On Sunday, UCLA gymnastics became the fourth program to surpass the 198 mark this season. En route to joining this elite group, comprised of No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 LSU, and No. 5 Florida, the team claimed a resounding victory over Oregon State.
Despite the dominance exhibited by the No. 3 Bruins (10-2, 4-1 Pac-12) over the No. 8 Beavers (4-3, 3-3) in the final results, the 198 seemed unreachable at the start.
“We are really, really, really good and we have yet to put all together at one meet,” said coach Valorie Kondos Field. “It’s nice to get out of here healthy – that’s the number one thing – and knowing that there’s room to grow.”
UCLA got off to a slow start on vault. No one scored above a 9.875 and the team had to count a 9.75 in the event tally, which came to 49.125. That was its second-lowest vault score of the season.
At the time, Oregon State claimed the early advantage, scoring a 49.150 on its first rotation.
“We’ve struggled with our first event all season,” said sophomore Kyla Ross. “We come out and play tight. Once we get into the next events, we’re into it and back to our normal selves.”
The Bruins began to step it up a notch on the uneven bars. Freshman Nia Dennis led off with a 9.9 and redshirt senior Peng-Peng Lee closed the event with a 9.975, giving them a 49.45 score on the second rotation.
Their running score for the meet was 98.575. They were on pace for the low- to mid-197 range.
When junior Brielle Nguyen fell off the beam to start the third rotation, the 198 once again seem out of the team’s grasp.
Then, sophomore Madison Kocian turned in 9.875. That would be the last UCLA score below 9.9 for the remainder of the meet.
Redshirt freshman Grace Glenn kick-started a run of four consecutive 9.95 scores or higher on the balance beam. Both Lee and junior Katelyn Ohashi narrowly missed out on perfect scores.
The Bruins tied the school record on balance beam set in 2003 at 49.725.
“That was exciting to see,” Ohashi said. “Even though we had our first person fall and it didn’t start how we wanted it to, that’s where we thrive. That’s when you have to really hone in and be like, ‘We’re going to get this done one way or another.’”
That said, the running score was at 148.3. They needed to put up a similar performance on floor exercise to make a 198 score.
And they did.
Every score topped a 9.9, including Kocian’s first floor routine of the season. Dennis missed out on perfection by a small margin. Ohashi did not. She hit all three of her tumbling passes and infused the arena with energy, and both judges awarded her a 10.
“I didn’t expect it,” Ohashi said. “I knew it felt really good, but the judges were a little bit tough today – not letting anything slide. I was hoping 9.975. Seeing the 10 was pretty exciting.”
The perfect score raised UCLA’s floor rotation score to 49.775, equaling the third-highest score in school history.
The overall score was 198.075.
“I heard someone say 198 and I was like, ‘That’s not possible,’” Ohashi said. “I didn’t think our first two events were that good, but we brought it back. That shows that we’re pretty good.”
Kondos Field said she was unsurprised by the team’s big numbers on the last two events.
“It’s about time,” Kondos Field said. “We are stacked on balance beam and floor. That should be a normal day for us.”