On Saturday, the Bruins’ gymnastics squad left Corvallis, Oregon, with their highest score of the season – 197.325.
As the team looks to build on the momentum from the Oregon State meet next weekend against Arizona State, it also recognizes a need to improve in key events.
“We need to improve on floor and vault, for sure,” said coach Valorie Kondos Field.
Despite a much-improved showing against the Beavers – a 49.200 team score – floor exercise remains UCLA’s weakest link four weeks into the season. Considering Kondos Field’s strength in choreography and the team’s past success in the event, the struggles on floor are an anomaly.
Part of that is due to injury.
Senior Angi Cipra has yet to compete for the Bruins this season, while sophomore Madison Preston and freshman Felicia Hano have missed the last two meets.
“We’ve got three of our biggest vaulters and tumblers out,” Kondos Field said. “Those three were the end of our lineup for vault and floor.”
Freshman Kyla Ross, to a lesser extent, was also bitten by the injury bug. So far, this has prevented her from competing on floor exercise this season. She hopes to change that.
“We definitely improved the past two weeks on floor, but floor is something UCLA is known for, so we just need to improve,” Ross said. “I’m hoping to get on floor soon.”
Cipra may also get her first opportunity to help UCLA up the ante on floor against Arizona State, with Preston rejoining the squad in the coming weeks.
“Angi should be coming back into the lineup next week, and we’re hoping to have Preston back in two or three weeks,” Kondos Field said.
Getting Cipra, an All-American on floor exercise last year, and Preston, who put up high scores on vault and floor against Arkansas, back will help solidify the lineup heading into the mid-season stretch.
Their absence from the scoresheet also carries over to vault, the second-lowest scoring event for the Bruins.
Aside from health, start values also present a problem on vault.
“Vault is something we need to improve on, having no 10.0 start values,” Ross said. “We’re definitely working on upgrading to get a few 10.0 vaults.”
An increase in start values, if the execution levels hold steady, has the potential to raise the team’s score on vault.
The team’s landings also have room for improvement. Against the Beavers, the Bruins left a handful of points on the table by not hitting their landings on every event except the uneven bars.
“On vault and floor, our landings (can be improved), landing and really selling it,” said junior JaNay Honest.