Wednesday, June 26

No. 1 UCLA gymnastics defeats Washington, despite bumpy routines

Senior Anna Li won both the uneven bars and balance beam in No. 1 UCLA's win at No. 19 Washington on Friday.

Senior Anna Li won both the uneven bars and balance beam in No. 1 UCLA's win at No. 19 Washington on Friday. Evan Luxenberg

When Anna Li’s feet hit the ground, something wasn’t perfect. During her first tumbling sequence, the Bruins’ sole senior landed slightly off-balance and was forced to take three steps forward to prevent a fall and a significant point deduction.

After taking a deep breath, she quickly refocused and finished the rest of her routine “flawlessly,” according to coach Valorie Kondos Field.

Li’s floor routine was just one of many bumpy routines by the Bruins Friday night against the Huskies as No. 1 UCLA (2-0, 1-0 Pac-10) handily defeated No. 19 Washington (0-2, 0-1 Pac-10) 196.125-194.875 in Seattle. However, the Bruins’ victory came with less of the energy and composure the team had shown in its previous meet.

“We should still be ranked No. 1 after this (meet), which is great but I don’t feel as if we did enough,” said Kondos Field, not completely satisfied with UCLA’s performance. “We still could have done better than we did. It wasn’t performances as much as it was commitment to discipline and commitment to energy.”

Li, who won both the uneven bars and balance beam, echoed her coach’s sentiments.

“I think the team did a great job. We fought really hard, but we also know that we have a lot to work on,” she said. “Right now we are ready to go back home and train. We all know that we still have a lot to improve.”

UCLA had higher team totals than Washington in all events except beam, where the Huskies outscored the Bruins 48.650-48.575. UCLA struggled during its final rotation of the night and had to count a fall in its team score after both junior Niki Tom and sophomore Tauny Frattone fell on beam.

The best way for the Bruins to prevent another fall?

“Going back in the gym, training, and making sure that everything is in check,” Frattone said. “Hopefully, things like that don’t happen again. People go through ups and downs, but I just have to make sure that I’m training right, keeping everything calm, and not getting ahead of myself.”

Frattone had a good share of ups and downs herself throughout the competition. Impressive performances on vault and floor, including a career-high 9.925 on vault, offset the mistakes on beam for Frattone in her first all-around competition.

“It’s a completely different experience than just doing one event,” said Frattone. “I liked being able to get back out there and show everybody what I can do on all the other events not just vault.”

Frattone and Li were the only two Bruins to compete in the all-around, as UCLA significantly changed its lineup for the competition. Junior Allison Taylor made her 2010 competition debut on uneven bars with a solid 9.775, after having performed the routine in an exhibition performance during last week’s meet. Freshman Lichelle Wong competed on vault for the first time, earning a 9.750.

Li’s quick recovery on floor exercise was one of the highlights of the competition, according to Kondos Field.

“It is a huge milestone for her,” Kondos Field said. “That’s what you do for a team, and it is how you build the trust of your team. Her team can now trust her that even if she makes mistakes, she is not going to throw the rest of the routine away.”

Li agreed, adding that she thinks she came back “really strong” from nearly falling during her floor routine.

“Right after I landed a little short on my first pass, I told myself that it was just in the past, and I had to finish strong and every point counts,” she said.

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