UCLA Spotlight




National Championship for Gymnastics

  • Published Apr 26, 2010 11:27 AM
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Way back on January 9, there were signs. A blue-clad crowd filled Pauley Pavilion with cheers for the first gymnastics meet of the season. Even 99-year-old basketball legend John Wooden, the team's mentor and devoted fan, insisted on attending in person. And when the Bruins upset Utah, Coach Valorie Kondos Field had this to say about her team: "What they did was make a statement that we're back and ready to contend for the national championship."

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Brittani McCullough during the Pac-10 season

Contend they certainly did, winning 8 of their eleven meets and the Pac-10 championship. But even Coach Val could not have foreseen how well her Bruins would perform in Florida at the Super Six, the final competition for the national championship. Starting out on vault, they proceeded to win three of the four events with a total score of 197.725. Oklahoma, the second place finisher, trailed the Bruins by 0.475 - an impressive margin in a sport where every fraction of a point is critical.

"I've never been on a team that is so much fun," said senior Anna Li. And that was after the preliminary round, when UCLA had to overcome a sluggish start in its first two events.

The gymnastics team has now won six team titles under Kondos Field. "This championship means a lot more to me than the other five did," she said, "because the other five came in such quick succession." The first championship came in 1997, followed by 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2004.

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Vanessa Zamarripa at a home meet

In addition to the team championship, two Bruins won individual titles for 2010, bringing UCLA's total to 30. Junior Brittani McCullough, a nursing student, triumphed in the floor exercise. "This is a blessing," she said. "I am very, very excited coming from the injuries I’ve had and the schedule I have had." Sophomore Vanessa Zamarripa won the vault title, saying: "Being the vault champion is a great thing, but having the team championship is far much greater than anything I did on the vault."