Gymnastics finishes last home meet with highest score of the season
Redshirt senior Peng-Peng Lee scored a 9.950 on balance beam in her last ever routine in Pauley Pavilion on Tuesday night. (Axel Lopez/Daily Bruin contributor)
By Jack Perez
March 13, 2018 10:49 p.m.
The Bruin seniors led their team to one last home victory Tuesday night.
Every senior that competed scored a 9.900 or better on each of their routines. They helped No. 3 UCLA gymnastics (15-2, 4-1 Pac-12) defeat San Jose State (11-11, 1-1 MPSF) by a score of 198.275 to 194.850 at Pauley Pavilion. This was their highest team score in 14 years.
The Bruins had their most consistent and highest-scoring meet of the season. They scored at least a 49.475 on each event, including season highs on the vault and uneven bars. Those season highs were also the fifth- and sixth-best scores of all time for UCLA on those events.
Coach Valorie Kondos Field has said in recent weeks the team still had not put together four great events in one meet. She said Tuesday was better, but the Bruins have not yet reached their potential.
“Our first two events were great, but beam was not great,” Kondos Field said. “(But) for them to have two meets in three days during (10th) week, and for them to have an off night and go 49.500, is great. It’s a great place to be.”
The Bruin seniors had four new career- or season-high scores. Senior Napualani Hall scored a new career high on vault with a meet-best score of 9.975. Senior Sonya Meraz tied and set new career highs on floor routine and uneven bars, respectively. Senior JaNay Honest had a new season high on uneven bars with a 9.900.
Redshirt senior Peng-Peng Lee scored a 9.950 on the balance beam and was carried around by her team in her final meet at Pauley after being on the team for six years. She said that she could not hold back the emotions after her final routine.
“I didn’t think I was going to get this emotional. I just felt so much love from the teammates and the crowd,” Lee said. “It’s so nice to see them follow my journey. It’s been a rough road. To be here and to know I’ve been a good leader to everyone is just amazing.”
Kondos Field cried after Lee’s balance beam routine. She said Lee is a one-of-a-kind gymnast and it will be impossible to replace her.
“There is not another gymnast in the world that does gymnastics like (Lee) does, with the freedom she does,” Kondos Field said. “When she’s done after the national championships, there’s going to be a hole. There are a lot of great athletes in the world that are very unique, but there is nobody like (Lee).”
The Bruins head to Tucson, Arizona, on March 24 to compete in the Pac-12 championships. Meraz said her team will recover and perfect its performances before that meet.
“We’re going to go back in the gym and probably take tomorrow off,” Meraz said. “Then (we will) work on the tiny little details we need to fix. Hopefully, we’ll get through that and be ready for Pac-12.”