It was a tough competition for the Bruins, but, in the end, there is a new national champion.
UCLA was hurt by a pair of out of bounds on the floor exercise, but the only difference those deductions didn’t actually make any difference in the final results.
What did make a difference was the fact that, when the Bruins needed 9.9s, they were only score 9.8s.
UCLA started on the beam and things started off well enough when Grace Glenn scored a 9.9000. Brielle Nguyen followed and scored a 9.8500. Madison Kocian was third and only earned a 9.6625, which was dropped. Norah Flatley came through with a 9.9125, but Katelyn Ohashi only received a 9.8000, which was the lowest score UCLA had to count. Kyla Ross wrapped up the rotation by picking up a 9.9250. That gave UCLA a 49.3875, which is uncharacteristically low for a team which excelled at the event all season long.
The second rotation for the Bruins was the floor exercise. Again, UCLA fell short on one of their best events. Pauline Tratz started off for the Bruins with a relatively solid 9.8625. Nia Dennis was up second and she earned an underwhelming 9.8250. Gracie Kramer followed with a 9.7375 including a 0.10 deduction for stepping out of bounds. Ross was next and she was the first Bruin to break a 9.9 on the floor when she earned a 9.9125, which is still well below the numbers she had been putting up for most of the season. As usual, Ohashi was the final Bruin to compete on the floor and earned a 9.9500 for her routine.
So, with a pair of disappointing scores on what should have been two of UCLA’s best rotations, it didn’t look good for the Bruins as their team score was just a 98.6875 after the first two rotations.
The good news is that UCLA did pick things up on their final two events, but it still wasn’t enough. Dennis started on the vault with a 9.9125 and Sekai Wright followed by earning a 9.8000. Hano, who seemed to emerge this season as an up-and-coming competitor received a 9.8875 for her vault while Tratz followed with a 9.8750. Ross earned a 9.9500 for her near-perfect vault, for which one judge actually gave her a 10, but that 10 was dropped as the scoring process was dropping the high and the low scores before averaging the four middle scores. Kramer finished the event with a 9.7125, which forced UCLA to count Wright’s 9.8. Overall, the Bruins scored a 49.425, which ended up being their highest score of the meet on the event that they have struggled most with all season long.
Their fourth and final rotation was on the bars. Again, this event has been one of their strongest. In the end, the Bruins posted a 49.425 to match the score on the vault, but it still wasn’t enough for the team to repeat as NCAA Champs.
Margzetta Frazier began the rotation with a 9.850 while Dennis added a 9.7625. Hano scored better, but it was still just a 9.8625. Norah Flatley’s routine earned her a 9.900, but Kocian only seemed to get robbed with a 9.8625. Ross wrapped up the competition for the Bruins with a strong 9.950, but there were to be no heroics this year. UCLA finished the competition with a final score of 197.5375 while Oklahoma totalled 198.3375 to win the national championship and LSU was second with 197.8250. Denver came in fourth a score of 197.000.
If we’re being honest, I’d say the results were more about the fact that the judging seem to keep the scores low. All told, the judges only gave out a grand total of just nine perfect 10s. Four of those were on Brenna Dowell’s vault while two more were for Maggie Nichols’ beam routine. Kyla Ross got one for her vault, LSU’s Sarah Finnegan got one for her beam routine and Olivia Trautman got one for her floor exercise.
Now, I know Oklahoma is a great squad, but, when 78% of the tens go to one team, it makes them very hard to beat and it’s also the kind of thing that makes you go hmmm....