UPDATE: UCLA advanced to the Saturday’s Super Six, tying Oklahoma for second in the evening semifinals with a 197.200. Coach Valorie Kondos Field called her team’s performance “phenomenal,” and said this was the most rewarding season of her career.
The UCLA gymnastics team will end its season this weekend at Pauley Pavilion, which is hosting its first national title event since its renovation.
To clinch the school’s 109th national championship, the sixth-seeded Bruins will first have to get out of their semifinal round at 6 p.m. (You can watch live online at NCAA.com.) If they can score in the top three of a loaded field that includes second-seeded Oklahoma and third-seeded Alabama, they’ll earn a spot in Saturday’s Super Six for a shot at their seventh title.
UCLA has little too lose after navigating an injury-riddled campaign. The team lost 2008 Olympic silver medalist Sam Peszek (Achilles) and promising freshman Christine Peng-Peng Lee (knee) before the season began, and then former world champion Mattie Larson (knee) in March.
“At this point, we just feel like it’s really natural and everything’s fun,” junior Olivia Courtney said, adding that this year’s feels like a more cohesive team. “It’s super exciting to have NCAAs hosted at Pauley. It’s just a really great feeling. Everyone’s excited. The adrenaline’s there.”
This weekend may also mark the end of senior Vanessa Zamarripa’s gymnastics career. (Story here.) The two-time Pac-12 Gymnast of the Year, ranked No. 1 in all-around and vault, is undecided about whether or not she will continue after successfully recovering from a torn Achilles two years ago.