Maybe it’s a home thing.
No. 13 UCLA gymnastics has been sweeping wins this season on its home turf. And this one was a resounding two-and-a-half point victory over No. 17 Washington (2-3) that included a new season-high in points for the Bruins (4-1). The 197.000-194.500 win marked UCLA’s second-straight victory since its blowout loss at No. 3 Utah on Jan. 23.
A highlight of the night was the all-around winner Sonya Meraz, a freshman walk-on who was consistent in all of her routines. The standout performance earned Meraz her first all-around title in her young career.
“I felt really good. It’s my first time competing everything all at once,” Meraz said.
Coach Valorie Kondos Field said that Meraz is a quiet girl who loves to compete.
“She is coming out of her shell though,” Kondos Field said.
The freshman of the night moved up from her consistent routines on exhibition rounds, which do not get counted to the overall score, and solidified her place as a capable all-around competitor.
“I usually feel more calm because I am competing for my team,” Meraz said. “So I feel stronger when I have them.”
Another first of the night was sophomore Jennifer Pinches’ renewed opening tumbling pass in addition with a full-in for her floor routine – a combination that she said she has been practicing for a while.
“It was good day for me personally because I added a full-in as my first pass. Today was the first time I have competed (in) it since the Olympics … so three years ago.” Pinches said. “It just felt normal but exciting at the same time.”
Although Washington entered UCLA on the heels of a big win at the Oregon State quad meet on Jan. 30 that included a season-high score of 196.300, the Huskies struggled on all events Monday. Washington committed multiple mistakes that resulted in a number of low scores. Another tragedy for the Huskies was freshman Zoey Schaefer’s injury, which is not yet confirmed, due to an erroneous landing on her opening tumbling pass of her floor exercise.
Aside from the all-around title of Meraz and Pinches’ first full-in during her collegiate career, there were still a number of firsts tonight – redshirt senior Samantha Peszek’s fall on balance beam due to a foot cramp, graduate transfer Jordan Williams’ career-high on vault of 9.950 and freshman Hallie Mossett’s first floor exercise, contributing a 9.825 – all adding up to the team’s season-highs on vault and all-around total score.
“I know we can do even better,” Pinches said.
UCLA looks ahead in the season with its new season-high score of 197.000 and hopes to continue its improvement.
“(We got) 197 with (Peszek) falling on beam so …” Kondos Field said.
The next meet will be a road game against No. 16 Stanford, where the Bruins will try to bring their home success on the road.