Coming into the Pac-12 Championships, I truly thought that it would come down to UCLA and Utah fighting it out for the title. I was wrong. Not on the Utah part, as they have been absolutely spot on the entire season, but on the UCLA part - instead it was Stanford trying to match Utah routine for routine.
The Bruins had a favorable for them rotation - bars, beam, floor and vault, with the corresponding national rankings of 6, 8, 6, and 12 (but an average of 49.245, vault is just really well done at the college level) - so it lined up pretty well for the Bruins. Starting on bars, the Bruins started well with a solid leadoff routine by Danusia Francis, but it started getting wobbly after her. Hallie Mosset fell twice on her stadler to her dismount - her toes to the bar before she dismounts but just couldn't get enough momentum (I think) to complete the elements, and didn't even attempt her landing after her second fall. Everyone else was just tentative on their routines, missing handstands, taking steps on the landing, except for Sam Peszek, who anchored the Bruins with a 9.9. After the first rotation, the Bruins were pretty much out of the competition, in last place, behind by .400 points. It may not seem like much, but that's pretty insurmountable in gymnastics, especially against a top team like Utah.
In the second rotation, the Bruins moved to the beam, which has been their nemesis this season. However, the Bruins put in a great performance, scoring a 49.30. Hallie Mossett shook off her bad bars routine to lead off with a 9.825. DeJesus and Olivia Courtney also contributed 9.825 with solid routines, Danusia Francis brought the house down again with her unique dismount and a 9.90, and Samantha Peszek won the Pac-12 beam title with a 9.925 (one judge gave her a 10!) It looked like the Bruins were righting the ship and would at least make this competitive, as they were moving to the floor. Unfortunately, Utah just went on bars and scored a phenomenal 49.60, including a 10 from Georgia Dabritz.
Jennifer Pinches led off for the Bruins on the floor, delivering a solid 9.850 and I haven't seen her tumble that well until yesterday. It seemed like a sign of good things to come, but unfortunately the Bruins started to crumble. Francis was dinged for going out of bounds on her final tumbling pass, although it was debatable if she actually went out. Sadiqua Bynum, who usually has too much air on her double layout and goes out of bounds, today wound up short. Courtney wound up short on her middle pass, requiring her to make a quick change to her pass as she didn't have enough momentum to do her usual punchback. Peszek was also short on her final tumbling pass, a recurring theme for the Bruins today, until Sydney Sawa stepped up with a 9.90. Still, the Bruins scored a disappointing 49.025, and after three rotations, the Bruins were in third place. Utah was wobbly on the beam, which was our chance to make up some points, but Stanford was beyond solid on the vault, scoring a 49.400, securing their second place spot. The Bruins were behind Stanford by 0.400, and had almost no shot at making that up.
In the final rotation, the Bruins moved to vault, and they knew their chances at first or second were shot. It showed in their vaults, as they were taking steps on their landings, and just didn't seem that into the competition at that point. The Bruins came to win, and when they were behind by nearly a point, the Bruins couldn't do what they could to at least solidify third. Sawa and Courtney had 9.90's for the Bruins, and unfortunately a step on the landing for Peszek cost her the Pac-12 all-around title.
In the first rotation, the Bruins were third with a 196.525. I thought that should have been enough to hold on to third, but UC Berkeley put up their second highest team score of the season, with a 196.550 (and home arena advantage) to take third place, and the Bruins were bumped down to fourth.
The women are undoubtedly a bit disappointed, but they will make Regionals, and the pairings will come out on Monday. The Bruins will have to put this behind them, or possibly use it to fuel their drive for the Super Six.
We should have at least two more meets this season, and I'm hoping for three, plus NCAA Individual Championships. Let's go, Bruins.