Sunday, January 26

UCLA gymnastics trains for NCAA championships, stays upbeat

UCLA gymnastics scored 49.500 on uneven bars and won its NCAA regional. The Bruins will compete in the semifinals of the NCAA Gymnastics Championships on Friday and will attempt to qualify for the Super Six, which will take place on Saturday. (Michael Zshornack/Daily Bruin Photo editor)

Coach Valorie Kondos Field said she believes her team is prepared.

“They’re ready,” Kondos Field said. “I told the coaching staff that I wish nationals was last weekend because they’re ready.”

No. 3 UCLA gymnastics (22-2) travels to St. Louis for the final two rounds of the 2018 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships, beginning with the semifinal round Friday.

For the most part, training has gone according to plan. Kondos Field said her team has maintained its enthusiasm throughout the season and has even taken it up a notch.

“They’re bringing the same energy, the same focus,” Kondos Field said. “They’re all dialed in but at a whole other level.”

The primary focus in training was not on individual routines but on gymnasts hitting routines one after the other, like they would need to in a high-stakes meet.

For example, on the uneven bars, the athletes were split into pairs. Once a pair hit routines back to back, they could finish. If they didn’t, then they needed to do it again until they both completed their routines without a hitch.

“We all know we can hit our routines individually,” said senior JaNay Honest. “But it’s about doing it consecutively throughout the meet and that’s been a challenge for us.”

Preparation, however, has seen a few hitches.

Sophomore Madison Kocian completed her first competitive bar routine in almost a year during the last meet. This week, Kondos Field said Kocian has struggled somewhat with her confidence in her favored event but sees her overcoming it and competing in three events for the second time this season.

Sophomore Kyla Ross was recently the victim of theft. Her car was broken into last Sunday night and her backpack and laptop were stolen, but that hasn’t cut into her energy.

“For her to come in and put that behind her (is impressive),” Kondos Field said.

Underclassmen like sophomore Gracie Kramer will be getting their first opportunity to contribute deep into the championship run.

“I’m feeling a little nervous, but I’m really excited for the experience,” said freshman Nia Dennis. “I can’t wait to compete.”

Honest also struggled to contain her excitement.

“I’m excited to go this time. We’re actually able to contend for the title,” Honest said. “It’s not like we’re going to go to Super Six and see what happens. This time, we can actually win this thing. It’s a different feeling.”

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