UCLA gymnastics ready to face Arizona coming off first loss of season
Junior Savannah Kooyman and No. 5 UCLA gymnastics will have a chance to bounce back from the Bruins’ first loss of the season when they host No. 20 Arizona on Sunday afternoon at Pauley Pavilion. (Axel Lopez/Daily Bruin senior staff)
No. 20 Arizona
Sunday, 2 p.m.
By Riley Segal
Feb. 7, 2020 1:12 a.m.
The Bruins are out for redemption.
No. 5 UCLA gymnastics (3-1, 1-1 Pac-12) will take on No. 20 Arizona (1-3,0-2) on Sunday in Pauley Pavilion.
The meet comes off the heels of the Bruins’ first loss of the season to No. 11 Washington (3-0, 2-0) last weekend, and junior Savannah Kooyman said the team is rebounding.
“We’ve definitely moved forward – we’re (not) focusing on the loss at all,” said Kooyman. “We know how to do our routines and we know we’re so much better than what we showed (versus Washington). We’re really excited to get back out there and show our fans and everyone what we’re capable of.”
Coach Chris Waller said that UCLA’s defeat was especially challenging especially because it came after a physically and emotionally tiring week, but that the team is using the results to push itself harder. The Bruins had two meets in five days, and multiple athletes were emotionally affected by the death of Kobe Bryant the previous weekend.
“Everything we (previously) set out to do each week, we just kept improving,” Waller said. “There are good reasons for why this meet was a struggle, but it was challenging to get through that. (In) any situation like that, sometimes you need to have a loss to put things into clarity.”
The area in which UCLA struggled the most was beam. The Bruins scored a 47.875 versus the Huskies, a total that includes two of three falls that night. Senior Kyla Ross’ and sophomore Norah Flatley’s scores of 9.950 were not enough to salvage the rotation.
The difficulties on beam led UCLA to increase its concentration on that event in training this past week, even adapting to a more meet-like environment.
“We’ve focused a little more on our beam squad, and we actually did intersquad in Pauley Pavilion,” Kooyman said. “Doing that has made them more confident.”
The Bruins are facing another challenge. Waller said that some of the lineups may have to change because of health problems within the team.
“We’ve got a few people with the flu right now, so that could impact things,” Waller said. “The flu situation likely will affect vault and floor lineups.”
UCLA is currently ranked fourth on vault and first on floor in the nation, while Arizona is No. 23 on vault and No. 25 on floor.
Beam is the only event in which the Wildcats are placed above the Bruins. Arizona is No. 19 while UCLA is No. 31.
Arizona has scored in the 195-point range in three of its four meets this season, though its highest team score is 196.150. UCLA, however, began its season with a 196.800 and has not dipped below a 196.250.
No Wildcat gymnast is in the top 10, while the Bruins boast at least one athlete in the top 10 in each event.
Senior Gracie Kramer said the team’s versatility and prowess in a majority of the events will help the team against Arizona and in all other competitions.
“I think we bring a very unique factor in the sense that we perform on every event and we perform to our fullest capacity,” Kramer said. “It’s not just against Arizona, I think compared to every other team in the country, UCLA sets (its) standard … differently than most. It’s not always about the gymnastics, it’s about how you perform, how you sell it and how you represent the legacy of UCLA.”
The Bruins will take on the Wildcats on Sunday at 2 p.m.