LIVE BLOG: No. 22 Ohio State at No. 6 UCLA

Saturday night’s featured meet comes to us by way of Los Angeles as the Buckeyes face off against the Bruins in Pauley Pavilion. There will be a lot of important factors to pay attention to in this first meet of the season for both squads, namely the debuts of Ohio State head coach Meredith Paulicivic, no stranger to Pac-12 competition, and UCLA freshman Nia Dennis. But there are a number of other underlying storylines you don’t want to miss as well: Peng-Peng Lee is back for a sixth and final season, Stella Savvidou might compete floor with one hand (yes, really) and Jenna Swartzentruber and Pauline Tratz make their first collegiate appearances for their respective teams.

For those of you looking to watch along with our live blog, the Pac-12 Network will be covering the competition on its national channel, as well as the Los Angeles regional channel. Scores for the meet can be found here. As for your pre-meet injury update: Savvidou, as previously mentioned, is in an arm brace but has been seen in training clips doing one-arm floor routines. Madison Kocian had preseason shoulder surgery but has been slowly working her way back on beam. Grace Glenn and Lee both had knee soreness in December and were held out of the Meet the Bruins intrasquad. For the Buckeyes, Alexis Mattern had offseason shoulder surgery but was seen vaulting as recent as Nov. 20.

We’ve got Jim Watson and Sam Peszek on the call tonight. UCLA in its icing Rebecca’s Mom leos and Ohio State is wearing its black leos with the Buckeyes on the sleeve representing its Big 10 titles.

Miss Val isn’t even at the arena… She’s feeling under the weather, so Waller and Lane taking over leadership tonight. A glimpse into the future?

Let’s get things rolling!

Rotation 1: UCLA vault, Ohio State bars


Dennis: FTY with a hop back and a bit of a pike down, 9.775

Kramer: tucked Y1.5, sits it, looked pretty good in the air, I’m guessing she was trying to stick too much, 9.15

Ross: FTY, Sam’s acting like Kyla’s ever going to do something other than a full and I’m laughing, 9.8, scoring seems tight but right tonight

Tratz: does just the FTY but sticks it, nice distance from the horse, maybe a bit chest down but a great vault, 9.85

Hall: Y1.5, normal bent knees in the twist and sits it as well, so UCLA will found a fall on vault…on vault! 9.25

Hano: wearing the Peng double buns, Y1.5 great in the air and just a hop forward, 9.825


Merkle: blind to straddle jaeger, some knees, shoot over with slight leg separation, giant full finishing right on top of the bar to double tuck with a step back, 9.75

Hinterberger: blind to straddle jaeger some lose form, fine shoot over, shy of handstand then misses her grip some and comes off the bar on her blind full, gets up and tries it again, has a similar problem and comes down and just salutes so no dismount, 8.0

Adamski: straddle Tkatchev, lacking a bit of height, goes over a handstand but doesn’t come off and keeps it going, shoot over is solid, nice final handstand and slightly under rotates her double lay but she makes it around despite being tired from that coverup earlier in the routine, 9.0

Mattern: blind to straddle jaeger to bail with some knees on the jaeger, nice ftdt with a hop back, the Buckeyes needed that hit, 9.825

Aepli: slips off on a toe-on shaposh, had trouble on it in warm ups, coaches and Paulicivic showing a bit of confusion about where she should start the routine at, swings into a bail and bends her knees, ftdt and sticks it with some legs apart, 8.95

Swartzentruber: high hopes for this freshman, shaposh to pak beautiful, shaposh half, I’m in love, double layout a bit low and looked like one of those where you put your knees down but she saved it with just a step forward, 9.75

UCLA: 48.500, Ohio State: 47.275

Well… That was rough for both teams. UCLA counted a fall on vault of all events and Ohio State had a nightmare time on bars, highlighted only by freshman stud Swartzentruber (which I can already tell will be annoying to type out all the time) and Mattern. Plus, that Tratz FTY stick was *fire emoji.* And so the “we probably should have just had a bye this weekend” weekend continues. Let’s hope this isn’t a preview of the rest of the meet.

Rotation 2: UCLA bars, Ohio State vault


Vault was Ohio State’s best event in 2017, so let’s see if the Buckeyes can put up a solid number or maybe even outscore UCLA.

Merkle: FTY, some form throughout and a hop back but otherwise solid, 9.75

Swartzentruber: crunches into the table, misses her vault and just does a Yurchenko tuck, was supposed to do a FTY, 9.3, which is actually a really good score for a Y tuck?

Lowe: FTY, hop back, 9.775

Aepli: GREAT FTY, sticks it, could use a bit more height but the best of the rotation so far, 9.825

Stone: sticks her Yurchenko half, leans forward a tad to fight for the stick but it is a real one—no foot movement, 9.65

Mattern: FHS pike half! some leg separation during the flip and a hop back but nice to see that from the Buckeyes, 9.75


Honest: clear hip to huge tkatchev with better foot form!, straddle back, nailed the last handstand, ftdt with a big step back and form in the air but a good lead-off routine, 9.825

Ross: LOL at KYLA FREAKING ROSS going second in the lineup, beautiful handstand, shaposh with leg sep on back tap, shoot over, double layout stick, great routine just the small leg sep that the judges likely won’t take, *only* a 9.9

Meraz: toe-on, toe-on tkatchev to bail, double layout over rotated and a big step back, 9.75

Ohashi: apparently wasn’t originally going to compete because of an ankle sprain but here she is, shot on her bail to handstand, tkatchev higher than a normal WOGA one, double layout chest a tad low and a hop forward, not the best routine but not bad either, 9.775

Dennis: great first handstand, shaposh to shoot over, double layout with a hop back but a great routine, she’s going to be a thing this year and for the next four, 9.825

Lee: perfect handstand, has been sick apparently, toe-on tkatchev, bhardwaj with a slight leg sep, really nailing those handstands, nails her double layout onto an 8-incher with no foot movement, ahh yes… 9.975

Looks like Kooyman will do an exh, but we won’t get to see it.

UCLA: 49.3, Ohio State: 48.750
TOTALS: UCLA 97.8, Ohio State 96.025

I’d say that’s a sufficient bounce back for UCLA, and for Ohio State for that Mattern (forgive me). But puns aside, the Bruins will take the bar rotation. It wasn’t the best, and there’s still some tweaks to be made, but it was perfectly fine for Jan. 6. The Buckeyes also showed a good set of vaults. A bit tighter form and better landings will be what will set them apart later in the season.

Rotation 3: UCLA beam, Ohio State floor


Dennis: wolf turn but it wasn’t trash, bhs loso solid, Miss Val has pegged her as the new Gerber so don’t expect her to escape the lead-off spot now, switch leap to switch half with a questionable connection, side somi, ro 1.5 with a small hop, 9.75

Meraz: bhs bhs loso solid, something that I think was supposed to be a switch side but was not even close, full turn slightly over turned, switch leap to straddle, ro 1.5 step back, you can see Nia dancing in the background and that was honestly the best part of the routine, 9.525

Hano: switch ring to beat jump, bhs loso solid, full turn, switch leap to split jump, angle is weird to see 180, side aerial small wobble but could have been worse, ro 1.5 chest forward to save the stick and ends up saving it, 9.725

G. Glenn: I’M READY, beautiful needle scale work taking you back to Danusia times, solid bhs loso, switch switch, ugh her legs are GORG, front aerial a little toe tap hesitation on the landing, full turn to front leg scale, gainer full step to the side, 9.725

Ross: bhs loso perfect, switch ring beat jump perfect, front aerial small wobble, side aerial to full dismount with the smallest foot movement, 9.9

Lee: her signature mount, bhs layout/pike, took out her front tuck this season, double turn to beat jump, side aerial to full dismount stuck, that’s the most ride into a dismount out of a side aerial I’ve ever seen anyone get, 10 hands but will it be an actual 10, only a 9.925

Nguyen: exh apparently, transferred from Illinois, joining the team in January of this year


We have stories for every floor routine!

Swartzentruber: Her story is that she’s on a college spring break on a cruise ship that she can never have because she’s an athlete and what’s vacation, 2.5 to front tuck with some legs but solid, double wolf that’s a no from me, 5’7″ represent!, over rotates her double pike and falls onto her butt and out of bounds, 9.0

McClelland: opens with a double salto, solid, tell us what the story is Sam!, she’s the life of the party and at the end she’ll invite everyone to said party, she does not look like she’s the life of the party right now, ends with a double tuck, good rebound routine for the Buckeyes, 9.775

Aepli: double pike, training a full-in but playing it safe to start, fhs front full front lay, some form in the twists, Paulicivic’s “artistic gymnast” so her routine is telling the story of the stressed out college gym life… I’m not even going to comment on that, double tuck under rotated and chest way down but doesn’t put her hands down, 9.65

Stone: double pike with some feet shuffles on the landings, 2.5 to front tuck, undercut it a bit but saves it, story is “revamped techno lion king”, the main problem for me is the girls need to show off and present their choreography more, ends with a 2.5 twist with some leg form, 9.8

Merkle: tucked full-in, chest a bit down but good, ro double full to loso, one of my faves, story is “shy kid bringing out her inner tango”, I swear these stories… hits a good double tuck to finish, slightly under rotated, 9.825

Mattern: double lay!, front lay, front full, she’s actually showing off her routine and it looks 10x better than the others, routine is “a tribute to all the powerful women out there”, ends with a big double pike with a slightly wonky landing but solid routine, actually rotated with UCLA at nationals last season when she made it as an individual, 9.9!

UCLA: 49.025, Ohio State: 48.950
TOTALS: UCLA 146.775, Ohio State 144.975

An OK rotation for UCLA on beam—not really characteristic of the Bruins on the event. Ohio State continues to improve from that first rotation, topping off floor with that big 9.9 from Mattern. This last rotation will be telling for the Buckeyes as beam is one of the more nerve-wracking events. Plus, UCLA on floor. Duh.

Rotation 4: UCLA floor, Ohio State beam


Swartzentruber: wolf turn, bhs loso solid, cat leap to front toss to beat jump great, switch leap split jump looked slightly off but no balance check, gainer full stuck, great routine for the freshman, 9.8

Mattern: full turn, bhs loso and she’s off, front toss with a balance check, cat leap switch half solid, gainer full dismount stuck, 9.175

Aepli: cat leap, front toss, leg up wobble, bhs loso slight balance check, full turn solid, switch leap straddle 3/4, gainer full with a step, 9.575

Lowe: bhs loso nice, switch leap split jump, taking a ton of time before each skill, like do some random arm waves or something, side aerial solid, full turn, ro 1.5 hop forward, 9.725

Stone: bhs loso solid, full turn, random beat jump, Sam says she normally does it connected to the bhs loso, hitch kick switch side good, ro 2.5!, 9.8

Merkle: head stand mount? I kind of love it?, full turn balance check, bhs loso fall, Ohio State counting a miss now, cat leap front aerial beat jump solid, hitch kick switch side, gainer pike off the end with a step,


Kramer: FHS front double front tuck and just barely keeps it in by not taking a step, 1.5 to front lay, cool elbow bhs choreo, fhs rudi straddle jump, that was a great great routine for Kramer, aww she’s crying and my I’m crying, 9.9

Ross: opens with a double tuck, tour jete half in ring, not my favorite leap, ends with a double pike, chest way down but she doesn’t fall which she’s done more than once before (also Shapiro’s hair is hot pink and I don’t know how to feel), 9.9

Ohashi: double lay, sprained ankle who?, 1.5 to lay half to straddle jump to front tuck to split to the floor, switch ring switch half, double tuck a little wonky landings but great routine as a whole, 9.875

Dennis: double arabian step slightly to the side, fhs front lay step-out through to double tuck just out of bounds, tour jete half split full, double tuck slightly over rotated, good routine besides the oob, 9.7

Hano: alien routine, double layout with a fab landing, almost stepped out of bounds before her second pass, combo pass good, tour jete half wolf full, double pike with chest actually up and a great landing, 9.875

Tratz: great tucked full-in to start, she emotes so well in this routine, 1.5 to front full, tour jete half split full, double tuck, man I didn’t think she’d get that around but her tuck was so tight that she managed, 9.875

UCLA: 49.425, Ohio State: 48.225
TOTALS: UCLA 196.250, Ohio State: 193.200

Well after the no good, very bad vault rotation, UCLA pulled it together and still managed a respectable 196 thanks to solid bars and floor rotations. That’s a mark that’s better than the likes of Florida from this opening weekend. Ohio State, on the other hand, struggled, but also had a few bright spots it can be happy about. But for both teams, there’s a lot to work on before next weekend.

Event Winners:
Vault: Tratz, 9.85
Bars: Lee, 9.975
Beam: Lee, 9.925
Floor: Kramer, Ross, Mattern, 9.9
AA: Ross: 39.5

Live blog by Elizabeth Grimsley

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