Sunday, May 27

UCLA gymnasts remain calm with championship berth at stake

Gymnastics vs. Utah

Daily Bruin File Photo


NCAA Regional
Saturday, 3 p.m.

Columbus, Ohio
No TV info

This weekend, UCLA needs to place either first or second just to compete at its last home meet of the year.

That’s because only the top two finishers at this weekend’s NCAA Regional competition will move on to this month’s NCAA Championships, which will be held in Pauley Pavilion.

No. 6 UCLA (16-5) is seeded first in its region, and because of its previous successes this season, sophomore Dana McDonald said the team is coming in relatively unfazed.

“It’s a big meet, but it’s nothing bigger than what we have been competing in.” McDonald said. “We’re just going to go in and put it all out there.”

Because of this confidence, the team has not made any drastic changes in practice.

“We know that what we’ve been doing up until now has been working,” said sophomore Mattie Larson.

“We’re like, ‘well, we just need to do what we’ve been doing but stronger’ … It’s those sticks, the straight legs that can get our scores from like 49.3’s to 49.5’s, 49.6’s.”

In fact, senior Monique De La Torre said practice has gotten a bit lighter.

“This week, practice was a little less impactful than last week. Last week, we did a lot of endurance and strength stuff and this week we kind of laid off that,” De La Torre said.

UCLA is coming off a second-place finish at the Pac-12 Championships, but that meet did feature career-high performances in the all-around event from junior Olivia Courtney and senior Lichelle Wong.

Additionally, on vault, senior Kaelie Baer set a new career-high and senior Vanessa Zamarripa posted her ninth career perfect 10.

Although the team might not be worried about its upcoming meet, Larson admits that a sense of nostalgia will be present in the competition.

“It’s some people’s last meet,” Larson said.

“If you don’t place top two, you’re done, so everyone is really on the ball and determined to have the best meet they’ve had all year.”

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