After yet another top notch performance in Salt Lake City last weekend, UCLA gymnastics travels to Norman today to take on the #1 Oklahoma Sooners at 10:00 am PT this morning. Oklahoma finished in second place behind UCLA in last year’s NCAA gymnastics championships by just .0375, the smallest margin in NCAA history. Both teams have broken the coveted 198 mark and today’s meet could determine who is ranked #1 in the country by meet’s end, although it is possible that UCLA could win today’s meet and not become the #1 team because the rankings are based on each team’s meet score averages and wins and losses do not affect the rankings.
Last Time Out
Last week’s meet against #4 Utah was UCLA’s best performance to date, tying their season high score of 198.025. On top of winning the meet, UCLA garnered Pac-12 honors once again, with Norah Flatley recognized as Pac-12 Freshman of the Week and Kyla Ross was selected as the Pac-12 Gymnast of the Week for the fourth straight week. Ross’s all-around score was the highest in the nation this season and the fourth-highest in UCLA gymnastics history.
Beginning the meet on bars, Margzetta Frazier led off with a 9.875 and Felicia Hano and Macy Toronjo both earned a 9.800. Flatley showed her stripes as the best freshman in the conference by earning a 9.925 while Madison Kocian reminded us all that she was the 2016 Olympic silver medalist on bars by scoring a 9.950. Once again, Ross finished the rotation with a perfect 10, her fourth of the season in this event. Meanwhile, Utah competed on the vault and , while the Utes performed well, UCLA had a slim .100 lead after the first rotation, 49.550-49.450.
On vault, Katelyn Ohashi was in the rotation again and started the Bruins off with a 9.800. Hano scored a near-perfect 9.950 and Sekai Wright earned a 9.850. Nia Dennis made her first appearance in the meet with a 9.850 while Ross earned a 9.925. Pauline Tratz anchored the vault team this week and brought home a 9.850. The Utes, meanwhile, were on the bars and none of their gymnasts scored below a 9.850. Despite that, UCLA actually increased their lead by .025 to .125 after two rotations, 98.975-98.850.
The Bruins were on the floor in the third rotation this week and no one earned less than a 9.850. Frazier began the event with a 9.850 while Gracie Kramer earned yet another solid score of 9.900. Tratz came next with a 9.875 and both Ross and Hano followed with 9.900’s. Ohashi rounded out the rotation as usual and earned a 9.925, even though the routine was flawless. At the same time, Utah was on the beam and the Utes combined for their lowest event score of the meet. This allowed UCLA to double their lead over Utah to .250 and, after three rotations, the Bruins led 148.475-148.225.
In the final rotation on beam, Grace Glenn started off the event earning a 9.875 while Brielle Nguyen’s ever-calming routine in the second spot earned a 9.900. Kocian made some uncharacteristic mistakes that led to a score of 9.225, but Flatley got the Bruins back on track with a 9.900. Ross earned a seemingly effortless 9.950 and Ohashi anchored the event with a 9.925. While the Bruins were on the beam, the Utes wrapped up the meet on the floor. MaKenna Kendall-Giles cost Utah a .100 deduction when she stepped out of bounds as the Utes combined for a 49.400 score. That meant the Bruins increased their lead again and the final score was UCLA 198.025, Utah 197.625
In the end, UCLA’s 198.025 was good enough to keep them #2 in the country.
Today’s meet is definitely one to watch, with the Sooners having several superstars of their own. Junior Maggie Nichols earned a Gym Slam (a perfect 10 in all events) in both her freshman and sophomore years and she is currently ranked #2 on bars with a average score of 9.945 and ninth on beam with an average of 9.900. Sophomore Anastasia Webb is ranked #15 in the all-around with an average of 39.365 and also ranks sixth on beam with an average of 9.910.
Their depth matches up well with UCLA as 14 different Sooners have competed in at least one meet. Besides ranking #1 overall, the Sooners are ranked #1 on bars, #2 on vault and beam, and #3 on floor. A host of Sooners are ranked nationally in individual events and are sure to be at their best today when they take on the Bruins.
Last season, when the teams met in Westwood, the Sooners edged the Bruins by just .100, 198.050-197.950. Today’s meet will probably come down to the final rotation and could be as close as last year, or possibly even closer.
This is your UCLA Bruins at Oklahoma Sooners gymnastics open thread.