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UCLA gymnasts seek consistency to reach 197 score

By Taylor Aquino

February 14, 2014 2:02 am

Every pointed toe and perfect handstand counts during a meet, and as the UCLA gymnastics team travels to compete against the University of Washington Huskies this weekend, the gymnasts will focus on nailing each element in every performance.

One of the team’s goals is to attain a total score of 197, and in order to reach this goal, the team must consistently hit all of their routines.

The Bruins have had difficulties in past meets maintaining consistency, and while last week’s meet against Arizona State ended with a season-high score of 196.925, it also exposed the team’s weaknesses on bars, beam and floor.

“It’s been a bit frustrating because … we’ve been trying to hit 197, and we have so much potential but we’re not all doing it at the same time in our meets,” said sophomore Sophina DeJesus.

DeJesus said she is focusing on perfecting the smaller details in her routines, such as hitting all of her handstands on bars, and added that the whole team needs to work on sticking dismounts and individual training needs.

In addition to refining her skills, DeJesus has brought new skills to the gym in an effort to help the team after freshman Angi Cipra sustained a heel injury that will render her unable to compete indefinitely.

DeJesus has stepped up to compete on vault since Cipra, who is a regular on the vault roster, is sidelined. DeJesus said she vaulted when she competed on a club team and hopes to assist the team in that event eventually.

Coach Valorie Kondos Field said it is eye-opening to see members of the team take on more responsibility if their teammates are injured.

“It’s always deflating when you get an injury like Angi, not knowing when she’s going to be back,” Kondos Field said. “The interesting thing is that when your numbers start getting depleted, people start stepping up and taking more responsibility for what they’re able to do.”

As some gymnasts are looking out for their teammates, others are making sure they are meeting their own potential.

Redshirt junior Samantha Peszek is recuperating from her Achilles injury and said she is still trying to keep the quantity of her performances low in order to prevent her injury from flaring up again.

“The name of the game is just trying to keep my body healthy, and just to stay healthy the rest of the season,” Peszek said. “If I’m healthy and my mind is fresh, then I can do all my gymnastics successfully.”

Peszek’s few performances have certainly not been lacking in quality. Last week, she earned a perfect 10 on her bars and a 9.95 on beam, for which she was awarded the Pac-12 Special Performance of the Week honor.

Peszek’s high-scoring routines have helped the team earn points at pivotal moments this season, and her role as a consistently top-notch performer will be necessary for the team as it moves forward.

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Taylor Aquino
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