Facing their first Pac-12 road meet, the Bruins did not let the Wildcat fans get to them as they secured their third-straight victory to start the season.
No. 4 UCLA gymnastics (3-0, 1-0 Pac-12) topped No. 17 Arizona (0-3, 0-1) with a score of 197.300 to 195.750 in Tucson, Arizona. This set a new season high for the Bruins, which topped their last outing by one 10th of a point.
Coach Valorie Kondos Field said her team came out great in its first Pac-12 meet of the season, noting that this part of the year is when teams start to lose their initial burst.
“It was great because normally, (in) your first and second meets, your team is going, they’re very excited. Now, your third, fourth, fifth meet, you have to kind of watch it,” Kondos Field said. “That’s (when) the initial adrenaline starts to die. So we coaches were really paying attention to that. We needed to take it one event at a time.”
UCLA jumped out to a quick lead after the first rotation. The Bruins notched a 49.250 on uneven bars, led by sophomore Kyla Ross who scored 9.925.
UCLA kept its lead through the vault. Sophomore Felicia Hano, after an early fall on the uneven bars, bounced back to earn a 9.900 on vault. Hano emphasized that she got her nerves out after the bars and moved on from it.
“It was my first time competing on bars as a Bruin, so I was pretty nervous,” Hano said. “But I knew that if I made mistakes, my team was going to be behind me. After I finished, (associate head coach Chris Waller) told me, ‘Don’t worry about it. … Next time you’re going to kill it.’”
The third rotation extended the Bruins’ lead even further. Hano and freshman Pauline Tratz both scored a 9.900 for the Bruins on their floor routines to make the scores 147.775 to 146.675 in favor of UCLA.
The Bruins saved their top score for last, ending with a season-high 49.525 on the balance beam, improving from last week’s 49.050 on the same event. Kondos Field credited this improvement to her getting on the team this week in practice, not its placement in the rotation.
“It was me getting pissed off at them. We should be going 49.6 on beam every single time we compete,” Kondos Field said. “Last week, in Reno, everybody stayed on, but we didn’t hit. They were shaky, wobbly. I came down on them during the week, and they responded.”
Junior Katelyn Ohashi took the all-around competition with a 39.450. She said coming into the meet she was excited to do all four events.
“Honestly, I was pretty excited to do all-around since it’s been around two years since I did all around,” Ohashi said. “I wanted to go in and do my best and improve on everything.”