If you missed yesterday’s UCLA Gymnastics meet, you missed one of the closest and most exciting meets this season. That’s because UCLA and Oklahoma combined for a total of six Perfect 10s, with each team earning three.
As the home team, UCLA started off on the Vault while Oklahoma started on the Bars. Unlike last season when the Vault was probably UCLA’s weakest event, the Bruins started off with a score of 49.500. UCLA had three scores of 9.9 or better and were led by Napualani Hall’s 9.95. Nia Dennis added a 9.925 while Kyla Ross picked up a 9.90.
Meanwhile, over on the Bars, the Sooners earned a pair of 9.95s from Nicole Lehrmann and Maggie Nichols and finished the rotation .025 points behind the Bruins with a 49.475. It would be UCLA’s only lead of the meet.
The teams traded events on the second rotation with the Sooners on the Vault and the Bruins on the Bars. UCLA is missing having Madison Kocian on the Bars. After off-season shoulder surgery, Kocian has been limited to competing on just the Beam so far this season. The Bruins had Nia Dennis and Sonya Meraz score just a 9.80 while JaNay Honest only scored a 9.825. Not even a 9.90 from Christine Peng-Peng Lee and a 9.925 from Kyla Ross could keep UCLA from their lowest scoring event of the day as the Bruins finished this rotation with a team score of 49.25.
Powered by the first Perfect 10 of the day by Brenna Dowell as well as a 9.975 by Maggie Nichols and a 9.90 by Nicole Lehrmann, the Sooners finished the Vault with a score of 49.575. That gave Oklahoma a 0.3 point lead after two rotations and it was 99.05-98.75, Sooners.
The third rotation had the Bruins on the Beam and the Sooners on the Floor. UCLA earned their first Perfect 10 of the meet when Peng-Peng Lee executed a flawless routine on the Beam. The Bruins also earned great scores from Katelyn Ohashi with a 9.925 and Brielle Nguyen with a 9.90. Kyla Ross added a 9.850, which probably deserved a higher score and Madison Kocian also scored 9.850 for her routine. That gave UCLA a 49.525, their best score of the meet so far.
The Sooners posted their lowest team score of the day on the Floor despite the fact that Maggie Nichols earned a 9.975 for her routine while Brenna Dowell picked up a 9.90 for hers. Oklahoma finished this rotation with a 49.225 and the teams were tied at 148.275 heading into the last rotation.
The teams swapped events for the fourth and final rotation and you knew it was going to be a nail-biter. Gracie Kramer led off for UCLA with a 9.875 as Stefani Catour earned a 9.95, giving the Sooners a 0.075 lead. Nia Dennis followed and also earned a 9.875 for the Bruins, but Brehanna Showers scored a 9.975 to stretch Oklahoma’s lead to 0.175 points.
The third competitor from each team, UCLA’s Kyla Ross and Oklahoma’s Carly Woodard would both see their scores dropped. Ross scored another 9.875 while Woodard fell off the balance beam and scored 8.975.
Nicole Lehrmann scored a 9.85 as Oklahoma’s fourth competitor on the Beam while Felicia Hano’s Perfect 10 narrowed the Bruins’ deficit to just 0.025. Not to be outdone, Oklahoma’s Anastasia Webb followed Hano’s 10 with one of her own on the Beam. But Katelyn Ohashi responded by also earning a Perfect 10 back on the floor.
So, heading into the last competitors for each team, Oklahoma clung to the slimmest of leads as the Sooners still only lead by 0.025 points. Last up for Oklahoma was Maggie Nichols. Nichols did what would seem to be impossible. She scored another Perfect 10 for the fourth Perfect 10 in a row by the two teams. While Pauline Tratz scored an excellent 9.925 for her floor routine, not even another Perfect 10 would have earned a victory for the Bruins.
In the end, the Sooners earned the victory 198.050 to 197.950. It was a hard-fought meet that came down to the final two gymnasts but, ultimately, it had the Bruins coming up just a little bit short.
After watching these two teams battle it out yesterday, I’m not going to be surprised to see both teams in a Super Six showdown in April at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis.