If history is anything to go off of, then this weekend’s gymnastics meet could offer a preview of this year’s Pac-12 Champions – for 15 of the last 16 seasons, one these two teams has taken the conference crown.
When the No. 4 Bruins (3-0) travels to Palo Alto, Calif. to take on the No. 11 Cardinal (7-1) on Saturday, it will be the next installment of a rivalry that has heated up over the past decade.
“We can’t help but go up there and want to beat our big rival,” said coach Chris Waller. “It’s collegiate, fun sports and that’s part of our DNA and in our blood.”
Sophomore Dana McDonald, on the other hand, said the Bruins have been trying to look past the rivalry to focus on the bigger picture.
“It’s the progress over the course of the season that matters in the end,” she said.
After a win over Arizona State last weekend that saw key team members sitting out of events, the team is looking forward to an opportunity to prove itself on the road.
“We’re all excited to travel and compete again as a team.” McDonald said.
But for freshman Danusia Francis, who had a breakout meet against ASU, the thought of returning to Pauley is more exciting than anything else.
“I’m really excited to come back here because our crowd is better,” she said. “It’s really cool to have the student section so close and chanting.”
Fortunately for the Bruins, the student section will be in full force when UCLA hosts April’s NCAA tournament – the event the Bruins have centered their season around. Although they hope to maintain their undefeated record after this weekend, Waller said they are trying to stay focused on their ultimate goal of a national title.
“We have two goals: One, we want to prepare as well as we possibly can to contend to win a national championship and then the other goal … to go every weekend and get better and win that meet,” he said.
Email Zachary Lemos @ firstname.lastname@example.org