When Valorie Kondos Field, UCLA’s women’s gymnastics coach, said that her team was going to work on the balance beam and fix the problems that they had there against Utah, she wasn’t kidding.
It was crystal clear that the hard work on that apparatus paid off against California in Berkeley this past Sunday, as the Bruins won big over their older Golden Bear sisters 196.675 – 192.55 at Haas Pavilion; five of the six UCLA gymnasts scored higher than the top Cal gymnast on beam, led by Samantha Peszek, Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs, and Lichelle Wong, who all scored 9.925.
As good as these Bruins were on beam, which was most impressive as that is historically their weakest event, they did even better on vault as all six Bruins scored higher than the top Bear scorer, with Vanessa Zamarripa providing the exclamation point with a perfect ten on that apparatus.
Here is a video clip, courtesy of YouTube, of Zamarripa’s vault:
Peszek and Kaelie Baer scored career highs on vault with a 9.925 and a 9.825
Zamarripa topped everyone in the uneven bars, earning a 9.9 to go with her perfect 10.0 on vault and showing everyone, once and for all, that she’s back. Olivia Courtney was second with a 9.8.
It was on the floor exercise that was the lone non-bright spot as UCLA had to count a fall. Hopfner-Hibbs more than made up for that, however, with her 9.9 performance which won that event, as did Peszek and Aisha Gerber, who each scored a 9.825.
Along with the perfect ten, Peszek had the other big achievement in the meet as she won the all-around for the second straight week with a score of 39.45 out of a possible 40; she’s certainly starting off the Bruins’ campaign with a bang. Freshman Mattie Larson finished third in the all-around with her 38.550 score.
Being that the floor exercise has always been the Bruins’ best event, it’s a concern that people are getting low scores there; I’m sure that Kondos Field will have her gymnasts work on their routines for their next meet.
Overall, this was a UCLA-was-supposed-to-win kind of affair, and though they need to tighten up things on the floor, it’s good to see that they remain on track as their performance on the beam was vastly improved, and their vault and bars routines remain off the hook.
NEXT OPPONENT: San Jose State Spartans, Sunday, January 22, John Wooden Center, 2:00 p.m.
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