Tuesday, September 18

Bruin gymnastics jumps to No. 1


UCLA to begin Pac-10 competition on road against Washington as NCAA's top-ranked team

Sophomore Tauny Frattone and the UCLA gymnastics team heads to Washington for their Pac-10 opener today. Coach Valorie Kondos Field said that Frattone will be rotating into the Bruins' lineup, along with freshman Lichelle Wong.

Sophomore Tauny Frattone and the UCLA gymnastics team heads to Washington for their Pac-10 opener today. Coach Valorie Kondos Field said that Frattone will be rotating into the Bruins' lineup, along with freshman Lichelle Wong. Evan Luxenberg


After a dominant victory against Utah last Saturday, UCLA hopes to continue its winning momentum today as the No. 1 Bruins battle the No. 19 Washington Huskies in Seattle. As the first of three consecutive away meets, the dual competition marks the beginning of Pac-10 conference play for UCLA.

The Bruins are now ranked No. 1 in the nation after moving up four spots this past week. Their team total of 196.600 points against Utah was the highest score nationally last week.

The Huskies are coming off a 195.7-193.45 loss to No. 3 Nebraska in their 2010 season opener. The Bruins have won 13 straight competitions against Washington, with the Huskies’ last victory again UCLA occurring on Feb. 27, 2004 in Seattle.

Despite favorable odds for UCLA, coach Valorie Kondos Field emphasizes that it is important for her gymnasts to maintain their focus throughout the meet.

“Hopefully they can realize that tomorrow is just as important (as Utah),” Kondos Field said before Thursday’s practice. “You don’t want anybody saying you are a one-hit wonder. You got to be able to go out and do it again.”

The team’s goal against Washington remains the same as last week’s objective against Utah: hit 24 for 24 routines. “It’s really hard to do to, not to have a fall,” Kondos Field said. “If we can do that well and compete with confidence, then we can be successful.”

“We just have to keep going like we have been,” sophomore Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs said. “We have been really successful so far and we have worked really hard from last year to try and make ourselves that much better. It’s all the little things that make the biggest difference, so we just want to pay attention to them and just do our job.”

Earlier this week, Hopfner-Hibbs was named the Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week after receiving a 39.375 in the all-around against Utah, which was the highest individual all-around score in the nation. Hopfner-Hibbs, last year’s Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, also leads the nation in floor exercise.

However, Hopfner-Hibbs may not compete in the all-around against Washington due to a pulled abdominal muscle.

“She has gotten remarkably better every day. She is healing much quicker than we thought she would but we may keep her out,” Kondos Field said.

The Bruins’ lineup against Washington will be slightly different than last week’s. Kondos Field hopes to rotate in as many gymnasts who are prepared to compete as possible during Friday’s meet, specifically citing sophomore Tauny Frattone and freshman Lichelle Wong as possibly competing on beam for the first time in their collegiate careers.

“Hopefully the chemistry will remain the same, but that will be interesting to see how that works,” Kondos Field said. After last Saturday’s supportive crowd in Pauley Pavilion, Kondos Fields admits that a transition from an encouraging to a more hostile atmosphere in Seattle may be difficult for the Bruins.

“That’s always the challenge. I always tell student athletes that you have to create your own atmosphere,” she said.

“It’s your job to make yourself feel comfortable and get yourself to the right level of excitement and enthusiasm to be able to perform at your best.”

“Get that adrenaline level where you want it and keep it there regardless if there is 20 people in the stands or if there is 10,000 people in the stands or whether it’s a dual meet or the national championships. It’s all gymnastics, there is really no such thing as a big and small meet.”

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Share on Reddit

Comments are supposed to create a forum for thoughtful, respectful community discussion. Please be nice. View our full comments policy here.