It started as if in UCLA’s favor. Utah had started on the bars with a good rotation but not a great one with overshot dismounts and a large form break, they finished with a 49.3. This would put UCLA in the lead as they would round up total of 49.45 with highlight vaults of 9.95 from Nia Denis and 9.925 from Felicia Hano. From the start, you could see the nerves from both teams.
Into the second rotation and again, Nia Denis proves her greatness with a 9.925 in the leadoff spot. The momentum would continue with a hit 9.9 from Katelyn Ohashi and a solid 9.8 from Janay Honest. Then came Peng Peng Lee, who had a perfect routine leading up to the dismount but with her chest down and a large hop forward scored a 9.8, still a sturdy score but not what they had hoped for from the bars and beam specialist. Kyla Ross had a 9.875 after Peng, and then they would finish with Sonya Meraz. They already had 5 hits so they didn’t need a huge score from her but the nerves showed again when she fell on her toe on reverse hect. UCLA’s bars score would match Utah’s 49.300. Utah, on vault, again had an ok rotation suffering a fall from Kim Tessen on her yurchenko 1 1/2 and a little hesitation on Makenna Merrel-Giles on her yurchenko 1 1/2 landing, but then a nearly perfect yurchenko double full from anchor Mykayla Skinner for a 9.95. Utah would score another 49.3 on vault, leaving UCLA in the lead and still favored to win.
The third rotation is where we began to see things shake up. UCLA, on the beam, had no falls but you could still see the nerves with a few little wobbles and a complete bend at the hips from beam star, Peng Peng Lee. They still managed to pull through a 49.4 dropping Peng’s 9.800. Not a weak rotation for the home team, but Utah was able to pull through even more on floor. Super routines from Missy Reinstadler and Makenna Merrel-Giles scored 9.925’s and another near perfect routine for Mykayla Skinner for a 9.975, receiving a 10 from one judge. They were able to drop Sydney Soloski’s 9.125 from a fall to score a total of 49.550. This meant that after the third rotation, the meet was tied at 148.150 for both teams.
As the tension built, UCLA would head to floor, typically one of their stronger events, as Utah, would finish on the beam. UCLA had a bit of a shaky start with two out of bound landing deductions from Grace Kramer and Nia Dennis for a 9.675 and 9.625 respectively. Utah, on the other hand, started on beam with a 9.775 and 9.925 from Maddy Stover and Makenna Merrel-Giles. UCLA then had up, Kyla Ross, who hit all three clean landings for a 9.875. Utah answered with a 9.850 on beam from Alexia Burch. Then there was Pauline Tratz for UCLA on floor, who stepped out of bounds on her last pass, another semi-low score for UCLA, 9.775 while Utah scored a strong 9.875 for Kari Lee on floor. UCLA’s final competitors would be floor standouts, Felicia Hano and Katelyn Ohashi. Felicia Hano hit her first pass, double layout, stuck. Then finished two more controlled landings for a 9.975, nearly perfect!! Utah then finished with Missy Reinstadler’s 9.825 and Mykayla Skinner’s 9.925. They would have a 49.400 on beam and a 197.550 overall. This meant that even a perfect 10.0 from Katelyn Ohashi wouldn’t win it, though it was still worth keeping it at close as they could, and that’s just what she did. Showing off a great performance aspect to the routine, a perfect double layout and controlled jumps and leaps, she scored another near perfect score, 9.975. Hence, even with the early mistakes of some of their teammates, Katelyn Ohashi and Felicia Hano finished up strong for their team wrapping up a total of 49.2 on floor and a 197.425 overall… UCLA will return home against Oregon State next Sunday as Utah faces California away on Sunday. Great effort to both teams and good luck as you continue your season!! And as always, thanks for reading and stay tuned for more!! 🙂
*Photo (of Mykayla Skinner – Utah) via Getty Images.
*Videos via “NCAA Gymnastics” on Youtube.
Makenna Merrel-Giles’ 9.925 on floor:
Katelyn Ohashi’s 9.975 on floor: