This post was updated April 20 at 1:52 p.m.
ST. LOUIS—The Bruins have only one more hurdle to clear before they can become national champions.
No. 3 UCLA gymnastics (32-2, 4-1 Pac-12) advanced to the Super Six at the Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis. The team finished in first place with a final score of 197.5625 in the early semifinal, advancing along with No. 2 LSU (31-2, 7-0 SEC) and No. 7 Nebraska (15-8, 6-3 Big Ten).
The Bruins started the first rotation on the vault. Although there were a couple of stumbles, each gymnast scored between a 9.800 and 9.850, giving the Bruins a 49.1875 after one event. Coach Valorie Kondos Field said she was not worried about the score because she wanted her team to be stress free at the meet.
“I don’t look at stats at all. They really mean nothing to me,” Kondos Field said. “I had no idea we had to come back in the final rotation. Just enjoy every moment.”
After receiving a bye for the second rotation, the gymnasts competed on the uneven bars for the third. Anchored by sophomore Kyla Ross’ 9.950, the Bruins scored a 49.375 to top their 49.363 on the same event in last year’s semifinal. This moved the Bruins into second place behind the Tigers after two events.
UCLA took the lead after scoring a 49.5375 on the balance beam in the fourth rotation. The Bruins had three scores above a 9.9, led by redshirt senior Peng-Peng Lee’s, 9.9875. They held a 148.1000, and the Tigers, their closest competition, held a 147.9750.
Kondos Field said competing on the bouncier podium flooring earlier in the year at the Elevate the Stage and Metroplex Challenge meets helped her team stay calm.
“We competed twice on podium before tonight, so this was no different,” Kondos Field said. “There was no changing or altering of technique. That was really important to do.”
The Bruins finished up on the floor exercise on the sixth rotation. They came out consistently, with four scores between 9.8625 and 9.8875. Sophomore Felicia Hano stepped out during her routine, scoring a season-low 9.7625. However, junior Katelyn Ohashi scored a 9.9625, clinching the Bruin victory.
UCLA finished with the top score in the uneven bars, balance beam, floor exercise, and all-around in the first session. Ross finished with a 39.6375 to win the first all-around, improving on her 39.575 from this same meet last year. Kondos Field said that competing against top teams throughout the season calmed her team down in this meet.
“It’s important to go up against really tough teams,” Kondos Field said. “We met (LSU and Nebraska) during the regular season. All of that adds up to them being able to compete calmly and confidently.”
The Bruins will be back in action Saturday at 4 p.m., when they vie for a national title in the Super Six.