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No. 8 gymnastics posts its highest single-event score this season in win over Cal State Fullerton

UCLA 197.05
Cal State Fullerton 191.05

By Patricia Lee

March 15, 2011 12:04 am

In the world of sports, the word momentum is tossed around all the time.

Heading into a crucial portion of its season, the UCLA gymnastics team has the obscure force on its side after another impressive showing.

The No. 8 Bruins easily defeated the Cal State Fullerton Titans 197.05-191.05 in Fullerton on Sunday, recording their second-highest team total of the season.

The Bruins started off their meet with a bang, with a team total of 49.575 on the vault, their first event. This score is their highest single-event score of the season as well as the highest score the Bruins received on vault since Feb. 22, 2009.

Junior Tauny Frattone has led the team in the vault for the entire season, and she lived up to her expectations with a meet-high score of 9.95 on the vault, which tied her career-high.

“I think it was really important to start off strong,” Frattone said. “Everybody felt good going into vaults today. They had a really good crowd and it was energetic.”

Freshman Olivia Courtney and redshirt senior Brittani McCullough each scored a 9.90 on the vault and junior Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs tied Frattone with a career-high-tying 9.95 on the vault. Hopfner-Hibbs also won the all-around again for the fourth time this season.

“It feels amazing,” Hopfner-Hibbs said. “We knew we’ve been capable of a big score like this all season, and it finally came together, which is a really great feeling. We’re super excited, and it’s great ending on a high note going into the offseason.”

The Bruins earned the top score in every event, and now have two things to look forward to: championship season and finals. Coach Valerie Kondos Field knows her team can handle the pressure.

“We need to make sure that we’re resting them but also working on the details that we need to clean up in order to win another national championship,” Kondos Field said. “Hopefully, they’ll look at the gym as a vacation.”

This vacation will be short-lived, as UCLA’s championship season begins on March 19 at Pauley Pavilion with the Pac-10 Championships.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to go out with a bang,” Frattone said. “It’ll be good to have our send-off with Pauley and its amazing crowd.”

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Patricia Lee
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