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UCLA gymnastics improves on beam following low score at second meet

Senior Gracie Kramer said that after No. 3 UCLA gymnastics scored sub-49 on balance beam in its first two meets of the season, the Bruins were eager to start off on the event in their tri-meet versus No. 15 BYU and No. 34 Utah State on Saturday, hoping to start off the competition on a high note. (Amy Dixon/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Cassidy Hunt

January 22, 2020 12:49 am

In their second meet of the season, the Bruins posted their lowest balance beam score in almost four years.

But on Saturday, they increased their score on the event by almost an entire point and took home first place on beam for the first time this season in the process.

No. 3 UCLA gymnastics (2-0) posted back-to-back sub-49 scores on balance beam in its first two meets of the year after suffering multiple falls in both competitions, but scored a 49.375 on the event in a tri-meet against No. 15 BYU and No. 34 Utah State on Saturday.

“From the get-go, the entire team – not just the beam team – brought confidence to (balance beam) and they just kept it going from there,” said coach Chris Waller. “The bottom line is, the work that we put in during the week showed, and they worked their tails off during the week to figure out how to get that flow going again and it worked.”

At the Bruins’ season opener earlier this month, seniors Felicia Hano and Grace Glenn – who led off on beam – each lost their balance, suffered falls and scored 9.175 and 9.075, respectively.

Despite a personal best of 9.950 for sophomore Samantha Sakti in her UCLA debut and another 9.950 from senior Kyla Ross, the Bruins lost their lead in the meet and posted a 48.500 – breaking a 2-year streak of scores over 49.

Ross said that because they knew that their score would count, the rest of the beam squad dialed in to support their team after the falls.

“Beam is definitely one of the harder events to compete,” Ross said. “We’ve been training really hard, and our beam lineup is so new. But, people performed really well after the falls despite the pressure (after) we got into that kind of tricky situation on beam with the first two people falling.”

The following week, when UCLA faced then-No. 22 Boise State, the Bruins suffered two more falls on beam and were not given full credit on a third routine, earning them three straight scores 9.400 or below.

The Bruins posted a 48.400 team score on balance beam – the only event that they surrendered to the Broncos – despite a career-best 9.975 from Glenn.

UCLA, which finished the 2019 season ranked No. 2 on balance beam, dropped to No. 39 on the event after the second week of competition.

“This week, especially after the last two weekends, the beam team had to switch around the order and some of the lineups,” said senior Madison Kocian. “Each day they worked really hard to get into their rhythm and their flow to show themselves that we are a better beam team than what we had been showing.”

On Saturday, the Bruins were handed balance beam as their first rotation of the night.

Senior Gracie Kramer said that although UCLA is not used to performing on beam so early in the meet, the Bruins were eager to prove themselves.

“I think it was a really cool thing for us to start on beam,” Kramer said. “We’ve been working really hard in the gym and they’ve all really been itching to get back out there and prove their true talent, because obviously (the first two meets were) definitely not reflective of their ability.”

For the first time this season, the Bruins surpassed 49 on the event en route to a season-high score of 197.425. UCLA didn’t post a single score below 9.800 and hit six out of six routines – including a 9.900 for Sakti and an event-winning 9.975 for Ross.

As a result of their improvement on balance beam, the Bruins have now moved up to the No. 25 spot in the national rankings on the event, but Waller said they still have work to do in training to continue their success.

“That was a great competition,” Waller said. “But, I really want to continue dialing the details like this so we can keep pushing everybody to higher and higher scores.”

UCLA will have a chance to further improve its beam performance on Monday against No. 25 Stanford (0-1) in the Cardinal’s home opener.

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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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