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The 2018 version of the UCLA Bruins Gymnastics team. Photo courtesy of uclabruins.com
UCLA BRUIN GYMNASTICS – 2017 BY THE NUMBERS:
Final Regular Season Record: 9-5
* Had the nation’s highest regular season score in a meet, 198.125 vs Stanford on February 11
* Scored ten perfect tens: five on bars and five on beam
* Finished tied for 3rd in the Pac-12 Conference Championships
* Finished 1st in NCAA Regionals
* Finished 4th in the NCAA Super Six (College gymnastics’ version of basketball’s Final Four) and in the nation
2018 National Rank: Sixth
Coach: Valorie Kondos Field, 28th season
First Meet: (#22) Ohio State, Pauley Pavilion, Saturday, January 6th, 6:00 p.m.
Key Home Meets:
- Sunday, February 4th vs two-time defending national champion Oklahoma, 1:00 p.m.
- Sunday, February 18th vs Utah, 5:00 p.m.
UCLA’s 2017 meet vs Stanford, which saw back-to-back perfect tens on the uneven bars and a nation-high score of 198.125. Courtesy of YouTube.
Key Gymnasts (and it’s a fairly long list):
Kyla Ross (Soph): Olympic Gold Medal winner in 2012. Five-time All-American. 2017 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year & Beam champion. 2017 NCAA Bars and Beam champion. Four perfect tens in 2017 – two on bars, two on beam
Christine Peng Peng Lee (R-Sr): Six-time All-American. 2017 Pac-12 Specialist of the Year. Three perfect tens in 2017 – two on bars, one on beam in the Super Six
Katelyn Ohashi (Jr): Beam specialist – Two-time All-American – scored back-to-back perfect tens in that event vs California and North Carolina in 2017
Madison Kocian (Soph): Olympic Gold Medal winner in 2016. Four time All-American. Perfect ten on bars vs Stanford
Sonya Meraz (Sr): Second team Pac-12 All-Academic in 2016 & 2017. Scored as high as 9.875 on all four events, is known to be steady and dependable.
JaNay Honest (Sr): 2016 Pac-12 Bars co-champion. A high score of 9.875 on bars in 2017. Is very steady and dependable as she’s competed in 28 consecutive meets.
Napulani Hall (Sr): 2017 Honorable Mention Pac-12 All-Academic, a career high of 9.90 on vault at Pac-12 Championships. Like Honest and Meraz is very steady and dependable.
Macy Toronjo (Soph): Floor specialist. Scored a high of 9.95 vs North Carolina in 2017
Stella Savvidou (Jr): Steady on bars, competing on that apparatus in all 14 meets in 2017 with a high score of 9.875. Scored a near-perfect 9.975 on floor vs Stanford.
Bruins celebrating during a meet. Photo courtesy of dailybruin.com
I’ve been watching this team of my alma mater’s for fifteen years now, and I’ve always very much looked forward to their season as I’ve been greatly entertained and have had just plain fun at their meets in Pauley Pavilion.
This year is no different as with 24 young ladies on their roster, I’m sure that these Bruins – who are picked to win the Pac-12 Conference but strangely enough is behind conference rival Utah in the initial national rankings (I wonder how that’s possible) – are very hungry to win their first national championship in eight years and seventh NCAA title overall.
Though I didn’t name them above, Kondos Field, better known as “Miss Val”, has always made ample use of her freshmen, and 2018 will be no exception.
Nia Dennis (sister of teammate Rechelle) was a standout at the Bruins’ Meet The Team event/scrimmage last month, getting scores of 9.8 and above on all four events, including a 9.9 on vault as she won the all-around with a score of 39.40 (out of a perfect 40).
Dennis will be certainly counted on, as will fellow first year Bruin Pauline Tratz, a German National team member who got a 9.825 on vault at Meet The Bruins.
Sophomore Felicia Hano stood out with her 9.9 on vault at the same event; she will be counted on along with so many of her teammates.
Which is the beauty of having so much depth as this UCLA gymnastics program begins their 42nd season.
One of the Bruins’ standout freshmen, Nia Dennis, doing her floor exercise routine during the gymnastics team’s “Meet The Bruins” event in a preview of what UCLA can expect to see. Courtesy of YouTube.
As for predictions:
I agree with the Pac-12 prognosticators, as I see these Bruins winning the conference as they certainly have not only the talent, but the depth.
I also see them in the Super Six again, or at least strong contenders for such as although teams like Utah, Alabama, Oklahoma and Florida are loaded, I think UCLA is capable of beating them.
On a personal note:
Along with (starting this Saturday) this being my 16th year of watching them on a regular basis, this is the tenth year that I’ve written about these gymnasts from Westwood.
It’s honestly been a pleasure as they, as much as any other team on campus – and perhaps a little more – make me proud to be a graduate of UCLA and a now 30-year member of Bruin Nation.
And not just because of their often outstanding performances on the vault, uneven parallel bars, balance beam, and floor exercise either as from Kate Richardson in 2003 (when I stared going to their meets) to Samantha Peszek, Vanessa Zamarippa, and Brittani McCullough a few years afterward,
To Danusia Francis and her mind-boggling beam routines,
To Angi Cipra and her floor routine which she gets the crowd involved with that cell phone miming,
Of course we absolutely cannot forget Sophina DeJesus and the floor routine seen ’round the world on YouTube, making her quite well known complete with an appearance on the “Ellen” TV show,
And Hallie Mossett paying homage to Beyonce and her “Single Ladies” in her floor routine last year.
Along with so many other Bruin gymnasts that I’m sorry to leave out; if I mentioned them all, this article would end up the size of a law school textbook if not War and Peace,
They are all not only outstanding student-athletes, but outstanding people, serving as excellent role models for the young girls who flock to Pauley for their meets, thrilling over their routines and excitedly getting their autographs and selfie photos with them afterwards.
That is why it will continue to be a pleasure for me to go to UCLA to watch these young women.
And why – with the Dodgers are a solid second thanks to their first World Series appearance in 29 years – I still consider them to be my favorite team in all of sports.
As I do every year and will always do, I strongly encourage everyone to check out one of the five home meets scheduled by these Bruin gymnasts this season.
Believe me when I say you’ll want to thank me if you do.
To see the schedule and for ticket information (if you were convinced by what was written here), go to UCLA’s website at http://www.uclabruins.com