This afternoon, campus will be swarming with gymnastics fans as the 2019 seniors perform in their final home meet of the season and as Valorie Kondos Field coaches her final meet i in Pauley Pavilion as the head coach of UCLA gymnastics. In order to ensure her farewell meet would take place on a Saturday night, Stanford head coach Tabitha Yim actually rearranged their team’s schedule so the Bruin family could come from far and wide to say goodbye. Otherwise, this final meet would have been on a Tuesday. The athletic department is even giving away a “Miss Val” tote to the first 4,000 fans and special kleenex packs to the first 1,000 fans, as many will be moved to tears celebrating an athletic icon.
Last Time Out
Last weekend, UCLA hosted Stanford in a sellout win, scoring 198.325 to Stanford’s 196.275, which was the highest team score since March 7, 2004 when the Bruins also scored 198.325 against Michigan.
In the opening rotation on vault, the Bruins started strong when Nia Dennis opened with a stuck Yurchenko full for a 9.900. Felicia Hano and Sekai Wright would each add a 9.850 while Pauline Tratz stuck her Yurchenko full for a 9.900. Kyla Ross was just shy of perfection with a 9.950, which was good enough to win the event. Gracie Kramer made a rare appearance on vault, taking only a small step on her landing for a 9.750. That gave the Bruins a team total of 49.450 for the first rotation. Meanwhile, Stanford would begin on bars, with Aleeza Yu contributing the highest score for the Cardinal with a 9.875 and their team total after the first rotation was 49.025.
Moving to bars, UCLA earned scores that most teams only dream of. Margzetta Frazier led off this rotation again with a 9.875 while Hano would follow with a matching score. Dennis was in the third spot where she earned a season-high 9.925, which was the top score of the day on the bars. Birthday girl Norah Flatley was up next and she earned a 9.850. Madison Kocian and Ross wrapped up the rotation with a 9.900 each. As a result, the Bruins earned a 49.475 on this rotation. Stanford’s vault scores would send them even further behind the Bruins with a team total of 48.925. At the halfway mark, UCLA was leading by almost a full point, 98.925-97.950.
In the final two rotations, UCLA put up championship caliber scores, beginning with a 9.900 from both Grace Glenn and Brielle Nguyen on beam. Kocian followed with a solid 9.850, which was nice to see as she had been struggling the last few weeks in this event. Just before her routine, Flatley got a nice “Happy Birthday” from the student section. She, then, proceeded to put up a career high 9.925. For the first time this season, Ross earned a perfect 10 on beam, giving her another event win and her sixth consecutive meet with a perfect 10. It was her eighth 10 overall this season and the 13th of her career. As if this wasn’t enough, Katelyn Ohashi got a near-perfect 9.975 for the fourth time this year in the anchor spot. That meant that UCLA scored a 49.700 on the beam. Meanwhile, Stanford was on the floor in this rotation and, while it was their strongest event, they just weren’t able to gain any ground on the Bruins. The Cardinal totalled a 49.300 for the rotation including a 9.900 coming from Rachael Flam. In fact, Stanford actually fell further behind in this rotation as UCLA now lead 148.625-147.250.
The Bruin Dance Party was in full effect as UCLA moved to the floor. The Bruins went on such a tear that they actually ended up dropping a 9.900, which is a high score for most teams. Frazier began the rotation with a 9.950 while Kramer’s Twilight Zone tribute earned a 9.925. Tratz followed with a 9.900 and Dennis earned a season-high 9.925. Hano and Ohashi finished the party with a 9.950 each, causing a three-way tie for the top spot. The fantastic scores resulted in another 49.700 for UCLA in this rotation as the Cardinal moved to the beam. Stanford’s beam rotation was strong and respectable with Kyla Bryant earning a team high 9.900. Bryant also earned the day’s all-around title, but, to be fair, no Bruin gymnast competed in the all-around in this meet. Stanford received a team total of 49.025. That wrapped up the meet and the Bruins had another win by a score of 198.325 to 196.275.
Following this meet, Ross was rewarded for the sixth consecutive time as Pac-12 Gymnast of the Week. For meet highlights, including Ross’s perfect beam routine, check out this video from UCLA Athletics:
Utah State Aggies
UCLA will host the Utah State Aggies today, and there’s no doubt that UCLA takes this one and heads into the regionals as the #2 team in the country. The Aggies are 5-9 overall, with their season high score of 196.075 coming in a quad meet against West Virginia, Pittsburgh, and Cornell on February 17. Senior Madison Ward-Sessions recently tied a school record, earning a 9.975 on floor in her final home meet appearance. She has a total of 36 career titles and is tied for 17th nationally on the floor exercise.
Second-year Utah State head coach Amy Smith is actually a 2001 graduate of UCLA, and was on the 1997 NCAA gymnastics championship team, the first of Miss Val’s championship teams. It is only fitting that she be present in Pauley Pavilion today for Miss Val’s final bow.
This is your UCLA Bruins vs. Utah State Aggies gymnastics open thread.