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UCLA gymnastics prepares to leap into action against Utah, looking to nationals

(Kristie-Valerie Hoang/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Gymnastics


No. 3 Utah
Sunday, 3 p.m.

Pauley Pavilion
ESPN2

By Riley Segal

February 20, 2020 11:26 pm

The Bruins will battle their rival this weekend.

No. 3 UCLA gymnastics (5-1, 3-1 Pac-12) will face No. 3 Utah (8-0, 4-0) on Sunday in Pauley Pavilion. Both teams hold a season average of 197.071, tying them in the national rankings. Though the Utes have not scored below a 197.000 since their first meet of the year, the Bruins possess the highest score earned between the teams – 197.675.

Utah will come into Pauley Pavilion with an undefeated record.

Coach Chris Waller acknowledged the pressure surrounding the meet, but said that their biggest challenge will not be the Utes’ technical skills.

“Sports is all about being at your best, and within gymnastics it’s all about creating this little bubble that you compete in,” Waller said. “The challenge is to not be distracted by your opponent. That being said, of course, it’s Utah – they’re our rival. We’re tied, which seems almost mathematically impossible, it’s amazing.”

UCLA is coming off a win against Arizona State last weekend, in which the team scored a 197.200. The team stumbled on uneven bars, earning its lowest score of the season, and garnered its second-lowest score on vault.

However, UCLA still pulled through with the victory.

“The scoring was a little bit off last weekend at ASU, and we all were kind of aware of it, but we tried not to let that creep into our mind because we knew we were doing great gymnastics,” said senior Felicia Hano. “As long as we don’t pay attention to what score we get or expectations everybody else places on us, we’re gonna thrive.”

Senior Grace Glenn said UCLA is continuing to only focus on itself, even with a daunting opponent such as Utah.

“We’ve been focusing on doing our normal throughout this season,” Glenn said. “It’s come in waves, but I think if we stick to what we’ve been doing in training and (do) not focus on the other opponent, or our ranking even, then we’ll do just fine, because that’s when it gets in our head.”

The Bruins are No. 5 on vault, narrowly eclipsing the Utes who are ranked No. 6. UCLA is also ranked above Utah in uneven bars and floor standings. The only event in which the Utes are ranked higher than the Bruins is on balance beam, where Utah is No. 4 and the Bruins rank 18 spots below at No. 22.

Both teams are in the top 10 in all events except one. Utah does not break into the top 10 on floor – UCLA’s best event in which the team holds the No. 1 spot. Conversely, the Bruins’ lowest-ranked event – beam – happens to be the Utes’ best.

Individually, UCLA has between one and three athletes ranked in the top 10 in every event. Utah, however, has an athlete in the top 10 rankings for only uneven bars and beam.

At the midway point in the season, the Utes will be the highest-ranked team the Bruins have faced in a dual meet this year.

As the duel between both No. 3 ranked teams comes closer, Glenn said the team’s mindset has shifted since the start of the season, and the focus is on the future.

“Now we’re starting to think more that we’re national champions,” Glenn said. “I feel like our team has dialed in a little bit more, and I can see that everybody wants it, everyone is more driven and, since the end is closer, everyone can start to see the vision of making it to the national championship.”

UCLA will take on Utah at 3 p.m.

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Riley Segal | Sports reporter
Segal is currently a reporter on the gymnastics beat. She was previously a contributor on the women's volleyball beat.
Segal is currently a reporter on the gymnastics beat. She was previously a contributor on the women's volleyball beat.
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