UCLA gymnastics return home full of confidence – Orange County Register

UCLA’s gymnastics team was tested last week. It competed at rival Utah’s gym and without all-around competitor Chae Campbell.

The No. 6 Bruins didn’t win, but they posted their second-highest score and had key performances from walk-on freshmen to give them some momentum on Saturday’s return to the Pauley Pavilion for their second home game of the season.

“Utah is not an easy place to compete,” said UCLA freshman coach Janelle McDonald. “So for our freshmen, being able to get the opportunity to go out and achieve their routines was a huge confidence boost for each of them. That was really exciting to see.”

Campbell was absent due to a family emergency, and McDonald said Wednesday that she was back on campus and would resume practice at the end of the week before the Bruins’ 2pm doubles meet against Arizona State (1-2).

In her absence, freshmen Maddie Anyimi and Clara Wren took on Utah. While it’s unclear whether either will make Saturday’s lineup for UCLA (1-1-1), McDonald hasn’t ruled out future appearances.

“They are working on improving details and landings and I’m just looking forward to them continuing to grow in their gymnastics,” said the coach.

UCLA’s balance beam performances are also pointing up. The Bruins posted their highest event score of the season against Utah, and four out of five gymnasts in the event roster reached 9,900 or more.

Balance beam scores had faltered this season, dipping below 49.00 in UCLA’s first two Pac-12 duals meetings of the season before rising to 49.575 against Utah.

McDonald and Beam Coach Autumn Grable deepened the basics and added exercises to build mental toughness, such as: B. Pressure packs simulating an encounter with high pressure situations.

“We had some rocky beam rotations,” said Emily Lee, who hit a 9.90 on the beam against Utah. “And right after that,[Grable]comes up with game plans, the kind of tasks on the beam that will help us do better under pressure.”

Freshmen Ciena Alipio and Selena Harris had career highs on beam with 9.875 and 9.950, respectively. Harris was named Pac-12 Freshman/Newcomer of the Week for the fifth year in a row.

She now has the Pac-12 record for most Freshman/Newcomer of the Week awards, set by California native Toni-Ann Williams in 2015. Harris is ranked fifth nationally as an all-around competitor and has hit every routine this season.

“She has a special blend of strength and artistry and it’s really fun to coach someone like that. The nerves don’t get on them,” McDonald said.

Sophomore Jordan Chiles was named Pac-12 Gymnast of the Week after finishing first in three events to win the all-around against Utah. Chiles ranks eighth in the all-around, third in the vault, and sixth in the floor exercise nationally.

The pair will return to Pauley Pavilion with the Bruins to take on an Arizona State team that posted a season-best 196,800 in their loss to California last week. Senior Hannah Scharf had a career highlight on floor and a season highlight on uneven bars and in the all-around.

https://www.ocregister.com/2023/02/10/ucla-gymnastics-home-again-beaming-with-confidence/ UCLA gymnastics return home full of confidence – Orange County Register

Russell Falcon

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