Wednesday, April 24

W. gym off and running with


W. gym off and running with

win over Cal State Fullerton

Freshmen pave the way in first meet of season

By Esther Hui

Daily Bruin Senior Staff

UCLA women’s gymnastics made several statements in its season
opening win against Cal State Fullerton (190.325-190.025) Friday
night.

First, the Bruins have a new star in freshman Stella Umeh, who
won the all-around (39.050), beam (9.875) and floor exercise
(9.725) in her first collegiate competition.

Second, the Bruins bettered last year’s first meet team score by
almost two points, and made it through the first meet without any
injuries, showing that mentally and physically they are prepared
for a successful, competitive season.

"It was a great first meet for us," UCLA head coach Valerie
Kondos said. "I was surprised and pleased at how well it went.
There were falls, but they were good falls because the gymnasts
weren’t holding back."

One standout performance came from freshman Andrea Fong, who
started the Bruin lineup on vault with a 9.725, a markedly high
score for the lead-off athlete. But the most solid performance was
from Umeh, who won three events, as well as placing second in the
uneven bars (9.700), despite having just recently recovered from a
herniated disc.

"We saw a lot of new things from the freshmen," Kondos said.
"(Fong’s) score on vault is incredible for a first vaulter. (Umeh)
is in a lot of pain but once she’s on the event you’d never know
it."

Senior Kareema Marrow has not fully recovered from the effects
of scar tissue in her right ankle. The injury kept her from
practicing until late December, which allowed her to compete only
on uneven bars.

Sophomore Leah Homma, last year’s Pac-10 all-around champion,
placed third in the all-around behind Umeh and Fullerton’s Cristi
Clifford with a 38.200. Homma also tied for first on vault and
third on the floor. Bruin uneven bar specialist Megan Fenton won
the event with a 9.750, but surprised the Bruins with a 9.80 on a
vault she had never competed.

Fenton’s vault supported the entire performance of the maverick
Bruin team, which had originally approached the meet as a chance to
compete solidly, but finished the weekend with highly competitive
scores.

"The gymnasts were pulling things out of nowhere. It usually
takes at least three meets to get them to compete aggressively, but
this meet they competed really hard, they weren’t afraid ­ not
frightened at all," Kondos said.

"We did well for our first meet," Marrow said. "Especially
considering how we did at last year’s first meet. If we can keep
the consistency, I don’t doubt we’ll move up in the rankings."

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