Senior Vanessa Zamarripa released her hands from the bar, thrust her body upwards, completed an intricate spin and stuck her landing, saluting the judges with a huge grin that had the crowd chanting for a 10.
She took first place in the all-around competition as UCLA defeated the Utah this Saturday, 197.425 to 195.300.
UCLA began the meet with vault. Sophomore Dana McDonald led the Bruins with a career-high 9.875, followed by junior Sydney Sawa with a 9.8, senior Monique De La Torre with a 9.825, junior Olivia Courtney with a 9.9, senior Kaelie Baer with a 9.875 and Zamarripa with a 9.825.
Utah began competition with the uneven bars. The Utes struggled, as two athletes fell, scoring below a 9.3. That gave the Bruins an early lead, 49.3 to 48.075.
Next up was UCLA on bars and Utah on vault. Utah showed signs of improvement, rebounding from a tough bars rotation. UCLA continued its strong performances.
Freshman Sophina DeJesus fell from the bars, but still managed to score a 9.3.
“Well at first it’s a little bit of a letdown, but then the team brought me up and made me feel confident to go back and finish strong. At the end, they were still behind me to congratulate me,” DeJesus said.
DeJesus rebounded from her minor hiccup, scoring a career-high 9.825 on beam, UCLA’s next event.
The Bruins’ final event was floor, while the Utes took the beam.
Although starting with a fall, Utah finished its rotation with respectable scores.
But, it wasn’t enough to make up the deficit the UCLA had created, especially after the Bruins’ strong showing in the floor exercise. Courtney and Zamarripa both scored 9.95, and tied for the top score in the event.
Zamarripa took first in the all-around competition for the second week in a row.
“It’s really nice to see that hard work pays off. I worked really hard over preseason and I’m happy that it shows when I compete,” Zamarripa said.
Courtney was equally pleased with her strong performances, tying with Zamarripa for first on floor and winning vault, but believes she can do better.
“It’s a really good feeling to finish first on those two events. I know there are more things I can work on so I’m not satisfied,” Courtney said.
Although Courtney was determined to post even better scores, coach Valorie Kondos Field was proud of her ability to shine in competition.
“They (Zamarripa and Courtney) are just rocks. They have a great way of reaching competitive greatness. They know how to be their best when their best is needed. I am very, very proud of them,” Kondos Field said.
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