Southern Utah @ UCLA Live Blog

UCLA in January. Oh, the long, strange beam rotations we’ve had. Part of the fun of watching the Bruins in January is that we know one of two things will happen: they will bring the beautiful gymnastics that have won them so many fans over the years, or they will be a disaster and provoke a satisfying Val interview after the meet. Either way we win.

In spite of how many routines they’ve lost from EHH, Gerber, and Frattone and the injury to Sam Peszek, I’m still vaguely optimistic about UCLA’s chances this season. Part of that is confidence in the coaching staff to bring along even a depleted group and the rest is confidence in the potential of the remaining gymnasts. Then, I look at this pre-Christmas intrasquad group. Take out Peszek, and there is reason for concern. It’s clear why Val thinks the team will have a slower start.

The three most important gymnasts for UCLA this season will be Mattie Larson, Lichelle Wong, and Peng Peng Lee. Obviously we won’t see Lee for a while, which makes Wong’s performances all the more vital. She must be fully recovered from her Achilles injury and finally competing up to her talent on bars and beam to make up for the lack of Lee. Larson should be the #2 AAer on this team without Peszek. She must be more than simply a mid-lineup factor in order for UCLA to have a chance this season.   

Southern Utah is also a team. Let’s find out about them together.

The meet begins at 5:00 ET/2:00 PT and may be viewed here

For UCLA, I’m looking for a hit beam rotation, six bars workers who belong and who can conceivably be at least 9.850 at some point, the degree of Mattie’s contribution, and how close the freshmen are to deserving lineup spots on their good events. Anything over 196 will be fine. If UCLA records the high score of the week (they would need a 196.600), it will be accomplished on the back of Zamarripa. I’d love to see her with a bit faster start than last year when she was still recovering.

The pre-meet festivities will be lengthy as always. 2:00 really means 8:25.

UCLA intros time. Peszek with her big boot. Sad. Looking forward to seeing Danusia compete for the first time in NCAA. She’s going to need to be one of my new favorites.

Rotation 1:
Glad that Sam Peszek is helping with the broadcast. Alyssa Pritchett is in the vault lineup and Baer is going 5th. This is the new normal (?) Oh dear. Sam is already pretending that her injury is making the team better. Good girl. Stay on message.

Sawa in for Pritchett now on vault suddenly? According to the new lineup. Always changes for UCLA after the warmup.

UCLA vault: McDonald, Sawa, Wong, Courtney, Baer, Zamarripa

McDonald – UCLA – VT – Yfull, a bit of bent legs and a hop back. Fine. (9.750)

Amor – SUU – UB – good jaeger, misses handstand on low bar, but the difficulty is there. Larger step forward on the DLO. (9.675)

Sawa – UCLA – VT – extremely low and very little flight, hop forward. Not great.  (9.600)

Bernier – SUU – UB -short on handstands, leg separation on the girenger, otherwise clean, 2/1 dismount with a hop. (9.775)

Wong – UCLA – VT – horrible vault, missed her block and got no distance or height. Hand down. UCLA is starting quite poorly in this meet. (9.475- apparently the hand only brushed or didn’t touch at all, but I kind of think it did.)

Jaworski – SUU – UB – good between the bars gienger, big leg separation on the bail hs, step back on the tuck full dismount. (9.625)

Courntey – UCLA – VT – Better than anything we’ve seen so far, obviously. Not her absolute best, step backward, but fine. (9.875 – maybe a bit of a pity score there, but it was a good vault)

Anyone else lose the feed? Apparently yes, everyone did. Talk amongst yourselves about how poorly UCLA was vaulting there. Armijo got a 9.725 on bars.

Baer – UCLA – VT – needs more height, hop back, her usual 9.800 (9.800)

Chernoch – SUU – UB – very low jaeger, pak, the handstands aren’t there, a bit flippy on the DLO with a step back. (9.775)

Zamarripa – UCLA – VT – She needs about an 11. Does her yhalf on, half off, which is going to score a bit lower for her right now. Very piked and a hop back. Shouldn’t be a huge score, but she’s Vanessa. (9.825)

Click – SUU – UB – clearly the best of the group, methodical on the inverted giants, hop forward after the double tuck dismount. (9.850)

Pritchett will do exhibition after she was taken out of the lineup after the warmup. We can see why. Very low amplitude on yfull and a thousand steps out. Kennedy will do a bars exhibitoion for SUU, missing every handstand by a lot. Bynum also doing exhibition on vault, just a Y layout so that she can do something, I guess. Participation award exhibition.

After 1 Rotation: UCLA 48.850, SUU 48.800
What a dire vault rotation that was. I know you lost some routines, but come on. McDonald was the same as she was in exhibition last year, but now she has to be in the lineup. Sawa wasn’t ready, and Wong missed her vault totally (which happens to her too often). For now, the choice for Zamarripa’s vault is clearly lowering the team score by about a tenth. They’re really feeling that none of these healthy freshmen are vaulters.

Rotation 2:
UCLA to bars. Improvement is necessary. I wonder what kind of handstands we’re going to see.

UCLA bars: Francis, Courtney, Wong, De Jesus, Larson, Zamarripa.

I bit surprised to see Sophina on bars. I haven’t seen a bars routine from her in such a long time. OK Mattie, you need this start to the season to be special.

Divino – SUU – VT – Y full, very low, step forward, similar to Sawa’s. (9.500)

Francis – UCLA – UB – this is not as much her event, shaposh with a leg separation, near stick on the double pike dismount. Good routine, form breaks certainly, but she has improved on this event. (9.775 – fair, good start)

Armijo – SUU – VT – round off full, back tuck, love to see that but a lack of amplitude and a step back.

Courtney – UCLA – UB – good shaposh to bail hs, slightly past on one handstand but no bit deal, still no same bar release, good tuck full dismount. This rotation is looking better. (9.825)

Kennedy – SUU – VT – handspring tuck half – good vault, should be their best so far, low chest and a hop to the side. (9.675 – I think it was better than that.)

Wong – UCLA – UB – She needs to be a contrtibutor here, I’m interested in what dismount she has, good hs t start, nice jaeger (toes), strong bail hs, this is better composition thn last year. Great DLO. Yes, this is the routine she’s needed for four years. Good job. (9.900)

Bernier – SUU – VT – ro full as well with a back tuck, low but fine. (9.750)

De Jesus – UCLA – UB – missed a first handstand, big leg break on the gienger, another slightly short handstand, not a super solid routine. Step back on tuck full. Probably lowest score yet. (9.900 – preposterous, do my eyes not work? Tell me if I’m insane.)

Amor – SUU – VT – Yfull, good in the air, but low landing and a notable step. Should be in line with the other scores.

Larson – UCLA – UB – good bail hs, low tkatchev as always but hit, slight hop in place on the DLO. It was better than De Jesus’s routine, so if that’s any indication . . . (9.875)

They’re all remarking with amazement about a vault I didn’t see. Show us what is happening.

Zamarripa – UCLA – UB – handstands great as always, I don’t like the clear hip out of shaposh, minor leg separation on the bail hs as always, good tkatchev, huge stumble on the DLO, otherwise it would have been a great score. (9.800)

Exhibition Yfull for SUU, looked good – should have been in the lineup.  They showed us the interesting vault, just a brush on the table instead of a block is what they were talking about.

De Jesus and Wong win bars. I need to see the De Jesus routine again because I feel like I’m taking crazy pills. I would have given it a 9.750. Craddock does an OK exhibtion with a very late giant full turn. Great hs front pike in exhibition for SUU. Their exhibitions are better than their competition routines.

After 2 Rotations: UCLA 98.150, SUU 97.400 
There is plenty to say about the judging of that bars rotation, but it was clearly a massive improvement over vault for UCLA. The freshmen can contribute here (which was one of my major questions). Zamarripa, Larson, and Wong all can be regularly 9.9s if they continue as they are.

Rotation 3:

UCLA beam: Baer, Wong, Francis, De Jesus, Larson, Zamarripa
This is the lineup I was hoping for on this event, more or less. Good scoring potential here, but also are they going to hit? I have some serious concerns about that. Sam Peszek is shilling for Adidas, etc.
Darren’s pronunciation of Alyssa is driving me crazy as always.

Baer – UCLA – BB – good switch side, right on, that’s her best skill, a bit uncertain on the side somi but balances it out well, popa with a little shuffle but well done, this is a great leadoff, but let’s watch the dismount. A little off line on her loso to dismount but stick with staggered feet. Good start. (9.775)

Jaworski – SUU – FX – lands her 2.5 punch front OOB, but no flag. OK. front layout + front layout full. We have no music, but I thinks that’s an issue with the broadcast not the arena. stumble out of the front full. (9.625)

Wong – UCLA – BB – tentative in her leaps but great psoitions, I wouldn’t credit her aerial + bhs connection but she tried to fake it, wobble on switch side, very nervous routine, wobble on full turn, sits 1.5 dismount. Probably shouldn’t have fallen. Not a good routine.(9.275)

Trejo – SUU – FX – double back mount, more confident in the tumbling than the first rotuine, barely gets her front tuck around out of the dismount. Yes, Allison, you could tell she was underrotated. (9.700)

Francis – UCLA – BB – tough situation to start a beam career, but this is what she does. minor wobble on leaps to start. Good aerial +bhs connection. Hits a little bit of a tentaive L turn. She’s capable of more difficulty that I’d like to see eventually. Good lift on her loso + back full dismount. Solid job. (9.800)

Armijo – SUU – FX – Good rudi on the mount, if only we could actually hear the music. Very low on her tuck front full on the dismount, not sure if it was supposed to be tucked or if she just had to save it. Very low. (9.675)

De Jesus – UCLA – BB – good aerial + bhs + loso with a minor wobble at the end, another bobble, this is a nervy routine (.050 on every acro skill) but she’s getting through it. Front handspring into a front 1.5 tuck dismount, which is unusual but not necessarily the most elegant dismount. (9.800)

Click – SUU – FX – front 1.5 to loso mount, lands the loso completely OOB. And I was so ready to congratulate her loso, bounces forward out of the second pass. Deductions abound in this routine. Front layout + front tuck full, another bounce forward out of it.

Larson – UCLA – BB – lovely flexibility on mount, major break on her her dance elements but she holds on, good amplitude on loso. Nowhere close on front aerial, has to come off. UCLA couldn’t really get through the first meet without counting a beam fall, could they? gainer back pike dismount, unexpected. (9.175)

Amor – SUU – FX – fine double pike to start, first one we’ve seen from SUU, front layout + front full, slightly underrotated but just a step to control it, low chest on double back dismount but fine. (9.800) 

Zamarripa – UCLA – BB – Already counting a fall, can’t count two. Beautfiful on the Onodi, minor pause in her aerial, loso connection but nothing real. No significant deductions here, good double full dismount with minor movement. Should be the best score of the rotation. Clearly the class of the beam group in both form and confidence. (9.875)

Chernoch – SUU – FX – major bounce out of rudi on the mount, a lot of slightly underrotated layouts in these middle passes. Tuck front 1.5 on the dismount, not around all the way and a step to the side.

Sawa will exhibition on beam, slight wobbles on dance, bhs full has a little trouble but completes the skill and stays on, stuck 1.5 dismount. We’ll probably see her on this event this year. Fall for SUU in exhibition. Craddock also doing exhibition, wobble on front aerial, methodical work but nice form overall, gainer full dismount which we never see from UCLA. Solid. 

After 3 Rotations: UCLA 146.675, SUU 145.900
Not a dire beam rotation in terms of future potential. This group will be good at some point. Wong and Larson were clearly tentative, Mattie looking almost resigned, but Francis and De Jesus will be important additions to the lineup.

As long as UCLA doesn’t count any more falls, they will win, which shouldn’t even really have been an issue. SUU on pace for a good score, though. For a bid to make Regionals, this is a keeper. 

UCLA floor: Francis, McDonald, De Jesus, Pritchett, Courtney, Zamarripa. Looking forward to seeing Danusia and Sophina. Interesting that McDonald made this lineup, otherwise it’s about what we expected. Hopefully Larson can come in at some point, but who knows these days?

Rotation 4:

Trejo – SUU – BB – some minor wobbles here and there but a hit routine, 1.5 dismount with a step forward. (9.750)

No Francis now? Boo.

McDonald – UCLA – FX – jams the double pike landing a bit and bounces out of it, I like this routine overall, and it should score pretty well. Rudi dismount is fine, just like everything about this routine. May not make the lineup eventually, but it’s fine for now. (9.850)

Jaworski – SUU – BB – wobble on her ro + loso, not really hitting these dance elements, similar step forward on her 1.5. (9.675)

Bynum – UCLA – FX – It’s like the walk-on brigade today. Why did she exhibition vault with a nothing if she was ready on floor? Fine double pike to start – good power in her tumbling. This is an unremarkable routine choreographically, and completely misses her double tuck dismount. Hands down. (9.225)

Kennedy – SUU – BB – major wobble on full turn, not really hitting her positions on dance, but it was a good fr. aerial + fr. aerial. Best 1.5 dismount so far. (9.800)

De Jesus – UCLA – FX -a little low on the double pike, I wish we could hear the music because this routine is a strong one, good double tuck, sloppy on her dance skills, 1.5 + layout dismount. Good hit. (9.825)

Chernoch – SUU – BB – good L turn, no problems with loso series, doesn’t hit the position on her straddle, another who is much more comfortable with her acro, good 1.5. (9.775)

Prtichett – UCLA – FX – Usual tuck full mount, 1.5 to layout is strong, slight bounce out of the double pike. That should be similar to that 9.850s she put up last year. (9.900)

Click – SUU – BB – they’re all very confident in these routines, minor wobbles but none of the tentativeness UCLA had in some routines, nice front to one foot, sticks gainer full. (9.875)

Courtney – UCLA – FX – perfect double arabian, one of the best she’s done, love that 1.5 + front .5 + layout. What is this choregraphy? Not necessarily in a bad way, just . . . so there’s that. Hits double tuck as well. Better than Pritchett’s 9.900. (9.925)

Armijo – SUU – BB – nice attitude turn, comes off on a side aerial, but they won’t have to count it.

Zamarripa – UCLA – FX – She can get them to 196 with a good hit, slightly low on the double pike landing, which she didn’t really need to be. No other problems in the routine at all, so I expect another big score that should help UCLA to that 196 level. Another 9.9? Survived floor. (9.975 – let’s not get carried away, OK judges? Are we good?)

Final Score: UCLA 196.150 SUU 194.875

The final three rotations for UCLA were about what I expected. They will be disappointed by the beam fall, but I would be more disappointed by that vault rotation, which looked too sparse to be getting on with. Multiple people still need to come in on that event for it to be anywhere near the level of the better teams (or even the average teams). There were the usual charitable UCLA home scores that I’m sure will provoke discussion, but I’m just pleased we didn’t see a full meet that followed the quality of that vault rotation.

Floor was the strongest event for UCLA, and I was particularly pleased with Courtney because that was one of if not the best routine she has done. I’d love to see Francis and Larson go, but otherwise this rotation is in a healthy position, along with bars and beam (probably).  

7 thoughts on “Southern Utah @ UCLA Live Blog”

  1. Any thoughts on Kentucky this season? They scored a 195+ opening weekend, which is much better than many teams ranked higher than them in pre-season. Could they have the potential to ever join the top group of teams?


  2. I haven't seen Kentucky yet this season, but joining the top group of teams? Not soon. They don't have the depth of scores over 9.800. Team scores in the first week are notoriously all over the place, but some of the teams that scored quite low over the weekend are going to have higher ceilings once they work out lineups and gain consistency.

    Still, low 195s while counting a fall on beam is a fine opening score for the program. If they can keep on this pace and improve consistency, score a few 196s during the year, finish in the top 18, and get a #3 seed at a Regional, that would be a victorious season for them right now.


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