UCLA gymnastics hopes to improve upon already impressive season
Junior Kyla Ross won the all-around for the third consecutive meet against Arizona State on Monday, scoring 39.450. UCLA gymnastics will look to continue its undefeated start to the season when it travels to Stanford next weekend. (Liz Ketcham/Assistant Photo editor)
By Riley Segal
Jan. 23, 2019 12:16 a.m.
Three wins, three perfect 10s and three consecutive scores above 197 for the Bruins.
No. 2 UCLA gymnastics (2-0, 1-0 Pac-12) scored a season high of 197.775 against No. 19 Arizona State (1-1, 0-1), marking the first time in school history that the Bruins have scored above 197 in the first three meets of the season.
But coach Valorie Kondos Field, who did not even realize UCLA had broken a record, said she is looking for more.
“I don’t really keep track of scores, so that’s really cool,” Kondos Field said. “The best part is that we haven’t really hit a great meet yet. We’ve had good meets, but we haven’t hit four events fabulously altogether.”
Junior Madison Kocian echoed her coach’s sentiment.
“We’ve had good, solid meets, but I think that’s our default right now,” Kocian said. “We’re at a really good point right now, and it’s only the third meet, so I think we need to pace ourselves like we did last year.”
Kocian started off the season with a 9.825 on bars before working up to her perfect 10 against the Sun Devils.
UCLA gymnasts have consistently posted high scores, collectively garnering an event score of 49.075 or above in all events. Freshman Norah Flatley received a 9.975 on bars against the Sun Devils and three athletes – freshman Margzetta Frazier, junior Kyla Ross and senior Katelyn Ohashi – registered a 9.950 on floor. Ohashi and Ross also each notched a perfect 10 apiece on floor and uneven bars, respectively, during the Collegiate Challenge.
Floor has been one of the Bruins’ strongest events throughout the season. Against Nebraska and during the Collegiate Challenge, floor yielded UCLA’s highest event scores at 49.550 and 49.700, respectively. Only during the Arizona State meet was its score second to another event, and even then the scores were close – 49.700 on the uneven bars and 49.650 on floor. At least two Bruins posted a 9.950 or above on floor each meet.
“The amount of hard work that goes not only into our tumbling but into our dance and our characters and our floor routine, that’s something that we really cherish,” Ross said. “It’s really cool to be able to embody a character and perform.”
UCLA has also been diversifying the lineup as the season progresses due to injuries. Junior Grace Glenn has not competed since facing off against the Cornhuskers, though freshman Sekai Wright made her debut against the Sun Devils once healed.
“We’ve been doing a lot of lineup changes, just trying to get people a little more competition (and) practice,” Kocian said. “Once our lineups are solidified then we’ll really show how intense we can be and how high of a score we can get.”
Aside from aiming for an upward trajectory, the team is also aware that its days with Kondos Field are dwindling down – but that does not change the Bruins’ mindset.
“I think every single member on this team is really just trying to take in every moment with Miss Val,” Kocian said. “I don’t know necessarily that we’re thinking ‘Oh, it’s Miss Val’s last year, we have to win for her.’ We’re challenging ourselves to be better than we were the meet before. That’s what’s really making us where we’re at right now and I think there’s only even more to come for the rest of the season.”
For her last season at UCLA, Kondos Field does have one final goal.
“We’ve never gone undefeated,” she said. “UCLA gymnastics has never done it. That’s something new for me. I’d like to do that before retiring.”