Sounds of sniffles and scratchy noises of athletic tape being torn filled the Yates Gym at the John Wooden Center on Tuesday morning as the Bruins prepared for practice.
The UCLA gymnastics team is looking to recover from not only a tough meet in Chicago, but also colds and injuries.
No. 7 UCLA (7-1, 3-1 Pac-12) will travel to Corvallis, Ore., to face No. 8 Oregon State (6-0, 3-0) and California (4-3, 0-3) this weekend after a big win in Chicago last week.
The Beavers are ranked lower than the Bruins despite being undefeated, as gymnastics rankings are based on a team’s season average rather than its win-loss record. Oregon State’s season average is 196.305, which sits just a fraction of a point behind the UCLA’s 196.504.
In order to remedy the illnesses and injuries, coach Valorie Kondos Field canceled Tuesday’s practice and gave her team a day of rest.
“I think it was really good that we had the day off,” redshirt junior Alyssa Pritchett said. “A lot of us are getting over sickness and aches and pains here and there, so we took the day to rest our bodies mentally and physically, in every way.”
The Bruins are just past the halfway point of the season, and the grueling routines and practices took a major toll on their bodies.
“Midseason is always the toughest part to get through,” senior Aisha Gerber said. “Everybody’s a little tired, a little sore, and the end isn’t quite in sight yet, so we’re in the middle of the marathon. It takes mental discipline and focus.”
Oregon State gave the Bruins a tough time last year, as reigning conference champion Leslie Mak put up dominant numbers on all of her events. However, it is a new year and the Bruins have had marked improvements, scoring higher than they did last year.
“We’re more talented this year than we were last year,” Kondos Field said. “We have six people that can go 9.9, so our season average is higher. We’re still doing about the same level of gymnastics per our ability that we were doing last year, but we’re just a better team.”
These high scores mean that the Bruins are ready to get into the heat of the season.
“We’re on track,” Kondos Field said. “If we do normal gymnastics, we should be able to score in the high 196s, low 197s and that’s what we’re doing. It’s not extraordinary gymnastics, it’s normal.”
Kondos Fields cites landings on bars and vault and handstands on bars as focus points to fine tune in their next few meets. With only eight more meets left in the season, she just wants to perfect those details that make or break their performances.
“A season is a constant climb,” Gerber said. “You want to reach your peak at the Super Six at Nationals in April, not in March or February. There are little ups and downs, and you just keep pushing forward.”