Saturday, January 25

UCLA gymnastics place first at IGI/Chicago Style NCAA Invitational

Senior Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs had a shaky performance on beam but rebounded with a 9.875 on floor.

Blaine Ohigashi

The Windy City tried to knock down the Bruins, but to no avail.

Despite injuries and other hiccups, the No. 7 UCLA gymnastics team came in first at the IGI/Chicago Style NCAA Invitational over No. 15 Boise State, No. 18 Missouri and No. 19 Illinois with a score of 196.850. Boise State came in second with a 196.025, Missouri third with a 195.525, and Illinois fourth with a 195.1.

The Bruins were slightly shorthanded as their top vaulter, Vanessa Zamarripa tweaked her ankle during warmups and several gymnasts felt under the weather, but that did not falter their performance as Zamarripa’s teammates performed well to make up for her loss.

“We were a really strong team on Friday,” said senior Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs. “We made some mistakes so there’s definitely room for improvement, but we stuck together the entire time, which was really helpful for everybody to keep the energy up and keep having fun.”

Hopfner-Hibbs did not have her best performance on the beams but she made up for it on the floor where she earned a 9.875.

Sophomore Olivia Courtney had a great match as the tied her season-high on vault and winning the event with a 9.925. She also won bars by tying her career-high 9.9.

“Going into the meet I was just focusing on making everything normal,” Courtney said.

The Bruins were up by a slim margin of 0.35 going into their final rotation, with Boise State right on their heels. The Bruins took over on the floor to take the first place title. Redshirt junior Alyssa Pritchett won the event for the second time this year, tying her career-high 9.9.

“I had no idea about the score going into the last rotation so I didn’t even realize how close it was,” Courtney said. “Everybody was pretty confident going into the floor.”

The Bruins had to overcome a shaky warmup to snag the victory. Coach Valorie Kondos Field cited bad warmups as the reason for the Bruins’ season low of 194.6 at Washington.

“Since Washington we had a wake-up call and we were able to prepare better and prepare ourselves for unforseen circumstances like illness or injury,” Kondos Field said.

Even with late substitutions and lineup changes, even during the match itself, the Bruins overcame their adversities as a team.

“We had to prepare nine girls on every event, letting them know to be ready emotionally and physically to compete at any given moment,” Kondos Field said. “These last few weekends we had to substitute people in at the last minute and they did very well with it.”

Even though the Bruins did not have an ideal Friday going into the match, they weathered the storm, and came out on top in the Windy City.

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