Gymnastics wins second straight Pac-12 title, posts highest national score of season
Junior Kyla Ross and senior Katelyn Ohashi both scored perfect 10s on floor exercise to clinch the Pac-12 championship for UCLA gymnastics Saturday night. (Amy Dixon/Photo editor)
By Cassidy Hunt
Mar. 23, 2019 7:59 pm
This post was updated March 23 at 9:09 p.m.
WEST VALLEY CITY, Ut. — The Bruins are Pac-12 Champions – again.
No. 2 UCLA gymnastics (9-1, 7-0 Pac-12) won the Pac-12 Women’s Gymnastics Championships in West Valley City, Utah, on Saturday night for the second straight year. The Bruins met No. 6 Utah, No. 12 Oregon State and No. 14 California in the second session of the Championships and took home the win with a score of 198.400 – the highest score posted by any team this season.
“I should say ‘Woo hoo, season-high score!’ But, it’s really not about the score,” said coach Valorie Kondos Field. “It’s about going head-to-head in competition and making sure we leave with no regrets. We were able to do that. We have room to grow, but we are competing very well.”
The Bruins were behind after one rotation, trailing the Utes by .150. Each of Utah’s five uneven bars scores met or exceeded 9.900, while UCLA boasted five scores above 9.850 on vault.
After the second rotation, the Bruins took the lead and kept it for the remainder of the competition.
UCLA tied its second-best uneven bars score of the season with a 49.650, behind a perfect 10 from the event champion – junior Kyla Ross.
“I am always working on something to get better each week,” Ross said. “And I think that is still the mentality that I am going for. I’m not thinking about the score, I’m thinking about what I’m going to do to get better each time.”
But bars wasn’t Ross’s only 10 of the night. She notched another on floor exercise, marking her second straight perfect score on the event.
Ross has scored a 10 in each of her last eight meets and has recorded a total of 11 perfect scores this season. UCLA owns more than half of all perfect scores recorded in the NCAA this season.
“(Ross) is what sport is all about,” Kondos Field said. “Get your ego out of it, and just do the best you can, in the moment. And she does.”
Junior Grace Glenn and senior Brielle Nguyen tied their career bests on balance beam en route to a 49.550 on the event. Glenn and senior Katelyn Ohashi finished as co-champions on the event.
Following the third rotation, UCLA led by just .050. Utah’s MyKayla Skinner’s first perfect 10 of the season on floor was not enough to pull ahead of the Bruins.
The Bruins posted a 49.775 on floor exercise – their second highest floor score of the season. Both Ross and Ohashi scored perfect 10s on floor for the second week in a row, though UCLA clinched the win before Ohashi began her brand-new Tina Turner-, Beyonce- and Janet Jackson-inspired routine.
“In the moment, I realized that this was the first time that I was actually tumbling in this new routine,” Ohashi said. “I had to really time out my breathing and figure out how to get the snap on time, the clap on time. A lot of people asked if I was nervous to change it, but I know today I felt the calmest I have ever felt competing, strangely.”
The Bruins’ 198.400 is the highest score in the NCAA since 2015 and sets a new Pac-12 Gymnastics Championship record.
“Of course, I love to win out,” Kondos Field said. “But, the whole night I kept telling myself to stop focusing on the win and focus on my relationships with the student-athletes, because that is the most important thing. As a coach, the competitiveness kicks in, but then you miss the moments, and I don’t want to miss any moments before they’re gone.”
UCLA will have a week off before heading to the NCAA regionals on April 4.