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Gymnastics leaps ahead of No. 4 Utah to continue season’s win streak

Junior Kyla Ross notched her third perfect score of the season on the uneven bars against Utah on Saturday. Ross has now posted a 10 in each of her last four meets. (MacKenzie Coffman/Assistant Photo editor)


No. 2 UCLA198.025
No. 4 Utah197.625

By Cassidy Hunt

February 23, 2019 5:06 pm

The Utes’ student section covered its faces with newspapers during the Bruins’ performances.

But the fans could not resist peaking their eyes out a few times to catch a glimpse of UCLA’s routines.

No. 2 UCLA gymnastics (7-0, 6-0 Pac-12) handed No. 4 Utah (7-1, 5-1) its first loss of the season in front of a sold-out crowd of 15,558 in Salt Lake City on Saturday. The 198.025-197.625 win was the Bruins’ first dual-meet victory over the Utes since 2016.

“One hundred ninety-eight and above can definitely be (our new normal) because they’re dialed in,” said coach Valorie Kondos Field. “They’re in their zone. They’re excited but they’re not nervous, and that stuff only comes with great preparation, which they have as well.”

Junior Kyla Ross posted her third 10 on uneven bars. Ross has recorded a perfect score in each of her last four meets and owns a total of five 10s this season − half her career total.

Ross took the top spot on vault and tied Utah’s Mykayla Skinner for first on beam. Ross’ all-around score of 39.775 is second nationally this season, only to her career-best score of 39.850, which she posted last weekend.

“(A 10 on beam) is definitely in my sights,” Ross said. “I thought today was one of my best beam routines. I felt really calm, even under the pressure of having to go up after (junior Madison Kocian’s) fall.”

Ross is ranked in the top five nationally for all four events and is ranked No. 1 on all-around. As an individual this season, the former Olympian has more perfect scores than every other team in the country combined. As of Saturday, No. 1 Oklahoma has recorded three 10s as a team and Lynnzee Brown of No. 6 Denver has scored one 10 on floor exercise.

“(Ross) is in the stratosphere with the greats,” Kondos Field said. “She’s with LeBron, with Kobe, with Simone Biles, the greats. (Ross) is of that caliber in every single thing she does − physical, social, as a human being − she’s just amazing.”

For the second week in a row, senior Katelyn Ohashi clinched the win and the 198.025 for the Bruins with her final routine. Ohashi posted 9.925s on both floor and balance beam.

“For (Ohashi) to be able to do the gymnastics that she is doing, week after week, with her body, as beat up as it is, it’s just a testament to the fact that she really is a mature athlete,” Kondos Field said. “I am so honored because she is still so coachable. She looks me in the eye and she takes it all in. It’s remarkable.”

Ohashi recorded her lowest floor routine score of the season − 9.925 − Saturday. She tied with Skinner and Sydney Soloski of Utah for first on floor. In Ohashi’s six previous floor routines, she has averaged a 9.979.

Ohashi posted a 9.800 on vault in her second vault performance of the year. Before last week, she had not competed on vault since Feb. 25, 2018.

Freshman Norah Flatley scored a 9.900 on beam after Kocian’s fall caused her to post a 9.225.

“I don’t want to let a fall affect me at all,” Flatley said. “It’s no big deal. Accidents happen and I just do what I need to do for my team. It was fun.”

Junior Felicia Hano tied for first on vault with Utah’s MaKenna Merrell-Giles with a 9.950.

Both teams posted 49.375 or above on all four events, extending UCLA’s streak of events with scores of 49 or above to 48 − the highest in the country. The Bruins won by just .400, the lowest deficit by an opponent of UCLA this season.

“It’s always a little bit different coming to Utah because their fans are so passionate about their team,” Ross said. “That’s why all week we talked about staying in our Bruin bubble and controlling only what we can control, and it worked.”

The meet was Utah’s highest-scoring meet of the season by .250.

The Bruins next meet No. 1 Oklahoma (5-0) on the road March 3.

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Cassidy Hunt | Sports staff
Hunt is currently a Sports staff writer on the gymnastics beat. She was previously a reporter on the women's soccer, women's water polo and swim & dive beats.
Hunt is currently a Sports staff writer on the gymnastics beat. She was previously a reporter on the women's soccer, women's water polo and swim & dive beats.
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