Wednesday, April 18, 2012

NCAA Gymnastics Preview_ Vanessa Zamarripa (UCLA)

Since the NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships are set to get underway on Friday in Gwinnett, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta, we are going to profile four gymnasts from four teams which are expected to contend for a national championship.

We start with Vanessa Zamarripa, a junior from O'Fallon, Ill., who has been named PAC-12 Gymnast of the Week, UCLA Athlete of the Week and PAC-12 Specialist of the Week during the 2012 season.

Zamarripa was named PAC-12 Gymnast of the Week and UCLA Athlete of the Week for week of Feb. 20-26, thanks to her outstanding 39.625 all-around title in a win over Arizona State. Zamarripa won a second UCLA Athlete of the Week title later in the season after garnering a 39.575 to help UCLA win a PAC-12 title during the conference championships in Salt Lake City, Utah, edging out the home team Utah.

At two intervals in 2012, Zamarripa was named PAC-12 Specialist of the Week. She scored a perfect 10 on vault in win over Cal-Berkeley early in the season which paved the way for her first specialist honor. Zamarripa won the same honors in February for strong performances on vault and bars in win over Stanford.

Other Bruins' gymnasts that will be counted on at the championship meet will be a trio of Canadian gymnasts, including Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs, a senior from Toronto who was the first Canadian gymnast to medal at a world championships. The other two Canadian gymnasts are Aisha Gerber and Ti Liu.

Another UCLA gymnast Samantha Peszek, a junior from Indianapolis, has also been named PAC-12 Gymnast of the Week this season.

The Bruins also won their regional meet in Fayetville, Ark., two weeks ago. Along with Georgia, Alabama and Utah, UCLA is one of just four schools to have won a collegiate women's gymnastics title.

It is interesting that UCLA has arguably the hardest women's gymnast name in the NCAA as we have frequently double-checked Vanessa Zamarripa's last name, and one of the easiest names to spell in Ti Liu as well.

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