Wednesday, May 27

UCLA gymnastics aims to ride Pac-12 success into NCAA regional

Pauline Tratz will be competing in her first NCAA regional this weekend. The freshman was named to the All Pac-12 second team for floor exercise this season. (Axel Lopez/Daily Bruin)

The Bruins have one last hurdle before reaching St. Louis and a shot at the national championship.

No. 3 UCLA gymnastics (22-2, 4-1 Pac-12) will compete in the NCAA regional in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday, hosted by No. 25 Ohio State (17-11, 3-4 Big Ten). Coach Valorie Kondos Field said the team gained a couple of competitors to add to their uneven bars rotation.

“(Sophomore) Madison Kocian is ready to come back in on uneven bars, as is (redshirt freshman) Grace Glenn,” Kondos Field said. “So we’ve got a really nice problem of who to put in, who’s going to be the best on that given day.”

UCLA and Ohio State will be part of a six-team meet along with No. 10 Arkansas (9-13, 2-5 Southeastern Conference), No. 15 Boise State (15-2, 4-1 Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference), Pittsburgh (7-18, 3-3 East Atlantic Gymnastics League) and Kent State (8-7, 3-3 Mid-American Conference).

The Bruins have secured victories against two teams in their regional, defeating the Ohio State Buckeyes in Westwood in the first meet of the season and the Kent State Golden Eagles at the Masters Classic in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Kondos Field’s team comes into the meet on the verge of competing in the Super Six for the third straight year.

“They’re dialed in. They’re having fun. They’re in a really good place mentally,” Kondos Field said. “This time of the season is going to be tough. They need to practice working through together, and they’ve done a really great job about that.”

Redshirt senior Peng-Peng Lee was awarded All-Pac-12 first-team honors on the uneven bars and balance beam for this season. She said that even though the team has been performing well, it needed this spring break to reset before the upcoming meet.

“There was a little bit of a dip after Pac-12, and I think that was needed. It is a nice mental break,” Lee said. “It was really good to dip it, take it all in and refresh our minds and get right back in and focus on a national championship.”

Freshman Pauline Tratz will be competing in her first NCAA regional. She said that although the Bruins have accomplished a few of their goals, they are far from over.

“We know that we achieved one of our big goals, winning the Pac-12 championship. But this is only the first step,” Tratz said. “We have to work hard, so we keep being focused in on the details and working harder so we can go out with a ring.”

The Bruins faltered on the uneven bars at the Pac-12 championships, scoring a 49.150, their lowest score on the event this season. Kondos Field said the Bruins will be aiming to complete all four events in Columbus with no mistakes.

“(Our goal is) to hit four events. We have not hit four events,” Kondos Field said. “There’s always one event that we don’t do well (in). Even (at) our last home meet, we had six people stay on beam, but they all had a major wobble.”

Assistant Sports editor

Perez is currently an assistant Sports editor on the men's volleyball, women's water polo and track and field beats. He was previously a staff writer on the football, gymnastics, beach volleyball, women's water polo and men's water polo beats.

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