Today was the first NCAA press conference with the head coaches. Below you’ll find a few of their comments.
Each head coach had the opportunity to share some opening remarks. Here are a few noteworthy comments:
Valorie Kondos-Field of UCLA: “Everybody knows how Regionals has become such a stressful meet. Well, when you lose three of your top athletes for the season, it becomes even more stressful. So, we are more than thrilled to be coming back to the Big Dance, and looking at our session, we have been beat handedly by three of the teams in that session… We know that it’s going to be a blood bath to get to the Super Six, and we’re really excited for that challenge.”
Miss Val was referring to Peng Peng Lee (torn ACL and MCL), Samantha Peszek (torn Achilles), and Mattie Larson (knee dislocation).
Megan Marsden of Utah: “Here at Utah, we’re also very proud that we’ll be sending a team to Championships for the 38th straight year. It is a burden that our athletes carry that streak, but we were really proud of them to get through Regionals. The young team that we have assembled this year really had to step up when they lost their team captain, Corrie Lothrop.”
Leah from the Salt Lake Tribune asked Danna Durante about the coaching transition. Here is a small portion of Danna’s response.
Danna Durante of Georgia: “Ultimately, this year has been about building relationships with those young people. For them to trust their coach, you have to have a relationship with them, and certainly that was priority number one.”
We asked Rhonda Faehn about difficulty and deductions in Florida’s routines.
Rhonda Faehn of Florida: “You know, that’s always something that we consider when we’re starting to do the routine composition and construction in the fall. We’re going to put skills out there that our athletes feel 100% confident in. Be it that there are three double layouts in our floor lineup, but we feel confident that those girls are able to compete aggressively and consistently. But at the same time, we really want to have balance and make sure that these athletes are able to do the difficulty with the performance factor, the execution… I just think that the balance we have allows them to feel comfortable out there and confident with what they’re doing.”
As a follow-up, we asked Rhonda about Marissa King’s 9.8 scores on her Tsuk 1.5:
Rhonda Faehn of Florida: “It’s hard. That’s frustrating for me as a coach. You can ask anyone, that’s just so much more of a challenging vault as far as the entry, and the challenge is that you’re not able to get a very even, square-shouldered block like you would on a Yurchenko. You’re coming off of one arm, and therefore, it’s not going to be not quite as high when the judges compare it to Yurchenkos. But I definitely feel that–for those who have done that vault–they know that it is not going to be as high as Yurchenkos. It’s a little bit frustrating, but at the same time, Marissa is just the type of athlete that is very passionate and will do everything and wants to just continue to do it. And she does it well… She has nailed it the last couple of meets, so I’m hoping that she gets rewarded for the level of difficulty for that one.”
Allison of Inside Gymnastics asked Meg Stephenson about recruiting a team of excellent Level 10 gymnasts. Here’s part of her answer:
Meg Stephenson of Minnesota: “We do really recruit for potential, and the reason is because we really love coaching. So, we really look for athletes we feel have a lot of untapped potential, but obviously have had a great start with good, clean basics and good lines and have those wonderful, God-given gifts that sometimes are hard to teach.”
Vanessa Zamarripa fell on her beam dismount at Regionals last weekend, and we asked Miss Val about the injury.
Valorie Kondos-Field of UCLA: “Vanessa has a sprain in her foot/ankle, between the fourth and fifth metatarsus of her foot, and it’s all along that side of her foot and into her ankle. So, she’s not training yet. She just got out of a boot. She’s got a steel plate in her tennis shoe, and she said, ‘I’ll be fine.’ So [sigh] she’ll be fine.”
After uncharacteristic mistakes from seniors Vanessa Zamarripa and Monique de la Torre, we were curious whether there would be any changes to UCLA’s lineup.
Valorie Kondos-Field of UCLA: “No, hopefully not. We don’t have anyone else to put in. No, we’re planning on going with the same team, and they’re actually training really well.”
In February, Oklahoma scored a season-high 198.375, which made us wonder about peaking.
KJ Kindler of Oklahoma: “We did hit that great score mid-season. That competition was against UCLA, and honestly, we had–as they did–an amazing night. I don’t know if it was the stars, the moon, or whatever you want to say. But everybody was nailing it, and landings were amazing. It was just that one meet that you have that it’s almost like nothing could go wrong. Obviously, that’s the place you want to be next weekend. We understand and know that peaking in gymnastics is a difficult thing, and we do have a philosophy of peaking early–very early in the year and starting off very hot. It’s something that I think our program needs to do in order to make a statement. It’s something that we continually do. We come out in the beginning of the season at a certain level. And then we come down a little. And we go up a little. And then we come down a little. And I think that we are back on our up side.”
Uncle Tim will be at the meet doing quick hits and interviews. So, check back here next week. In the meantime, here is the women’s NCAA TV schedule:
Saturday, April 20, 7pm ET-Super Six Team Finals, ESPN3 (Online)
Sunday, April 21, 4pm ET-Individual Event Finals, ESPN3 (Online)
Tuesday, April 30, 8pm ET-Tape Delay, ESPNU