It was a fairytale 2018 season for UCLA. Many fans expected Oklahoma to take home their third championship in a row. However, thanks to great performances and two perfect 10.0s from now-graduated Peng Peng Lee, the Bruins went on to take home their first national title since 2010. Nebraska also had a fantastic year, earning a spot at the Super Six competition and finishing their season ranked sixth in the nation. Fast forward to January 2019 and the number one UCLA Bruins meet up with the number six Nebraska Cornhuskers for both team’s season opener.

The Bruins opened up their competition on the vault with sophomore Nia Dennis. Unfortunately, Dennis put a knee down on her Yurchenko 1.5, a rocky start for the Bruins. Next up on vault, UCLA put up sophomore Grace Glenn on vault for the first time in the NCAA career and earned a 9.750 for her Yurchenko Full. After Pauline Tratz scored a 9.800 on her vault, another first for the UCLA team took place with freshman Norah Flatley on vault. Flately, with a Yurchenko full and a hop back earned a 9.750. Next up on vault for the Bruins was Kyla Ross who would be competing her Yurchenko 1.5 for the first time. Ross did her usual beautiful gymnastics and stuck that first Yurchenko 1.5 in competition, good enough for a 9.975. It was like Dennis’ fall never happened after Hano closed out the Bruins’ vault rotation with a solid Yurchenko 1.5 for a 9.900.

Nebraska opened up their uneven bars rotation with freshman Adnerys De Jesus earning a solid 9.725. Nebraska put up strong uneven bars routines and closed with a 9.925 from junior Taylor Houchin. A great bar rotation for Nebraska, dropping a 9.675, and finishing the rotation with a 49.050, just 0.125 behind UCLA’s 49.175.

Nebraska on bars Photo: Emily Howell-Forbes Photography

Opening up the second rotation was Megan Verceles Carr on vault with a Yurchenko full that landed low for a 9.550 that could hopefully be dropped. Following was another Yurchenko full from Kaylee Quinn for a 9.750. Third in the line up was a clean Yurchenko 1.5 with a hop forward from Adnerys De Jesus for a 9.775. Megan Schweihofer showed a powerful Yurchenko full but took a pretty large hop forward resulting in a 9.650. Sienna Crouse put up the second to last vault for Nebraska with a Yurchenko 1.5; a little bit under rotated, but with good potential for the rest of the season. Taylor Houchin closed the vault rotation for the Huskers with a powerful Yurchenko double full for a respectable 9.825 helping the Huskers total a 48.800 for their vault rotation.

The Bruins opened up their second rotation with freshman Margzetta Frazier with an absolutely gorgeous bar routine, putting up a fantastic lead off score of 9.875. Next up on bars for UCLA was Anna Glenn, another beautiful routine with hit handstands and a stuck double tuck dismount who scored a 9.800. Noted as one who could take Peng Peng Lee’s spot, Norah Flatley put up another solid routine for a 9.825. Grace Glenn, debuting a new double layout dismount took the fourth spot on bars, but unfortunately peeled off on her Pak Salto, resulting in a 9.200. The duo of US Olympians, Madison Kocian and Kyla Ross went fifth and sixth in the lineup and both produced great routines, exactly what fans would expect from both Kocian and Ross. Kocian put up a 9.825, and Ross a 9.875, totaling a 49.200 for the Bruins on bars.

Flatley following her uneven bars routine Photo: Emily Howell-Forbes Photography

Following an upsetting uneven bars routine, Grace Glenn lead off the Bruins on beam. Glenn opened up her routine with solid acrobatics and continued with gorgeous leaps and dance. A near perfect comeback from Glenn’s bar routine, she put up a 9.875. Next up for the Bruins on beam was beamer Brielle Nguyen who performed another great routine for a 9.825. Norah Flatley went third on beam, opening with a front aerial to standing layout step-out. Flatley naturally flowed throughout the routine and closed with a stuck back handspring, 1.5 twist dismount for a great 9.875. Following Flatley’s great routine went Nia Dennis, hoping to recover after a fall on vault. Dennis opened up with a front aerial with a slight wobble, which required her to repeat the element in order to connect it to a layout step out. Dennis concluded her routine with a double full dismount and earned a 9.725. Kyla Ross went up next for the Bruins on beam and although had one slight wobble on her series, performed her routine like Kyla Ross does and stuck her dismount for a 9.850. Closing the beam rotation for the Bruins on beam was Katelyn Ohashi who opened with a triple series and displayed poise and confidence throughout, all the way to her stuck dismount, earning a 9.900 and helping the Bruins score a 49.325 on the balance beam.

Freshman Abby Johnston lead off the Huskers opening up with a double pike. A solid opening routine for the Huskers, Johnston closed with a stuck double back tuck and scored a 9.750. For the third time that night, Adnerys De Jesus opened up her floor routine with a powerful triple twist and closed with a double pike with her chest slightly down, but overall a a solid routine for another 9.75o for the Huskers. Next up on floor for the Huskers was Sierra Hassel who opened up with a front handspring, front double twist and closed with a Rudi connected to a huge straddle jump, earning a 9.675. Megan Schweihofer opened up her floor routine with a tucked full in and her power showed throughout the routine through her leaps, and closed with a double back, scoring a 9.750. 2018 floor exercise All American and senior Sienna Crouse went fifth for the Huskers on floor and showed her immense amount of power throughout earning a for Nebraska. Taylor Houchin closed the floor rotation for Nebraska, opening up with a piked full in and an unfortunate step out of bounds. Houchin displayed beautiful gymnastics throughout her routine, all the way to her close of a double pike, and earned a 9.750. Nebraska closed their floor rotation with a 48.875.

Going into the fourth and final rotation, the Bruins lead the Huskers by nearly a full point – 147.700 to 146.725.

Beginning the final rotation for Nebraska on the balance beam was Makayla Curtis who unfortunately took a fall on her leap series, but finished with a solid 1.5 twist dismount for a 9.075. Megan Verceles Carr went next for the Huskers on beam, performing a back handspring, layout step-out and dismounted with a 1.5 twist, slightly off centered. Following Verceles Carr’s 9.675, Sienna Crouse began her routine with a front aerial, back handspring. Crouse remained solid throughout her routine and finished with a gainer full twist dismount for a 9.800. Megan Schweihofer went up next for Nebraska on beam, opening with a back handspring, back pike. Schweihofer also stayed solid throughout and finished her routine with a stuck double full dismount for a score of 9.800. Taylor Houchin went next on beam for Nebraska and displayed her beautiful execution throughout as well as her solid landings. Houchin earned another respectable score for the Huskers with a 9.850. Sierra Hassel closed the competition for the Huskers on beam, opening with a solid back handspring, layout step-out. Hassel went throughout her routine looking confident and ended taking a slight hop on her dismount for a 9.850.

Nia Dennis opened up the final rotation for the Bruins on floor with a huge piked full in and continued throughout with fierce dance and sky high leaps. Dennis concluded her floor routine with a double back and a step back. Showing off her new Harley Quinn inspired floor routine, Gracie Kramer opened up her floor routine with a front double twist to a front pike. Kramer showed off her amazing characterization and amplitude throughout, earning a huge 9.950. Next on floor for the Bruins, Kyla Ross opened with a whip to double back and showed off her new routine, closing with a double pike. Ross, like Kramer also put up an amazing 9.950. Following a pair of 9.950s, Pauline Tratz began her new routine with a full in. Unfortunately on her second pass, Tratz mistimed one of her skills, but recovered quickly and did not suffer a fall. Tratz closed her routine with a double back and earned a 9.825. Second-to-last for the Bruins on floor was Felicia Hano who began her electro-swing routine with a huge double layout. Hano also had some timing issues on her second pass, but like Tratz, recovered nicely and finished her routine unfortunately putting her hands down on a double pike. Katelyn Ohashi closed the night for the Bruins and opened with a double layout. Although Ohashi is performing a new floor routine this season, she is once again performing to Michael Jackson and closed with her signature landing in a split. Ohashi sealed the win for the Bruins, earning a 9.950.

The competition concluded with the UCLA Bruins defeating the Nebraska Cornhuskers 197.250 to 195.700 with Kyla Ross winning the all around with a 39.650. Both teams definitely had their accomplishments, and both teams will have things they will want to improve for their next meet and throughout the season.

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