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UCLA gymnastics falls to Utah despite history-making performance

Senior Grace Glenn scored a 10.0 to start off No. 3 UCLA gymnastics’ balance beam rotation versus No. 4 Utah on Sunday. The perfect score was the first ever 10.0 in the leadoff spot on any event in NCAA history. (MacKenzie Coffman/Daily Bruin senior staff)


No. 4 Utah198.075
No. 3 UCLA198.025

By Cassidy Hunt

February 23, 2020 7:40 pm

The meet came down to the final routines.

No. 3 UCLA gymnastics (5-2, 3-2 Pac-12) lost to No. 4 Utah (9-0, 5-0) by a 0.050 margin at Pauley Pavilion on Sunday. As the meet entered the final performance for each team, the Bruins had a 0.075 lead, which they were unable to hold. While senior Kyla Ross completed UCLA’s final floor routine, Utah’s Abby Paulson scored one of two perfect 10s in the competition and secured the victory for the Utes.

“I’m very conflicted,” coach Chris Waller said. “I can’t say enough about the performance of the team. The effort was always there; the focus was there. We keep improving, and this shows us and the rest of the world that we’re legit. But, it’s painful to lose. In Pauley. To Utah.”

The Bruins opened the event on vault, where they posted their season-high score on the event – 49.375. UCLA’s vault rotation featured an event-winning 9.950 from anchor Ross, a season high for her and the highest vault score recorded by a Bruin this season.

Freshman Kalyany Steele and junior Savannah Kooyman each posted career-highs en route to a 49.325 team score on uneven bars, recording 9.925 and 9.900, respectively. Despite outscoring Utah in the second rotation, UCLA was still trailing by .125 at the halfway point of the meet.

The top score of the night came on balance beam from senior Grace Glenn, who posted the first perfect 10 in the leadoff spot on any event in NCAA history. Led by Glenn’s 10, the Bruins collected a season-high 49.525 team score on balance beam.

Glenn said she had opted to stay in the leadoff spot on beam specifically so she could break that record.

“Since the first meet, I’ve wanted to get a 10 in the leadoff position,” Glenn said. “Every time I come to a meet, I’m always thinking about what corrections I can make. Since I only do one event, it’s kind of hard to stay challenged, and that has kept me motivated throughout the year.”

Glenn was backed by season-high scores from Ross and redshirt senior Nicki Shapiro, who posted 9.975 and 9.900, respectively.

UCLA trailed by .075 as it entered its final event.

Both UCLA and Utah competed on their best events in the fourth rotation, as the Bruins rank No. 1 on floor exercise while the Utes own the No. 3 spot on beam.

As each team entered its last performance, UCLA was ahead by 0.075. While Ross anchored on floor exercise for the Bruins, Ute Abby Paulson scored a perfect 10 on beam and secured the win for Utah before UCLA’s final score was calculated.

Waller said despite the subjectivity of judge-based scoring, he would have liked to see higher scores for the Bruins.

“Like in any sport with (referees) or judges, it’s subjective,” Waller said. “Depending on where you’re sitting, you see things slightly differently. But, of course it would have been fun to have more 10s.”

Every counting floor score for UCLA was 9.925 or higher, including career-highs from freshman Chloe Lashbrooke, junior Nia Dennis and Ross. Dennis, Ross and senior Gracie Kramer tied for first place on the event with a trio of 9.975s.

The Bruins’ 49.800 on floor was the highest team score on any event for any team this season.

Ross’s 39.825 all-around score was the second-highest of her career and the second-highest posted in the country this season.

“To see so many people get career highs and season highs – not only on floor but across the board – it was really awesome,” Ross said. “I had goosebumps watching the whole team get career highs and watching them do the best that they are able to put up for us.”

Despite entering the meet tied for third and losing the competition, UCLA left the meet as the sole No. 3 team.

Starting Week Eight, NCAA rankings will be based on National Qualifying Scores. To calculate NQS, the highest and lowest scores for each team are dropped, then the teams’ top 6 scores are averaged, including at least three away meet scores.

The Bruins will face No. 18 Oregon State (2-2, 2-2), No. 8 California (3-3, 3-3) and Bridgeport before entering postseason competition in late March.

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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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