Freshman Kyla Ross hopped onto the uneven bars. The four gymnasts who went before her had turned in solid scores.
Ross, however, glided through her routine with grace, flowing from skill to skill and hitting every handstand. Once she let go of the bar, she completed two fully stretched out backflips and stuck the landing.
Her teammates crowded around her, congratulating her and shouting “10! 10! 10!”
The judges agreed and gave Ross the first perfect 10 of her college career, and UCLA’s first this season.
“I was so excited to hit my bar routine today,” Ross said. “Sticking my dismount and having the team surround me and all congratulate me was so exciting. Just to get the 10, it was very emotional. My first college 10, so I was excited to have my whole team there and to start off the meet in such a positive way.”
No. 8 UCLA (2-1,1-0 Pac-12) took the momentum from Ross’ showcase on the bars to grab a 197.325-196.700 victory over No. 17 Oregon State (3-1, 0-1) on Saturday afternoon in Corvallis, Oregon.
The Bruins eclipsed the 197 mark for the first time all season, a goal set for this meet by coach Valorie Kondos Field.
“This was a great start for us,” Kondos Field said. “This is how we should have started the season.”
Aside from Ross, freshman Madison Kocian had her best day in the blue and gold, winning the meet’s all-around competition with a score of 39.525. Junior JaNay Honest, on her birthday, completed three clean, solid routines.
UCLA had a lively approach to the entire meet. The team cheered every stuck landing on the uneven bars, especially when Ross finished her perfect 10. That energy carried through to the following events, showing up most clearly in Kocian’s floor exercise and senior Christine Peng-Peng Lee’s beam routine.
“I feel like we always have energy during competition, but today we brought it together from the first event,” Honest said. “I think we were just having fun all around on four events.”
Unlike the Bruins’ first meet in Pauley Pavilion, the energy went along with a consistent overall performance.
The execution was there from start to finish.
“We’ve all done the training,” Ross said. “We all know what we’re capable of. I think we went out there and actually did perform what we could.”
Despite the positive vibes surrounding the Bruins’ victory in Corvallis, the team feels they can continue to improve and put up higher scores in future meets.
[Related: UCLA to recuperate over two-week layoff]
“We still left a lot of chances on the floor,” Kondos Field said. “This is what we should do on an average day.”
In other words, the Bruins are competing at the level Kondos Field expects them to.
“I told them to do normal,” Kondos Field said. “We do normal, we’re a good team. We do a little better than normal and we can compete for a national championship.”