Sunday, May 31

Gymnasts vault to perfection and season highs

Vanessa Zamarripa scored her first perfect 10 of the season on the vault Friday. Evan Luxenberg

When Vanessa Zamarripa landed cleanly on the blue landing mat after completing a Yurchenko layout full vault, she knew that she had achieved perfection. The sophomore earned herself the first 10.0 of the season and the fourth perfect score on vault of her career.

Zamarripa’s vault was one of six season-best records set by Bruin gymnasts during Friday’s competition in Fullerton, where No. 3 UCLA (9-2, 5-2) defeated Cal State Fullerton (4-6) and Utah State (1-12) with a team total of 197.250. UCLA also had season-high team totals of 49.375 and 49.45 on beam and vault, respectively, en route to its highest road mark in five years.

“I just knew (I had scored a 10) once I landed it, especially from the judges’ expressions,” Zamarripa said. “It was a really great feeling. To achieve perfection on each event is my goal, but I don’t focus on making each move perfect. I just focus on my cues and trust myself, which is what I did.”

Zamarripa, who coach Valorie Kondos Field believes “can vault better than anyone in the country,” also repeated a career-high on floor exercise with a 9.950.

The Bruins switched up the lineup against Cal State Fullerton and Utah State, competing regulars such as senior Anna Li and redshirt junior Brittani McCullough in fewer events to open up spots in the rotation for others.

Junior Talia Kushynski set a new career high of 9.850 on floor in her season debut. Despite seeing limited performance time throughout the season, junior Allison Taylor and sophomore Alyssa Pritchett also broke career records on uneven bars and floor, respectively.

“For all of the people who don’t really compete a lot, to be able to come out and hit great routines was amazing,” Kondos Field said. “They performed to their potential, which was so exciting because they train hard. … Those girls are the highlight of the evening.”

UCLA’s ability to score above 197 despite switches in the lineup highlights the depth of the team.

“It’s important for the girls who compete every weekend to know that they have other teammates who have their backs and can also perform and score well,” Kondos Field said.

In a departure from their usual rotation order, the Bruins began the competition on balance beam. The team however, did not seem affected by the different event order, hitting all six routines on the apparatus.

“Going into beam or into any event really, it’s important to be in the mindset of doing our skills anytime anywhere,” Zamarripa said. “Even if we started on a different event, we were still confident and trusted our ability and training to help us adjust.”

Kondos Field believes the experience gained during the meet from beginning a competition on beam will be valuable to UCLA as the postseason approaches because the Bruins will compete in the same event order for the Pac-10 Championships.

With only two meets remaining before NCAA regionals, UCLA’s 197.250 total against Cal State Fullerton and Utah State will boost the Bruins’ regional qualifying score and help the team remain ranked within the top three nationally. Kondos Field, however, is adamant that the team’s high score on Friday night isn’t as important as their quality performances.

“There were just so many great things that came out of this evening,” she said. “We didn’t really focus on score, we just expected everyone to go out and hit to the best of their ability, which is what they did.”

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