To say that UCLA Gymnastics had a difficult weekend would be an understatement. The team had to split up to get to Utah for Saturday's meet. The competitors and coaches took a charter on Friday while the rest of the team and support staff flew up the morning of the meet.
The less-than-ideal travel arrangements may still have been affecting the Bruins yesterday. At the same time, UCLA head coach Valerie Kondos Field also appeared to be using the meet to get some of her gymnasts some meet experience while resting up others.
This looked to be the case from the first rotation when freshman star Madison Kocian did not compete in the vault. In fact, Kocian only competed on the bars and the beam yesterday.
It didn't matter.
UCLA still won the meet easily, due in large part to Kyla Ross' amazing performance. Ross was UCLA's only competitor in the all-around and, like the Bruins, she won it with ease.
Ross started the day with a 9.90 on the vault to lead the team to a score of 49.20. Madison Preson and Sonia Meraz each scored a 9.875. to tie for second in the event. Miranda Hone of Utah State placed third with a 9.825.
The Bruins then moved to the bars in their second rotation and the Bruin trio of Kocian, Ross and Christine Peng-Peng Lee came through as usual, even if the judges seemed a little tougher than usual. Lee earned a 9.95, Ross was second with a 9.25 and Kocian tied Utah State's Brittany Jeppesen for third with a 9.875. UCLA scored a 49.40 as a team on the bars.
The Bruins then moved to the beam, which is still UCLA's second strongest event behind the bars. Sonya Meraz and Hallie Mossett got the Bruins started with a pair of 9.80s. Madison Kocian only scored a 9.625, which was UCLA’s low score and was dropped. Then it was Kyla Ross’ time to shine when she scored her third perfect ten this season and her second in 48 hours, after earning one on the bars Saturday against Utah. Here’s Ross’ full routine on the beam, courtesy of NastiaFan101 2017 on YouTube:
Peng-Peng Lee then earned a 9.725 before Katelyn Ohasi scored a 9.95, which gave the Bruins a team score of 49.275 on the beam.
UCLA then finished the meet on the floor. This is the event which has been the Bruins’ biggest challenge this season. UCLA struggled with the floor exercise yesterday. Things started off looking good when Katelyn Ohasi came through with a season-high 9.90 and she was followed by the debut of redshirt freshman Macy Toronjo, who also scored a 9.90. But, then the bottom seemed to fall out as no other Bruin scored higher than Stella Savvidou’s 9.575. JaNay Honest posted a season-low 9.100 while Gracie Kramer’s season debut on the floor received a score of 9.300. Kyla Ross’ second floor exercise of the season was better than her first, but it was still only a 9.400.
By the time the Bruins reached the floor, they already had a significant enough lead over both Utah State and Bridgeport to win the entire meet. So, while the team score of 48.000 was certainly disappointing. It didn’t matter because UCLA had performed well enough in the other three rotations.
Bruin head coach Valerie Kondos Field is quoted on the official site:
We need to work on our consistency. We need to help them figure it out. They need to figure it out. We told them that we're past mid-season now, and whoever is consistent will be competing. We are no longer going to be playing with the lineup.
Overall, the Bruins won the meet with a score of 195.875, which is the second lowest score this season, Utah State was second at 195.700 and Bridgeport was third with a score of 193.225.
Afterwards, former Bruin Samantha Peszak interview Kyla Ross for Pac-12 Networks. Here’s the video of that, courtesy of UCLA Athletics.
Here’s the Pac-12 Networks meet recap, courtesy of UCLA Athletics.