- Tickets for the Regional Championships can be purchased in advance at the UCLA Central Ticket Office (310/UCLA-WIN or tickets.ucla.edu). Adult admission is $14 for lower level reserved seating and $10 for mid-level general admission seating. Youth/UCLA student prices are $10 for the lower-level seats and $8 for mid-level seating.

Live Coverage -- UCLA will provide a free live video and audio broadcast on UCLA All-Access, with Darren Preston, Michael Sondheimer and Naomi Manea providing the call. Live stats will also be available at UCLABruins.com.

Rotation Order -- The Bruins will begin the meet on a bye before floor and will finish up on balance beam. Iowa State begins on vault, Arizona starts on a bye before bars, Arizona State begins on bars, BYU stars on beam and Arkansas starts on floor.

Regional Championship History -- The Bruins have won 17 regional titles, their last coming in 2007. Last season in Iowa, UCLA placed second to Florida for the second consecutive year. Anna Li has won the uneven bars title at each of the last three Regionals.

Last Year At Regionals -- UCLA qualified to the NCAA Championships for the 25th time after placing second at the NCAA North Central Regional in Iowa City, IA. The Bruins were a close second to first-place Florida, scoring 196.625 to the Gators' 196.775. Iowa State placed third with a 195.650. UCLA rebounded from a slow start, scoring 49.425s on its last two events, floor and vault. The Bruins stood in third place at the halfway point but rallied with huge scores on their best two events to claim second place by just .150. Vanessa Zamarripa posted the Bruins' best all-around total, placing third with a 39.4. Anna Li won the uneven bars title for the third-straight year, scoring 9.9.

A Look At The Regional Field - Arkansas is the No. 2 seed in the Regional and is ranked No. 9 in the nation. The Razorbacks have posted a season-high score of 197.025. Last season, Arkansas advanced to the NCAA Super Six for the first time in school history and finished fifth. The Razorbacks have three All-Americans on the squad - Casey Jo Magee, Sarah Nagashima and Jamie Pisani. Magee ranks fourth in the nation in the all-around and second on beam. Iowa State is the No. 3 seed and ranks 17th nationally. The Cyclones have a season-high mark of 196.225. In their last competition, the Cyclones placed fourth at the Big 12 Championships, with Celine Paulus placing fourth in the all-around. Arizona is the No. 4 seed and holds a national ranking of 21st. The Wildcats had a strong performance at the Pac-10 Championships, finishing fourth and going 24-for-24 with a score of 195.875. No. 5 seed and 26th-ranked BYU recorded a season-high 195.825 in its last meet at Utah and is averaging 194.2 on the year. Sixth-seeded and 32nd-ranked Arizona State holds a season high of 195.9 but is coming off a seventh-place finish at the Pac-10 Championships. Junior Mary Atkinson ranks 23rd in the nation in the all-around and boasts a season-high of 39.5.

Also competing at Regionals are nine individual competitors - five all-arounders (Cal State Fullerton's Alaina Baker, San Jose State's Lily Swann, UC Davis' Tanya Ho and Katie Yamamura, and Sacramento State's Eryn Stubblefield) and four individual event specialists (Sacramento State's Nicole Meiller on vault, UC Davis' Lida Gehlen on bars, Sacramento State's Cayla Boyce on beam, and San Jose State's Gabrielle Targosz on floor).

In The Rankings -- UCLA finishes 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).

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 23 individual victories - seven on beam, six in the all-around, 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 Ending For Li -- UCLA's last competitor at the Pac-10 Championships was senior Anna Li on the uneven bars. In her final Pac-10 routine of her career, Li finally reached perfection, scoring a perfect 10 for the first time ever. The Bruin senior had scored 10s before, but only from one of two judges, earning 9.975 on two separate occasions. This time, it was unanimous from all four judges, giving Li her second consecutive Pac-10 uneven bars crown and her third individual title in her four year career.

McCullough Floors The Competition -- Redshirt junior Brittani McCullough can now add Pac-10 floor exercise champion to her resume, claiming a share of the title with a career-high tying 9.925 at the conference championships. McCullough, the 2008 Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year, was a first-team All-American on floor last season and is averaging 9.865 on the event this year, with five scores of 9.9 or higher. She earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors on floor and second-team on vault.

Seven Bruins Named To All-Pac-10 Team -- A conference-best seven Bruins were named to the 2010 Pac-10 All-Conference team. Leading the way was Pac-10 Gymnast of the Year Vanessa Zamarripa, who earned first-team honors in the all-around for the second consecutive year. Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs earned first-team honors on all three events in which she competed at Pac-10s - vault, beam and floor. Pac-10 bars champion Anna Li earned first-team honors on bars and vault, while Pac-10 floor co-champion Brittani McCullough received first-team acclaim on floor and second-team honors for the second consecutive year on vault.

Receiving Pac-10 honors for the first time were sophomore Tauny Frattone, a first-team honoree on vault, and freshman Lichelle Wong, a first-team honoree on bars. Sophomore Aisha Gerber was named to the all-conference team on beam for the second-straight year, this year receiving second-team honors.

Five Earn Pac-10 All-Academic Honors -- Five UCLA gymnasts were named to the Pac-10 All-Academic gymnastics team for 2010 - second-team honorees Aisha Gerber and Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs and honorable mention selections Mizuki Sato, Allison Taylor and Niki Tom. Gerber and Hopfner-Hibbs are first-time honorees in their first year of eligibility, compiling cumulative GPAs of 3.62 and 3.41, respectively. Sato and Tom are repeat honorable mention selections, while Taylor is a first-time honoree.

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 12 meets, the Bruins have hit 69 of 72 bar routines, with 51 routines scoring 9.8 or higher and 19 routines scoring 9.9 or higher. Two Bruins are averaging 9.9 or higher - Anna Li (9.928) and Vanessa Zamarripa (9.916), while two others average 9.8 or higher - Monique De La Torre (9.858) and Brittani McCullough (9.806). UCLA averages 49.263 on the event, with a high of 49.55 set vs. Stanford. 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 scored put up marks of 49.65 at Georgia (third-highest beam score in UCLA history), 49.375 at Cal State Fullerton, 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.

High-Scoring Zamarripa -- Sophomore Vanessa Zamarripa has been racking up big scores this season for the Bruins. Twenty-eight of her 41 routines have scored 9.9 or higher, including a perfect 10 on vault and a 9.975 on beam, and she has scored 39.575 or better in the all-around in five of her last six all-around attempts, with first-place showings in each of those five meets. Zamarripa scored a career-high 39.7 in the all-around on Mar. 27. 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 - 9.904 on vault, 9.916 on bars, 9.885 on beam and 9.844 on floor. Her all-around average of 39.579 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 35 of her routines this season without a fall, and four others having hit all but one routine. Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs is 28-for-29 and 43 of her last 44 dating back to last year. Brittani McCullough is 31-for-32 on the year and has hit 61 of her last 62 routines without a fall. Vanessa Zamarripa is 40-for-41 this season and has hit 56 of her last 57 routines without a fall. Aisha Gerber is 24-for-25 on the year.

Li's All-Around Excellence -- Senior Anna Li has made a triumphant return to all-around competition, scoring 39+ in all seven of her all-around attempts, with a high of 39.575 set twice and two other scores above 39.4. Li, who had not gone all-around since 2008 due to injuries, has three all-around wins in seven meets. She is averaging 39.404 and ranks 13th nationally. Li is second on the team with 13 individual victories this season and has won bars in eight of the nine meets in which she has competed, with a 10, 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.

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.

3 Times Ten -- Senior Anna Li and sophomores Vanessa Zamarripa and Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs have each scored a perfect 10 this season, all on the road on different events. 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. The three 10s this year mark the first time a Bruin team has scored a 10 on three or more events since 2004. UCLA has now recorded a total of 93 perfect 10s in school history.

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