UCLA Gymnastics is coming off a hard fought win at the Pac-12 Championships which took place on March 24.
UC Berkeley actually led after the first rotation, where the Bruins began on vault. Rotation two saw the Bruins uncharacteristically struggle on bars, but they came back strong in rotation three on beam with a Perfect “10”, earned by Christine Peng-Peng Lee. With each strong routine, Utah answered, with their all-around co-champion, Mykayla Skinner, notching top performances at every turn. Going into rotation four, the championship was going to come down to a solid performance on floor, to which UCLA was no stranger. All five performances were amazing, capped off by (in my opinion) the best routine in collegiate gymnastics, performed by Katelyn Ohashi. Kyla Ross tied Utah’s Skinner for the All-Around title, with a score of 39.675.
Since earning the Pac-12 title, individuals have earned several conference and national accolades. Lee is currently a finalist for the AAI award, which is presented to the nation’s most outstanding senior female gymnast. She has five Perfect “10’s” this season alone, leading the nation with four of those on beam. Lee was also selected as the Pac-12 Gymnastics Scholar-Athlete of the Year, which is awarded to the top senior student-athlete who is a standout both academically and in their sport.
Additionally, six Bruins - Grace Glenn, Napualani Hall, Felicia Hano, Lee, Ohashi and Ross - have earned regular season All-America honors for 2018, as awarded by the National Association of College Gymnastics Coaches/Women.
As if that wasn’t enough, eight UCLA gymnasts earned a total of 14 All-Pac-12 honors in 2018, the most in the conference this season. Pac-12 Specialist of the Year went to Ohashi, who was a first-team honoree on both balance beam and floor exercise. Lee earned first-team honors on uneven bars and balance beam. In addition to winning the Pac-12 All-Around, Ross was selected to the first team in the all-around and uneven bars and to the second team on vault and balance beam.
Two other Bruins earned first-team honors, with Hall earning a spot on vault and freshman Grace Glenn honored on balance beam. Hano earned second-team honors on both vault and floor exercise, and freshmen Nia Dennis and Pauline Tratz each earned second-team honors on uneven bars and floor exercise, respectively.
Today’s regional competition will decide who gets to compete in the NCAA Championships on April 20 and 21. The rotation order for the regional was determined by blind draw prior to team selections. The No. 3 national and top regional seed Bruins will begin the meet on floor exercise in rotation one and will conclude competition in rotation five on balance beam, sitting out rotation six with a bye. Also competing at the Regional are No. 10 Arkansas, No. 15 Boise State, No. 25 Ohio State, No. 33 Pittsburgh and No. 34 Kent State. By the looks of the competition, I’d say today’s meet is going to be a nice warm up for the national championships.
UCLA has won a total of 22 regional titles, with last year’s title going to UCLA. At the 2017 Champaign Regional, Madison Kocian won both the uneven bars and floor exercise.