Thursday, June 20

W. gym hoping for fast start in season opener


W. gym hoping for fast start in season opener

By Esther Hui

Daily Bruin Senior Staff

The UCLA women’s gymnastics team will travel to Cal State
Fullerton tonight for the first dual meet of the season. The Bruins
beat the Titans twice last year, and they have eight returning
letter-winners from the 1994 team. However, UCLA head coach Valerie
Kondos stresses that the team’s goal isn’t to win but to set the
stage for the rest of the season.

"Our goal is to get out and compete and start the season out
confidently," Kondos said. "We’ve watered down the routines a
little, so the gymnasts are ready to compete the routines they
have. But we feel they need to be confident with what they’re
performing."

One reason the Bruins are aiming for a solid performance is to
prove that the injuries of senior Kareema Marrow and freshman
Stella Umeh are behind them. Marrow, who placed fifth in the
all-around in last year’s NCAA Championships, spent three months
this fall in a cast with scar tissue in her ankle before resuming
practice just before winter break. Marrow will compete in vault and
bars for the Bruins.

Umeh, considered by Kondos to be one of the best gymnasts in the
country, was out of practice in the fall with a herniated disc, but
will debut as a Bruin tonight in the all-around. Also competing in
the all-around for the Bruins will be 1994 Pac-10 All-around
champion Leah Homma and senior Megan Fenton.

Sophomore Sunshine Smyth will sit out the season opener after
having had a chip taken out of her back.

The Bruins have also added sophomore Amy Smith, an Oklahoma
transfer who averages 9.9 on vault. Another addition for UCLA is
assistant coach Mark Cook, former club coach of Bruin Dee
Fischer.

The Bruins start the season with a seventh place national
ranking, but with a new coaching team and a new outlook, Kondos
expects great things.

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