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LADIES & GENTLEMEN, your 2018 champions of college women’s gymnastics, the UCLA Bruins! Photo courtesy of uclabruins.com
UCLA BRUIN GYMNASTICS – 2018 SEASON AT A GLANCE
Final Record: 37-2, 4-1 in Pac-12 Conference
- NATIONAL CHAMPIONS – Won their 7th NCAA title with a score of 198.0750 in the Super Six
- Finished in first place in the NCAA National Semifinals with a score of 197.5625
- NCAA REGIONAL CHAMPIONS – Won The Columbus, OH Regional with a score of 197.650
- PAC-12 CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS – Won their 18th conference championship with a score of 197.500
UCLA GYMNASTS WITH PERFECT TENS IN 2018:
- Christine Peng Peng Lee (My Choice For Team MVP): SIX – Four on balance beam, two on uneven parallel bars, including two perfect tens in the Super Six, 2018 NCAA Balance Beam Champion
- Katelyn Ohashi: THREE – All on Floor Exercise, 2018 NCAA Floor Champion
- Kyla Ross: ONE – On uneven parallel bars at Stanford on March 11th
- Felicia Hano: ONE – On Floor Exercise vs Oklahoma on February 4th
OTHER STANDOUT UCLA GYMNASTS IN 2018:
- Madison Kocian: Had a score of 9.925 on balance beam (at California on February 10th) and floor exercise (at Stanford on March 11th) – scored a season high of 9.9375 on bars on Super Six
- Napulani Hall: Had a season/career high of 9.975 on vault vs San Jose State on March 13th
- Grace Glenn: Had a season/career high of 9.95 on balance beam vs Arizona, California, and Oregon State
- Nia Dennis: Had a season/career high of 9.95 on vault vs Utah on February 18th, and 9.975 vs Oregon State on February 25th
- Gracie Kramer: Had a season/career high of 9.95 on floor exercise vs Oregon State on February 25th
- Pauline Tratz: Had a season/career high of 9.925 on vault (vs Utah on February 18th & vs San Jose State on March 13th) and floor exercise (at Masters Classic on March 4th and vs San Jose State)
THE BALANCE BEAM ROUTINE HEARD’ ROUND THE SPORTS WORLD: Christine Peng Peng Lee’s perfect ten that clinched the NCAA championship for UCLA – and the Bruins’ reaction upon winning the title. Courtesy of YouTube.
Final Analysis and Thoughts:
I tweeted on Twitter that I don’t think I have ever been more proud of being a member of Bruin Nation – or of any team wearing true blue and gold and representing those four letters – than I was this past early Saturday evening when, while following the Super Six at Chaifetz Arena in St, Louis, MO on this site’s Twitter page ( http://www.twitter.com/socalshfanatic ),
A tweet popped up stating that Christine Peng Peng Lee, who had already earned a perfect ten on bars and needed a score of at least a 9.975 on balance beam to dethrone two-time defending champion Oklahoma, delivered perhaps the most clutch performance in UCLA history as she scored a perfect ten on the event where she won the individual NCAA title the day before, giving the Bruins their seventh national championship.
Of course I was ecstatic, like the rest of Bruin Nation, those bunch of blue-clad student-athletes once and for all demonstrating why that women’s gymnastics team that holds their home meets in Pauley Pavilion every winter and early spring is my favorite team in the sports universe.
UCLA’s gymnasts celebrating winning the Pac-12 Championship in Tucson, AZ. Photo courtesy of uclabruins.com
Indeed, these UCLA gymnasts constituted a team for the ages, winning their 7th crown in epic fashion, comparable the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Bill Mazeroski and the Toronto Blue Jays’ Joe Carter winning the 1960 and 1993 World Series, respectively, on home runs in the ninth inning.
Or the then-New York Giants’ Bobby Thompson setting off cries of “The Giants win the pennant!” with his legendary home run off the then-Brooklyn Dodgers’ Ralph Branca in the last inning of the last game of the 1951 National League playoff.
Or the Dodgers’ Kirk Gibson winning Game One of the 1988 World Series with that home run of his.
When I think about it, those bunch of Bruins gave Bruin Nation a season that was so exciting with a total of eleven perfect tens and two home meets that went down to the final rotation,
That to win the national championship the way that they did was only fitting.
To say that I felt privileged to be able to watch their meets this year, and every year dating back to 2003, would be an understatement as it was – and will always continue to be – a pleasure to support those athletes.
While those gymnasts and everyone in Bruin Nation are very rightfully justified in their joy of winning their first championship in eight years, now comes the difficult part:
THIS MUST BE SEEN: Katelyn Ohashi’s floor exercise homage to Michael Jackson in the recent Super Six, which got her a 9.95. Courtesy of YouTube.
As is commonly known, it’s much harder to stay on top than it is to get there, and as sure as I’m typing this I know that teams like Utah, their main rival in the Pac-12, and Oklahoma in particular will be duly plotting their revenge for the Bruins beating them the way they did.
Not that I’m too worried about next season, as while the outgoing seniors – Hall, Janay Honest, and Sonya Meraz as well as Peng Peng – while be sorely missed,
UCLA’s chances of repeating in 2019 are very good with Ohashi, Ross, Hano, Kocian, Dennis, Tratz, and a host of other standouts returning.
The fact that the Bruin gymnasts who were injured, namely Stella Savvidou, Macy Toronjo and Rechelle Dennis, are expected to be healthy and ready to help UCLA keep their newly won crown (or at least I expect them to be so), give me confidence that the ribbons and confetti will be falling on them at this time next year.
As for now, however,
As former UCLA football coach Karl Dorrell exclaimed to the fans following those Bruins’ incredible 13-9 upset of 2nd-ranked USC on December 2, 2006 at the Rose Bowl, denying those crosstown rivals a trip to the BCS National Championship game that year…
“ENJOY THIS WIN!!”
Oh, and one more thing:
If Miss Val, the coaching staff, or any of those wonderful gymnasts ever read this, there are fifteen words that I would like to say to them…
YOU ARE A TRUE HONOR TO THE UCLA COMMUNITY AND TO BRUIN NATION.
I’ll bet anything that everyone in Bruin Nation feels the exact same way.