It was not a grand finale but a consistent one.
No. 7 UCLA gymnastics closed its regular season on a seven-win streak with a victory over No. 18 Arkansas by a score of 197.175 to 195.900.
Beyond the long streak of wins, this is also the sixth consecutive win with a total score of 197 or higher. The score of the night, 197.175, continues the Bruins’ momentum from their last home meet of the season on March 7, when they defeated Stanford with a season-high score of 197.950.
Despite the absence of statistical improvement, the team performed well through various changes in the environment. The Bruins carried the stress of upcoming finals, traveled to another city and performed without coach Valorie Kondos Field – who was recovering from minor surgery – yet still performed with competence.
“There were number of things that the team could have collapsed (on) but they did a great job,” said associate coach Chris Waller. “It wasn’t perfect but still solid.”
The team once again displayed its flexibility by putting forth a varied lineup. Usual vault anchor, fifth-year senior Jordan Williams, only competed on the balance beam and contributed a 9.775. Replacing Williams’s place on vault, freshman LaNiesha-Jopré Irvin added a 9.850 to the total score.
Additionally, the Arkansas audience was deprived of junior Danusia Francis’ floor routine, but got to see performances by sophomore Mikaela Gerber and freshman Napualani Hall.
“We have great depth on our team,” said junior Sophina DeJesus. “It’s really fun to see who’s going to come in.”
With some variations added, the team displayed its capacity for consistency.
“I think on our first event we had a bit of energy and we picked it up on vault,” DeJesus said. “It was a good end to our regular season.”
The gymnasts will focus on their studies during finals week before the Pac-12 Championship on March 21 in Utah. This will be UCLA’s first event of the postseason, after which the team will head into another week of training and preparation for the NCAA championship.
“We have a specific regimen that we are going to do during the week.” said redshirt senior Samantha Peszek. “It’s been working really well. I think we are just going to keep it the same.”