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#2 UCLA Gymnastics to Battle #4 Utah Utes for Pac-12 Supremacy

The Utes will be UCLA’s toughest opponent yet this season.

Felicia Hano flies through the air during her floor routine.
Joe Piechowski

After scoring a season-high 198.025 at home against Arizona last weekend and sweeping this week’s Pac-12 honors, #2 UCLA travels to Utah to take on the #4 Utes in a battle of the Pac-12’s best two teams.

Last Time Out

UCLA began the day on the vault and had six outstanding scores to take the lead from the beginning. Katelyn Ohashi can seemingly perform gymnastics in her sleep, as she was in the vault lineup for this meet after not having practiced vaulting in over two weeks. She earned a respectable 9.775. Felicia Hano followed with a stuck landing and earned a 9.900 for it. Sekai Wright came next with a 9.875. Nia Dennis would match Ohashi’s 9.775, and junior standout Kyla Ross would earn a Perfect 10 for the second week in a row. Pauline Tratz finished the rotation with a 9.875.

The Bruins moved to the bars and had mind-blowing scores from all six gymnasts. Dennis led off with a 9.900 and Margzetta Frazier would up the ante with a 9.950. Hano followed with a 9.875 and Norah Flatley and Madison Kocian would each stick their landings and earn a 9.900. Not to be outdone, Ross was up last, earning a 9.975, which included a 10 from one judge. After two rotations, UCLA led 99.050 to Arizona’s 97.725.

The Bruins were on beam next and earned their lowest score of the day in this event. Grace Glenn began the rotation with a solid 9.875. Brielle Nguyen was in the number two spot for the first time in a few weeks where she earned a 9.825. Kocian was up next with a 9.800, and Flatley followed with an uncharacteristic fall on the beam that led to a 9.250. Ross got the rotation back on track with a 9.925 and Ohashi earned a 9.800, hanging on through a balance check that nearly caused her to fall of the beam. After three rotations, the Bruins were up 148.275 to 146.95.

The “Bruin Dance Party” was, of course, the highlight of the meet and head coach Valorie Kondos Field decided to tinker with the lineup. Frazier and Gracie Kramer led off with a pair of 9.925s. Ross was in the third spot and was seemingly robbed of a perfect 10 on the floor for the second week in a row. She earned a 9.950 with a 10 from one judge. Dennis was next with a 9.775 after a 0.10 deduction for stepping out on a tumbling pass that just had too much power. Hano, who has proven herself as a solid competitor on the floor, followed with a outstanding 9.950. Of course, Ohashi rounded out the rotation, earning her third perfect 10 of the season, which pushed UCLA over the coveted 198 mark for the first time this season as the Bruins finished with a total score of 198.025 while Arizona finished with a 194.975.

UCLA’s score makes them only the third team to score a 198 so far this season and it lifted them from #3 in the nation up to #2 past Florida. #1 Oklahoma and #3 Florida are the only other schools to score higher than 198 so far this season.

Today’s Meet

The Utah Utes are ranked fourth in the country and bring with them MyKayla Skinner and MaKenna Merrell-Giles, who helped lead their team to a 197.125-195.800 win over Stanford last weekend. Skinner won all three events in which she competed, and Merrell- Giles won her third all-around title of the season. As a team, they scored over 49 points on vault, bars, and floor and beat the 197 mark for the eighth consecutive meet, continuing their best season in school history.

Utah will definitely be UCLA’s toughest opponent to date. This meet will not only showcase two of the best teams in the country, but also the duo that will be fighting for the Pac-12 Championship. Utah was one of last year’s Super Six in the NCAA Championship meet, and actually beat the Bruins at home in 2018.

This is your UCLA gymnastics at Utah open thread.

Go Bruins!