Valorie Kondos Field said she has complete trust in her team.
“This year we’ve trusted that they’re living as champions and making choices of champions, even on their days off,” the coach said. “I think we’re seeing the results of that in competitions.”
After recording its highest score – yet its narrowest win – of the season against No. 11 Oregon State (1-2, 1-2 Pac-12), No. 3 UCLA gymnastics (4-0, 3-0) will face No. 15 Washington (2-2, 2-1) in Seattle on Sunday.
Washington has faced No. 25 Arizona, No. 24 Stanford, No. 16 Nebraska and Oregon State so far this season, defeating the Wildcats and the Cardinal. Of those opponents, the Bruins have notched wins over all of them except for the Wildcats, who UCLA has yet to face. Washington’s highest score of the season is a 196.525 compared to UCLA’s 197.900.
“Our goal for this past meet at Oregon (State) was just to go big, so I think a lot of mistakes happened by (doing that),” said sophomore Kendal Poston. “(However), those are good mistakes and now that we’ve got that out of the way we can dial it back in and focus on better landings (and) cleaner skills.”
Kondos Field said she is still waiting for UCLA to reach the goal she set last week – posting a perfect 10 in every event.
“I think (it is) a fun challenge for them to strive for even though it’s contrary to how we compete,” Kondos Field said. “(But) we tell them, ‘Don’t strive for perfection because it doesn’t exist, strive for excellence and the illusion of perfection,’ and I think that’ll be really fun if we can get that accomplished.”
Junior Kyla Ross garnered another perfect 10 for the Bruins on uneven bars Saturday. Junior Madison Kocian and sophomore Nia Dennis were just shy of perfect scores, with a 9.975 apiece on uneven bars and balance beam, respectively.
Midway through the season, UCLA has amassed more attention from the public and will face tougher competition in upcoming meets. However, the athletes hone in on a precedent they set at the beginning of the season: having fun.
“(We try) to focus on having fun because as soon as you overthink, you feel the pressure and you get stressed,” said sophomore Pauline Tratz. “(We) just focus on something different because we’ve done this so many times and we know that it’s in us.”
The third consecutive away meet also marks the homecoming of Seattle-native senior Katelyn Ohashi.
Ohashi is expected to be back in the floor lineup against Washington, and Tratz said she anticipates that her presence will draw in a crowd.
“I’m excited,” Tratz said. “(Ohashi) became a rival (when she came to UCLA) so I hope there will be a lot of fans, and we just show the crowd how we perform.”