UCLA gymnastics keeps consistent lineup as beam and meet scores rise in February
Senior Kyla Ross scored a 9.975 on beam in each of No. 3 UCLA gymnastics’ last two meets versus then-No. 3 Utah and then-No. 18 Oregon State. The Bruins’ overall beam score in both meets was a 49.525, a season-high score for the squad. (Amy Dixon/Daily Bruin senior staff)
By Coral Smith
March 3, 2020 12:00 a.m.
January was marked by up-and-down scores, but in February the Bruins’ beam lineup finally balanced itself out.
“We’ve definitely had highs and lows,” said senior Kyla Ross. “Just having that fight for each other is what keeps us strong.”
Balance beam is the only event in which No. 3 UCLA gymnastics (6-2, 4-2 Pac-12) has held lower than a No. 5 national ranking at any point this season, dipping as low as No. 39 during the first month of the season. But as the Bruins continued to compete through February, their beam scores and national ranking slowly increased.
This week marked the first in which UCLA was named in the top five nationally on the event after it scored a second-straight score of 49.525 versus then-No. 18 Oregon State.
“Beam knocked it out of the park (Saturday), and we keep building momentum and confidence there, and you can feel it in the beam squad,” said coach Chris Waller. “So that was really exciting to see them continue to just keep growing.”
The struggles on beam are new to UCLA this season, as the Bruins had not finished a season ranked outside the top five on the event since 2014 and hadn’t scored below a 49.000 since the first meet of the 2017 season.
The streak of 44 meets with at least a 49.000 score ended with UCLA’s first meet of the 2020 season, as seniors Grace Glenn and Felicia Hano both fell to start off the Bruins’ beam rotation at the Collegiate Challenge on Jan. 4, eventually resulting in a 48.500 team score.
UCLA’s scores continued to fluctuate over the next few weeks, hitting rock bottom with a season-low 47.875 against then-No. 11 Washington on the last day of January.
But starting with UCLA’s next meet versus Arizona on Feb. 9, the Bruins steadily started to gain consistency, both in scores and in the lineup.
The Arizona meet and the next week’s Arizona State meet featured scores of 49.375 and 49.275, respectively, and UCLA started to find more consistency in the lineup that would regularly go out and compete.
“We also have been moving around the lineup, so (each) week was just another test week, trying out another lineup,” Hano said after UCLA’s recent win over Oregon State.
Nine gymnasts have competed on beam at least once this season for the Bruins.
But now, the same six gymnasts have competed in the same order in the last two meets versus then-No. 3 Utah and Oregon State, and the lineup produced season-high scores of 49.525 in both competitions, as the gymnasts went 12-for-12 in hit routines.
Included in this run of hit routines was beam specialist Glenn’s first career perfect 10 – which was also the first perfect score in any event from the leadoff spot in NCAA history – and two 9.975s for Ross, who has gone 9.950 or higher in seven meets.
With higher consistency in beam scores has come better overall meet scores, including a season-high 198.025 versus Utah. This has been reflected in UCLA’s rising regional qualifying score, as the Bruins now rank No. 3 in the country and No. 1 in the conference with a 197.425.
“In terms of our RQS, ultimately, we want to be ranked up in the top three for the remainder of the regular season,” Waller said. “It was really important for us to drop a 196 score, and we’re looking forward to the next meet to be able to bump it up again.”