Wednesday, May 27

Nick’s Notes: UCLA Athletics gaining momentum, bringing home national titles

UCLA's year-long national championship draught ended in December with men's water polo's win over USC and since then Bruin teams – gymnastics and beach volleyball – have taken titles, giving the university 116 overall. (Daniel Leibowitz/Daily Bruin staff)

As a transfer student, my time at UCLA is half that of the typical four years.

Transfers have to settle for half the classes, half the experiences and perhaps most tragically of all, half the number of sporting events as a student.

My shortened time here only made it all the more bitter when, in my first year as a Bruin, UCLA’s storied athletics didn’t bring home a single national title.

Almost a year ago, women’s water polo lost the NCAA championship to Stanford. Not only was that UCLA’s best shot at bringing home a championship over the 2016-17 school year – the loss also meant that Stanford had tied us for the most national championship victories at 113 apiece.

It was deja vu all over again on Dec. 3 of last year when women’s soccer lost to – you guessed it – Stanford in the NCAA championship. It was a rough morning.

The Cardinal then had 114 titles, and the loss only reaffirmed the idea that UCLA had gone from “great” to just “good” over the last few years.

[Related: Gott’s Thoughts: The search for No. 114 affirms good-not-great status of UCLA Athletics]

But just a few hours later, men’s water polo defeated USC and took home championship victory No. 114. The Bruins were tied with Stanford yet again, but more importantly, UCLA Athletics got the jump-start it desperately needed.

From that moment on, the Bruins have been on a roll.

Since December, every single Bruin team except for rowing has made it to their respective postseasons and two have gone all the way.

The last time the Bruins won three titles in the same academic year was over the course of the 2007-08 academic year. Back then, women’s tennis, women’s water polo and men’s golf all went the distance.

Now, for the first time in a decade, Bruins have had a year of athletics they can truly boast about.

Gymnastics won No. 115 with a dramatic comeback over Oklahoma, and beach volleyball secured UCLA’s 116th title in early May – the program’s first-ever national championship win.

At one point during their respective seasons, men’s tennis, softball, women’s golf, beach volleyball and men’s volleyball were ranked No. 1 in the nation.

This year has been much better for athletics at UCLA, and the signs that this upward trend will continue are good. It has to since, at the time of publication, Stanford still has the edge on UCLA in total championships.

Football famously signed coach Chip Kelly, men’s soccer has the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation according to Top Drawer Soccer, and softball is still in hunt for No. 117, though it remains to be seen if they can weather the storm of the Women’s College World Series.

Win or lose, it’s safe to say that this year’s transfers have had a much better first half.

Yekikian joined the Bruin as a junior transfer in 2016 and contributed until he graduated in 2018. He was an assistant Sports editor for the 2017-2018 academic year and spent time on the softball, men's soccer, women's volleyball, track and field, cross country and rowing beats.

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