The Bruins managed to climb from the depths of last weekend’s season opener, but it wasn’t enough to match the surging Beavers.
UCLA Gymnastics posted a 196.300 en route to a second-place finish Sunday afternoon, overtaking UC Davis while still trailing No. 19 Oregon State’s 197.000. After posting their worst team score in nearly seven years last Monday, the Bruins looked more like Corvallis, despite missing bodies and the occasional mishap.
The Beavers were actually the ones with the biggest star of the day, a distinction usually reserved for the Bruins, be it Peng-Peng Lee, Katelyn Ohashi, Kyla Ross, Madison Kocian or Nia Dennis. Jade Carey, an Olympic gold medalist on floor last summer, won the all-around on Sunday and has now beaten 9.900 in her eight routines so far in 2022.
Carey’s immediate dominance at the college level puts her well ahead of all Westwood competitors two meetings into the season, and with senior Margzetta Frazier out with an ankle injury and second Chae Campbell missing the back half of Sunday’s encounter with an ankle injury. , these Bruins couldn’t accumulate enough points to compete with the new rising Pac-12 star.
UCLA opened with a 49.175 on the uneven bars, with Campbell’s 9.700 being the lowest score counted in the rotation and rookie Jordan Chiles leading the way with a 9.925. With what turned out to be three of the top four in the discipline – Carey came in first – the Bruins were tied with Oregon State for the top of the standings during one rotation.
Chiles again led their team on vault, this time with a 9.875, but a pair of 9.650s by rookie Brooklyn Moors and senior Kendall Poston held them back and pushed UCLA back to second place. Campbell still scored a 9.800 despite an injury, but that led to her being replaced on floor by second-year Frida Esparza.
Esparza ended up retiring, and his 9.650 counted against the Bruins because of the Moors’ 8.800. Moors and Campbell both beat 9.800 a week ago, which means UCLA left a significant number of points on the board on the floor alone.
So the Bruins found themselves big going into the final rotation, and they should have closed a 147.550-147.025 deficit on beam while the Beavers took the floor.
Rookie Ana Padurariu opened the ball with a team best 9.900, then rookie Emma Malabuyo and Moors kept the youth movement going with 9.825 and 9.850, respectively. The trio of freshmen passed the baton to veteran Poston, who fell on balance beam a week ago and was added to the roster late on Sunday, but she was successful this time around with a clutch of 9.875 which made him cry.
After senior Samantha Sakti had a 9.825, senior Norah Flatley needed a perfect 10 to tie at the top, but her 9.300 didn’t even count and so the Bruins found themselves well short of Oregon. State. Even after beating 9.800 in his previous three routines on the day, Flatley finished with a 38.850 all-around, fourth of five entrants overall and second at UCLA at 39.100 to Malabauyo.
Flatly’s inability to convert in the final moments, however, didn’t spoil the mood in what was a clear rebounding effort for the Bruins. Dealing with new and old wounds, as well as the team drama brought to public attention on social media throughout the week, UCLA still managed to take on a growing Pac-12 foe and break through the 196-point threshold with room to spare after not even hitting 195 six days prior.
UCLA will have the chance to take another step forward on Jan. 30 when they host No. 20 Arizona at Pauley Pavilion. The game, which kicks off at 2 p.m., will be the Bruins’ home opener, and fans will be allowed to attend after the university’s COVID-19 restrictions expire Friday night.
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