Kyla Ross is the first person in the history of NCAA gymnastics to complete two gym slams in one season.
The junior finished her second one with perfect scores on three different events at the NCAA regionals.
No. 2 UCLA gymnastics (9-1) finished first in the NCAA regional final in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to earn a spot in the 2019 NCAA championships. Ross scored a perfect 10 in the regional semifinal Friday and two perfect 10s in the regional final Saturday to propel the Bruins to victory.
Also advancing from the Ann Arbor regional to the championships is No. 7 Michigan (5-2).
“This was really good for them,” said coach Valorie Kondos Field. “Everyone knows mind over matter, and as we go to national championships, they know that they can do this. The whole weekend was really great for their morale. It was exactly the type of meet you want to have before going to the next two rounds.”
UCLA and No. 14 Nebraska (5-3) took the top spots in the second session of the regional semifinal to advance to Saturday’s final.
The Bruins placed first in Friday’s regional semifinal with a 197.675, behind a perfect 10 on vault by Ross. UCLA took first in every event at the meet.
In the semifinal, Ross took the individual title on vault and uneven bars, and shared the balance beam title with senior Katelyn Ohashi. Sophomore Pauline Tratz and junior Gracie Kramer each took a share of the floor title along with Nebraska’s Sienna Crouse.
“We have a team that is able to not know if we are in the lineup, then be thrown in at the last minute and still hit a great routine,” Ross said. “I know that is something that not a lot of teams do. My freshman year, I was so not used to that. I would be like ‘Miss Val, why can’t you just tell me if I am competing or not?’ But, it gives people the opportunity to know that when they are ready, they can really hit it.”
UCLA met Michigan, No. 10 Alabama (5-4) and Nebraska in the regional final.
Ross scored her second balance beam perfect 10 of the season in her first routine of the night. In her fourth routine – uneven bars – Ross scored her 14th perfect score of the season.
With a 10 on beam, the former Olympian totals at least two 10s in each event this year.
“The thing that is most amazing about (Ross) is that her teammates have so much respect for her,” Kondos Field said. “There is no jealousy and it is because of who she is and her character. They joke about it in the locker room and say that if they were (Ross), they would probably have a huge ego, but (Ross) just doesn’t.”
Ross has also extended her streak of meets with a perfect score to 10. The last time the junior did not score a 10 in a meet was Jan. 27, and there have only been three meets this season in which Ross has not achieved perfection on at least one event.
UCLA has been awarded at least one perfect 10 in all but two meets this season. With 21 perfect scores this season, the Bruins have more 10s than every other team in the NCAA combined.
The Bruins were in second place after their first rotation in the final, despite Ross’ perfect 10 and a team score of 49.400 on balance beam. A fall by leadoff junior Grace Glenn put the pressure on for the rest of the beam routines.
“I noticed normal (after the fall),” Kondos Field said. “When (senior Brielle Nguyen) is in a good place, she dances. As soon as I saw her dancing, I knew we were good. They weren’t playing safe, they still went big and they just trusted their training.”
The Bruins took the lead after their second rotation – floor exercise. UCLA leads the country on floor this season.
UCLA won every event but beam in Saturday’s final and recorded a team score of 198.075.
Ross, sophomore Nia Dennis and Tratz tied for first place on vault with Nebraska’s Taylor Houchin, Ross and Ohashi shared the floor title and Ross took first on both beam and bars. Ross finished the finals with a 39.850 all-around score, tying her high score this season.
The Bruins will attempt to defend their national title at the NCAA championships in Fort Worth, Texas in two weeks.
“What I think we have done really well at this point in the season is identify what our weaknesses are and attack them head on,” said senior Macy Toronjo. “We have also been able to accept vulnerability which is scary, but it has shaped us into a winning team.”