#10 UCLA Gymnastics Faces Toughest Test of the Season Against #3 Utah
Competing twice in five days last week was a huge task for the Bruins, but they pulled together and won both meets.
Tonight, the #10 UCLA Bruins are in Salt Lake City for what is always to biggest dual meet of the season against the #3 Utah Utes. Tonight’s meet begins at 6 pm PT and will be broadcast on ESPNU.
Last Time Out
After only a four-day break, the UCLA Bruins gymnastics team competed against the Washington Huskies in Seattle on Sunday. Head coach Chris Waller made changes in the lineup to rest some of the gymnasts, which resulted in a lower overall score but a win nonetheless as UCLA beat Washington, 195.625-193.500. Margzetta Frazier’s 39.325 was a season high total and good enough to take the All-Around title.
On the first rotation, UCLA took to the bars, leading off with senior Savannah Kooyman’s 9.750. Kalyany Steele made her season debut after missing the first three meets due to an injury and earned a 9.725. UCLA had a fall in the middle of the lineup, but the last half came back strong when Frida Esparza notched a 9.875 and Nia Dennis scored a 9.825. Frazier closed the event with a 9.925, earning the bars title for the day. UCLA led after the first rotation, 48.950 to 48.600.
On vault, UCLA only had five available gymnasts, meaning all scores would be counted. Pauline Tratz and Kendal Poston each earned a 9.800 and Frazier added a 9.675 to her all-around total. Dennis added another 9.800 and Chae Campbell closed the vault lineup with a 9.875, tying for the meet’s high score. After the second event, the Bruin lead was comfortably extended, 98.075 to 96.475.
The floor exercise saw some new faces with three of the gymnasts making their season debut in this event. Emma Andres led off with a 9.825, a season high for her. Andres was followed by Sara Taubman’s first floor appearance, in which she scored a 9.650. Sara Ulias was up next and earned a 9.725 in her first competitive appearance while Samantha Satki appeared for the first time on floor as well, earning a 9.625. Sekai Wright scored a career-high 9.800 and Frazier closed the event with a 9.900. After three events, UCLA was still out in front, 146.725 to 144.525.
The final rotation on beam is where UCLA struggled with two falls forcing one to be counted toward the final tally. The event started off strong with a 9.850 from Poston and a 9.825 from Frazier. Esparza kept the momentum going with a 9.725, but the back half of the rotation had two falls. Fortunately, UCLA’s Campbell was able to earn an event-winning 9.900. In the end, the Bruins were victorious, 195.625-193.500.
Today, UCLA takes on their toughest competitor this season, the #3 Utah Utes. The Utes only have one loss this season to #4 Oklahoma and they are averaging over 197.000 each meet, a score that the Bruins have yet to reach this season. That is going to make tonight’s meet very tough.
Utah had a bye week last week, but they are coming off a strong win against the Arizona State Gym Devils. After their last competition, the Utes received three Pac-12 awards with Maile O'Keefe earning her third Pac-12 Gymnast of the Week honor in four weeks and Alexia Burch was named the Pac-12 Specialist of the Week. Additionally, Jaedyn Rucker earned her second Coaches' Choice award of the season.
To be competitive, UCLA will definitely need to have their best meet of the season, and they will probably have to earn their highest score of the season. A score over 197 is going to be a must to win this one, especially on the road.
#10 UCLA Gymnastics (4-0)
Opponent: #3 Utah Utes (6-1)
When: 6:00 pm PT, Friday, February 19, 2021
Where: Jon M. Huntsman Center, Salt Lake City, UT
TV: ESPNU with Sam Gore and Samantha Peszek
Live Stream: WatchESPN.com and the ESPN app
Live Stats: UCLA Stat Broadcast
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