Coming off their highest-scoring opening meet since 2005, the Bruins will face something different: a podium meet.
No. 2 UCLA gymnastics (1-0) will head to the Collegiate Challenge powered by Under Armour at the Anaheim Convention Center on Saturday, facing off against No. 9 California (0-1), No. 33 Michigan State (0-1) and No. 14 UC Davis.
The podium meet will provide the team with an opportunity to gain early experience on a platform that will be used during the postseason, as the surface is the same one used at the NCAA finals.
While some athletes who are new to collegiate competition will have a chance to acclimate to the platform for the first time, others are used to it from their experience in elite competition.
“I have competed in more podium meets than not,” said freshman Margzetta Frazier. “If anything, I like the podium better. It’s a little easier on the body. You get a little more bounce.”
The 197.250-point win exemplified many high-scoring performances, and the Bruins outscored the Cornhuskers in every event. A UCLA athlete placed first in all events but the uneven bars.
Compared to the other three events, the vault, in particular, was one of UCLA’s weaker performances against Nebraska, scoring 49.175 points.
“Vault has been one of our best events in practice,” said associate head coach Chris Waller. “The biggest challenge we have is that vault is going to be one of our best events, but right now we have a couple of ankles out and so those athletes are not gonna be in this weekend.”
Frazier was one of two freshmen to compete against Nebraska, with the other being Norah Flatley. Frazier posted a 9.875 on uneven bars, while Flatley posted a 9.825. Flatley also competed on vault and balance beam, garnering a 9.750 and 9.875, respectively.
Waller said he is confident in their ability to exceed that level in the coming meets.
“(The freshmen) did amazing last weekend, better than we expected,” Waller said. “We had high expectations during the week, then during warmups this weekend they were really weird, very quiet and just generally nervous, so we didn’t know exactly how they were gonna do. But they did amazing and they’re super fired up for this weekend.”
The freshmen are not the only ones excited for the rest of the season. For many athletes, the season is as much about enjoying it as finding success.
Senior Brielle Nguyen is one of the several seniors completing their final season for the Bruins. Nguyen competed on balance beam against the Cornhuskers, posting a 9.825, and said she is excited for the upcoming meet.
“Last weekend was a lot of fun,” Nguyen said. “I think we’re just gonna do the same thing, have a lot of fun with details and get better after every meet.”