The #4 ranked UCLA Gymnastics team welcomed #1, defending national champions Florida to Pauley last night to kick off the season, in a relatively cupcake free schedule.
Unfortunately, as great as the meet went last night, as new Bruins were introduced and former Bruins took control of the UCLA Gymnastics twitter account giving us play by play (I hope this continues all season!), the Bruins fell to the Gators by the absolute slimmest of margins, 196.650-196.625. .025 points. How tiny is this margin?
It's the tiniest of hops on a landing. It's your legs slightly separating in the air as you are twisting getting ready for your landing on the vault. It's a slight arm wave on balance beam after a back handspring. It's a handstand on the uneven bars that wasn't quite 100% vertical. I do have to note that the Bruins put in an inquiry in two floor scores and they were bumped up at the end, but it wasn't enough to win.
The night went as well as could be hoped for a relatively young team. Olivia Courtney led the team with three scores above 9.9, with a meet high 9.975 on the vault. (Watch the vault here.) Sydney Sawa also contributed two 9.9s, including a 9.9 on vault, which makes me happy to see she has upped her start value on the event. (See Sydney's vault here) Samantha Peszek returned to competition after a year off due to a ruptured Achilles to her usual, consistent self and a fantastic 9.925 on the balance beam. (Watch Sam on beam here!) Danusia Francis returned to her typical form, anchoring the beam with her fantastic side arial to a twisting dismount, creating a ton of buzz last night (and among the football players who had never seen a gymnastics meet before!) , scoring a 9.875. (Watch her full routine here.)
Now, the problems, and where points were lost and where Coach Val was disappointed - the balance beam. One fall doesn't hurt you, as the lowest score is thrown out. Two is devastating. Sydney Sawa fell during her leap series, scoring only a 9.25, which was thrown out. Sophomore Sophina DeJesus touched the beam during a series, which is a deduction, but she stayed on the beam, scoring a 9.475. Ellette Craddock, who didn't compete last year, had a few wobbles and scored a 9.575. If the Bruins want to remain elite, these beam problems have to be cleaned up ASAP.
Angie Cipra and Hallie Mossett made their debuts for the Bruins, with Cipra contributing two 9.850s on vault and floor, and Mossett on beam and bars, with a 9.750 and 9.775 respectively. Mossett also has a unique beam mount that is bound to keep people talking. In a tidbit from the UCLA twitter, Mossett has been out of the gym for nearly two years, recovering from a car accident. Good to see her in good form last night.
In other news that broke my heart, Mattie Larson has officially retired, but she was one of the four people who commandeered UCLA Gymnastics twitter to give us live commentary.
UCLA's next meet is next Sunday versus Oregon State in Pauley at 6pm. It will air live on Pac-12 networks.