The silver lining from UCLA’s loss against Oregon State was the standout performance by senior Lichelle Wong.
Against the same opponent last year, Wong tore her Achilles tendon, but this year she got her redemption with season-high scores in all four events, competing on floor and vault for the first time since her injury.
Wong was thrown into more events than expected after a flare-up in senior Monique De La Torre’s old injury left her unable to compete.
“I tore my labrum in my shoulder during preseason,” said De La Torre, who has competed on and off throughout the season. “It’s been a struggle.”
In past meets this season, Wong has mainly competed on uneven bars for her team.
“Because we had some things, she had to come in on floor and vault, and it was a major breakthrough,” said coach Valorie Kondos Field. “This is the first time she’s been all-around since last February.”
Although the Bruins fell short of the win, losing to the Beavers by almost seven-tenths of a point Saturday (196.725-196.075), the meet held emotional importance for Wong.
“The day before I was nervous about going back there, but while I was competing, I didn’t notice anything different,” Wong said.
Wong particularly excelled in her uneven bars performance, earning a meet-high 9.900. She also had solid performances on vault and floor, despite a lack of preplanned routines.
“I wasn’t planning on doing vault or floor. For floor, it was very last minute. I didn’t have any tumbling passes prepared. We made something up 10 minutes before the floor rotation,” Wong said.
Given only 10 minutes to prepare a routine, Wong scored a respectable 9.725.
Wong attributed her success this past weekend to her supportive teammates, a mindset that fits the team’s motto for the week: to “have one heartbeat.”
“This theme resonated with everyone,” Wong said. “Everyone is committed to being that heartbeat.”