When UCLA gymnastics visits Arizona on Saturday, junior Katelyn Ohashi will return to Tucson, a city memorable to her for all the right reasons and all the wrong reasons.
She won the all-around competition two years ago, but she also suffered a disastrous fall when the end of the beam broke off during her dismount.
When asked about her goals for this meet, she struggled to stop herself from laughing.
“Definitely not to fracture my sternum again,” Ohashi said. “And not to break the beam.”
This time around, the No. 4 Bruins (2-0) face off against the No.17 Wildcats (0-2) to open Pac-12 play.
Following two victories to open the season, UCLA is beginning to hit its stride. Coach Valorie Kondos Field said she liked what she saw from her team last week in Reno, but believes the possibility of a much higher score than 197.2 is there.
“Even though our score from last weekend was good, it was not anywhere near our potential,” Kondos Field said.
One promising factor lies in the vault, which has been the Bruins’ weakest event due to inconsistent performances from multiple gymnasts. All signs, including a 49.4 vault score in Reno, point to that no longer being an issue.
“This is the first year where we don’t have a weak event,” Kondos Field said. “In the last few years, our weakest has been vault. This year, we don’t have that problem. We’ve got a strong potential on every single event.”
UCLA may have a few lineup alterations in store for the Arizona meet.
Sophomore Madison Kocian has not competed this season after recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, but she could be in line for her season debut. According to Kondos Field, if Kocian gets cleared, she will step in on balance beam.
Kondos Field also said junior Stella Savvidou could be included in the floor exercise, where she scored a 9.8 or higher on a consistent basis last season.
Not all of the changes are good news. Sophomore Kyla Ross, the Bruins’ top scorer after two meets, sprained her toes and will likely be kept off the balance beam, meaning she will not be competing in all four events for the first time this season.
Despite the possible switches, the overall signs from the team’s training seem positive.
“We’re seeing them clean up and dial in landings, seeing them get more confident,” Kondos Field said. “We shouldn’t be excited when someone sticks a landing. That should be the norm and that should be our default.”
Senior JaNay Honest also likes what she sees and provided a numerical goal the team is shooting for.
“The goal is 197.5,” Honest said. “We can easily make up three-tenths from last meet.”