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Rising team scores, personal bests put UCLA gymnastics in a ‘really good spot’

Freshman Ciena Alipio performs a leap on beam. Alipio and No. 5 UCLA gymnastics will head to Tucson for a meet with Arizona on Sunday. (Christine Kao/Daily Bruin staff)

Gymnastics


Arizona
Sunday, noon

Tucson
Pac-12 Networks

By Genevieve Trimbell

Feb. 25, 2023 3:44 p.m.

One week ago, the Bruins achieved a season-high team and beam score in Berkeley.

On Sunday, they will look to continue that momentum against the Wildcats.

No. 5 UCLA gymnastics will face off against Arizona on Sunday for its final away meet of the regular season. With the Bruins experiencing a steady rise in team scores over the past five meets, freshman Maddie Anyimi said the squad isn’t planning to make any big changes this weekend.

“We’re at a really good spot right now,” Anyimi said. “Changing up everything isn’t really something that we’re interested in doing at the moment.”

Last week, the Bruins narrowly missed hitting the 198 mark, tying with California with a 197.975 for UCLA’s highest team score since March 2022, also in a meet against the Golden Bears.

Coach Janelle McDonald said the Bruins are trying to keep eclipsing their own previous bests by taking a micro approach to their gymnastics.

“Our messaging is just to keep cleaning up those details,” McDonald said. “This is another opportunity for us to dial in the details to be a little bit stronger as we head into postseason.”

A beam rotation full of career highs helped put the exclamation point on the meet against Cal last Saturday. Five Bruins either matched or exceeded their career high during the rotation.

Freshman Ciena Alipio credited volunteer assistant coach Autumn Grable with the sustained improvements on the event, on which UCLA has exceeded a 49.400 for the last three weeks after scoring at or below a 49 in three of its first four meets.

“The way Autumn puts our beam assignments together in the gym has been really helpful,” Alipio said. “I think that has been really great because then I’m aware of what I need to get better on.”

At this point in the 2022 season, UCLA was ranked No. 18 as a team, 13 spots lower than its current ranking. Its beam ranking has also improved, standing at No. 8 this year compared to No. 11 at the same time last season.

McDonald said achieving personal highs and finding success in areas that had previously been a struggle, like beam, has helped the Bruins find their footing this season.

“They had some history on that event (beam) that we needed to build our confidence with,” McDonald said. “It’s been great to see their confidence grow and see them be able to go out and have those special moments of when they’re able to put those routines together as a team.”

With three meets left until the Pac-12 championships, UCLA has the second-highest ranking in the conference, trailing Utah by just 0.045 in the first NQS rankings of the season.

McDonald said the Bruins are all in, this weekend and beyond.

“Our team’s really bought in with a lot of belief right now,” McDonald said. “I’m really excited to see how the next week finishes.”

Competition will begin in Tucson at noon.

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Genevieve Trimbell | Sports contributor
Trimbell is currently a contributor on the gymnastics and rowing beats.
Trimbell is currently a contributor on the gymnastics and rowing beats.
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