UCLA gymnastics hopes to stick landing at upcoming home meet against Washington
Senior Kendal Poston performs on beam where she has scored a 9.900 in back-to-back weeks. Poston and No. 18 UCLA gymnastics are back at home to take on Washington on Sunday. (Antonio Martinez/Daily Bruin staff)
Sunday, 2 p.m.
By David Deng
Feb. 26, 2022 1:40 p.m.
The Bruins are returning home with less than a month until the Pac-12 championships.
No. 18 UCLA gymnastics is set to face Washington on Sunday, the first of three consecutive home meets for the Bruins to cap off the regular season.
“We are going into a new chapter,” coach Chris Waller said. “Not just the second half, but (also) ramping up for the postseason. The atmosphere in the gym has been better this week, and the team is fired up.”
The blue and gold have failed to pick up a victory in February thus far, losing three consecutive meets to No. 4 Utah, No. 19 Stanford and No. 15 Arizona State. The Bruins posted their two highest team scores of the season against the Utes and the Cardinal but scored a season-low 47.825 on bars in the first rotation against the Sun Devils en route to their third loss this month.
Despite the defeats, senior Kendal Poston said the challenges the team has faced provide an opportunity to train harder.
“The team’s drive is even stronger than it was after the Utah meet,” Poston said. “When you go out and don’t compete how you train, it’s a motivator.”
While Waller said the bars rotation was a challenging start to the meet against Arizona State, he said he was impressed by the team’s response to the opening rotation, with the Bruins rebounding to set a season high on vault and record several individual bests.
“The fact that we had our highest vault total of the year after that (first) rotation speaks a lot about the team’s resilience,” Waller said. “It was a rough start, that’s for sure. I had concerns going into this week about what the atmosphere of the team would be like and was really impressed and surprised at how motivated the team was.”
Freshman Jordan Chiles earned perfect 10s on floor against Utah and on bars against Stanford, the first perfect scores by a Bruin since Kyla Ross in 2020. Fellow freshman Emma Malabuyo equaled a career best in all-around with a 39.475 against Arizona State after scoring the same the week prior.
Poston – who has scored back-to-back 9.900s on beam – said while she hopes to inspire the freshmen, they also inspire her.
“I hope that I’m a mentor to them, but they’re (also) a mentor to me, and we really bond and vibe when we work together,” Poston said. “One of the reasons why I love this team so much is that I want what’s best, and the other girls to hit even more than I want myself to hit – that love really comes through.”
Sunday’s meet against the Huskies starts at 2 p.m.