No. 10 UCLA trumps No. 11 BYU by .275 in Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES — A battle up until the final rotation, No. 10 UCLA edged out No. 11 BYU, 196.600-196.325, in the Pauley Pavilion on Wednesday.
"This is my first time to ever come to Pauley Pavilion for a gymnastics meet,” said head coach Guard Young. "They have such a strong tradition for gymnastics and they’re a powerhouse. That was a bucket list for me as a coach."
Prior to the start of the meet, the teams donned “Root Out Racism” shirts. Gathered together in unity, previous to the playing of the national anthem, both teams knelt in a circle while the announcer read the following statement:
"As a symbol of player unity across NCAA Gymnastics programs, our two programs come together tonight in support of ending racial injustices in our communities, our states and across the country. We look forward to playing a major role in this fight to end racial and social injustices. Let's stand together to show solidarity for racial equality and that enough is enough."
UCLA made the invitation for BYU to participate with them earlier this week.
"I think that it's a neat tradition that UCLA is doing this year at all of their home meets," Young said. "We are thankful that they extended the invitation to our team, and we left it up to our gymnasts to participate, and it was their choice. It led to a good, healthy discussion with my own gymnasts about racism and the struggles that minorities go through on a daily basis."
In the first rotation, BYU headed to the uneven bars where freshman Anyssa Alvarado and senior Abby Boden-Stainton notched team-high scores of 9.825. Senior Angel Zhong followed with a 9.800, tying her season-high score. The Cougars racked up a 49.000 tally, trailing the 2018 NCAA national champions by just .100.
Next up on vault, BYU’s highest score came from anchor senior Abbey Miner-Alder, achieving a 9.850. This score would win Alder the vault title for the meet, tied with UCLA’s Nia Dennis and Chae Campbell. Freshman Allix Mason contributed a 9.800. However, BYU's 48.925 total while UCLA tallied a 49.125 on bars widened the gap to 98.225-97.225.
The pressure of the meet set in during the second half, working in BYU’s favor as its scores continued to increase. On floor, BYU provided solid routines and earned a 49.175, closing the gap to only .075 behind the Bruins. Junior Rachel Bain-Heaton set the tone by matching her season-high score of 9.825. Alder closed out the rotation, matching her career-high score of 9.925 on the apparatus to help the Cougars achieve their highest floor score this season. This score earned Alder another title of the night, tying with UCLA’s Margzetta Frazier and Nia Dennis.
In the final rotation, BYU gathered its highest tally of the night and second-highest beam score of the season, a 49.225, which ranks as the 10th-best beam total in school history. Sophomore Lexi Mather celebrated a career high on beam, earning a 9.875. Achieving a 9.900 for three consecutive weeks, Stainton topped off the score and won the beam title along with UCLA’s Nia Dennis. In the end, a 49.425 on floor by the Bruins would solidify their win.
"It was exciting that we were within .075 of them rounding that last rotation," Young said. "We’re in striking distance of competing with the top teams in the country. We’re still combatting Sadie Miner with a sprained ankle and some girls with contract tracing issues, like everyone else is this year. That always puts a wrinkle in it when we try to prepare for meets."
On the road to Cedar City, Utah, BYU will face MRGC rival Southern Utah University on Friday, Feb. 12, at 7 p.m. MST in the America First Event Center.