Competing on the road is difficult for any team, as the road lacks the comfort of one’s own bed and the energy of the home crowd.
But No. 4 UCLA gymnastics was unfazed by its trek up to Palo Alto to take on No. 11 Stanford, which it won 196.925-196.200. This victory makes UCLA 4-0 on the season.
“This was a really good experience for us. When we are at home, there is the crowd whose energy you feed off, so when you are away, all of the energy you have to feed off is your team,” said coach Valorie Kondos Field. “I was so proud of them that they continue to stay focused and not let anything get to them.”
On uneven bars, seniors Vanessa Zamarripa and Lichelle Wong led the Bruins with scores of 9.850, followed by freshman Sophina DeJesus, who scored a 9.825.
The Cardinal started the meet on vault, earning a 49.2. They led the Bruins at the end of the first rotation.
Stanford’s lead did not shake UCLA – in fact, the team wasn’t even aware of it.
“We focus on the points rather than the score. They didn’t know if we were ahead or behind and that didn’t matter,” Kondos Field said.
This mindset worked for the Bruins, as they took the lead after the next rotation and maintained it for the duration of the meet.
Junior Olivia Courtney’s and Zamarripa’s strong performances helped push UCLA into the lead, with Courtney scoring a 9.875 and Zamarripa earning a perfect 10 on vault from the judges.
It was Zamarripa’s seventh career perfect 10 on vault and her first 10 of the season.
On floor, UCLA had performances from several gymnasts, including sophomore Sadiqua Bynum, who scored a career-high 9.825.
UCLA finished the meet on balance beam, with impressive performances by several gymnasts. Their strength made up for sophomore Mattie Larson’s fall from the beam, which earned her only a 9.325.
Freshman Danusia Francis’ 9.925, which tied her career-high, earned her first for the event.
“I’ve been doing well on balance beam so there is more pressure on me to perform. To go out there, and get the highest, was such a great feeling,” Francis said of her event win.
Zamarripa won all-around with a score of 39.675. She also took first on both vault (10) and floor (9.925).
“It felt really good. I was excited about this one (vault) because before I left I visualized it and what I envisioned in my head was exactly what I did,” Zamarripa said.
As her strong performance shows, Zamarripa didn’t let the adverse surroundings hamper her performance – or her enthusiasm.
“When I tore my Achilles, I didn’t get a chance to compete, so being able to be out there at all. I am so thankful and appreciative to get the opportunity,” Zamarripa said. “Either being at home or away, I feel blessed and excited to compete.”