The UCLA Bruins gymnastics team will host the Utah Utes in a conference dual meet today. With these teams tied for third in this week’s rankings, today’s meet could be a preview of both the conference championship and national championship performances.
Last Time Out
Last Saturday, UCLA traveled to Tempe, Arizona to take on the Arizona State Sun Devils and, for the fourth time this season, UCLA notched a meet total over the 197 mark.
In the first rotation on bars, UCLA turned in six solid scores. Felicia Hano led off the event with a 9.85 while Savannah Kooyman followed with a 9.8. Norah Flatley earned a 9.750 and, then, Kalyany Steele tied her career-high score with a 9.850. Madison Kocian earned a 9.775 before Kyla Ross earned a near-perfect 9.950 which won her the meet title on the bars. After the first rotation, the Bruins had a slight lead over Arizona State, 49.200 to 49.100.
Rotation two was on the vault and it put UCLA further out in front. Gracie Kramer and Kendal Poston both earned a 9.800 while Chloe Lashbrooke scored a 9.775. Pauline Tratz and Hano each notched a 9.85. Nia Dennis took the top score and the vault title for the day with a 9.900. After the second rotation, UCLA’s lead had increased to almost a half a point, 98.400 to 97.975.
The Bruins really turned it up in the on floor, starting with Flatley’s 9.875. Lashbrooke earned a season-topping 9.900 and Emma Andres stepped in to notch a solid 9.875. The second half of the rotation saw all three scores over 9.900, with Hano and Dennis earning 9.900s and Kramer earning another 9.950. UCLA’s strong performance on floor coupled with a stumble by ASU on the beam put the Bruins comfortably out in front, 147.925 to 146.550.
In the final rotation, Grace Glenn got UCLA started off right on the beam, with a 9.875. Samantha Satki contributed a 9.775 and Flatley followed with a 9.925. Poston and Ross both added solid scores, 9.750 and 9.950, respectively, to give the Bruins an even bigger edge. With the final scores tallied, UCLA easily won the meet, 197.200-195.475 and Hano won her first all-around with a score of 39.100.
UCLA and Utah have long been foes in the sport of gymnastics, with both teams combining for seven of the eight Pac-12 championship titles. The Utes are led by seniors Missy Reinstadtler and Kim Tessen and will be without MyKayla Skinner who resumed her elite training last spring in an attempt to make the 2020 US Gymnastics team for the Tokyo Olympics. Skinner will return to compete for the Utes next season.
Despite the loss of Skinner this season, the Utes are ranked 4th in the country on beam, while they are ranked 6th in both vault and bars. Utah scored a season-low in floor last week, dropping the Utes to 12th in the event. Tessen is ranked 6th in the nation on bars and 13th on vault, while Cristal Isa is ranked 10th and Maile O’Keefe is ranked 23rd on the balance beam.
Today’s meet is definitely going to show what UCLA is made of. Hosting this tough Utah team will help, but the Utes beat UCLA at home two years ago. The Bruins are going to avoid the problems they’ve had on the beam and will likely need six quality routines on all four rotations to win today.