Tuesday, May 26

Gymnastics takes first place at meet despite average performances

Sophomore Madison Kocian opened up the balance beam rotation tied for the lowest score on the team. Though the rest of the team was able to pick up the slack, Kocian said she believes they have room for improvement. (Aubrey Yeo/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Coach Valorie Kondos Field said she wanted to see her team put together four solidly executed events in a single meet. On Sunday, she got two and a half.

“We had some really good things out there and we had things we really need to get a handle on,” Kondos Field said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if they were making mistakes because they want it too much. We’ve done a really good job of keeping the intensity and intention on getting four great routines in one meet.”

Despite the ups and downs, No. 2 UCLA gymnastics (13-2, 3-1 Pac-12) cruised to a victory in the Masters Classic over No. 16 Nebraska (11-2, 5-0 Big Ten), No. 23 Iowa State (16-4, 1-1 Big 12) and Kent State (5-7, 2-3 MAC), scoring a 197.500.

The Bruins, who started on the balance beam, came back down to earth after the team’s event record performance last time out. Junior Brielle Nguyen and sophomore Madison Kocian opened the rotation with 9.750 scores.

The last four in the beam lineup picked up the slack, scoring 9.900 or higher. Redshirt senior Peng-Peng Lee closed the event with a meet-best 9.950, giving the team a 49.400 total score.

“We didn’t start how we should have,” Kondos Field said. “We’re a much better beam team than that. We’ve got to be able to start on any event and compete like it’s the last event.”

Floor exercise came next. Freshman Pauline Tratz, who was unable to compete last week, returned to the lineup. She picked up right where she left off, snatching a 9.925.

Sophomore Felicia Hano and junior Katelyn Ohashi, however, were the top performers in the event. Both nailed their tumbling passes and the judges rewarded them with matching 9.950s.

UCLA’s score for floor exercise was 49.575. The team was on pace for a score near the 198 range.

“Everyone did their job,” said redshirt freshman Anna Glenn. “Everyone was ready and dialed in. You couldn’t ask for more.”

But the vault has been a struggle for the Bruins as of late. Those struggles continued.

The landings, in general, were unclean. Tratz fell. Senior Napualani Hall couldn’t control her landing. Glenn was the outlier, as she scored a career-best 9.875.

No one scored a 9.900 on the event for the second meet in a row and the team posted its second-lowest vault score of the season – 49.050.

“I think it’s a confidence (thing),” Glenn said. “Everyone knows they can hit and everyone knows what they need to do.”

Kocian said she believes the scores have to do with the team trying to figure out what the best vault lineup is.

“Even if it doesn’t have as many 10 start-value vaults, I think we need to play with the code and play with the system and whatever is going to score best is going to benefit us,” Kocian said.

UCLA rebounded on the uneven bars. Lee scored a 9.925, and sophomore Kyla Ross – the day’s all-around champion – finished the meet with a 9.950 to give the team a 49.475 event score.

Overall, the Bruins scored a 197.500, just above the season average.

“It wasn’t what we were capable of,” Kocian said. “I think that’s going to keep us fired up for the rest of the season.”

Bribach joined the Bruin as a sophomore in 2016 and contributed until he graduated in 2018. He spent time on the gymnastics, women's basketball, women's soccer and beach volleyball beats.

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