LIVE BLOG: No. 10 UCLA at No. 45 Washington

Neither of these teams have had a…perfect introduction to 2021. The West Coast states have had undoubtedly the roughest ride in terms of preseason interruptions, and these two in particular are also coping with the loss of massive senior classes. Washington has been particularly on the rocks, currently ranking outside of regionals position, but depth is slowly increasing and today could bring improvements if Skylar Killough-Wilhelm is back in the all around. 

UCLA looked fairly healthy on Wednesday versus BYU, but today could be fairly chaotic for the Bruins as they’re likely to try out new lineups. Expect a rest day for Nia Dennis, while other athletes like Pauline Tratz and Sara Taubman take on increased roles.

In bizarre news, it’s snowing quite heavily in Seattle this weekend and the last time that Seattle got substantial snow was ALSO a week that UCLA visited. You might remember that 2019 meet for two perfect tens (Kyla Ross VT, Katelyn Ohashi FX) and the most hilarious vault from Kendal Poston. Let’s all say a quick prayer (secular is fine) for our lovely photographer Emily Howell-Forbes, who is braving a 15-mile drive in a city that REALLY can’t handle snow to bring us pictures.

Rotation 1: Washington VT, UCLA UB

Thomas (UW): Yurchenko layout, she’s been sticking this but not today, step back. 9.5

Kooyman (UCLA): Missed the first handstand quite badly, messy leg separations on the Maloney Pak, late on the half turn on low, double layout with a hop and then scoot into salute. With Steele now in the lineup and Chae Campbell and Norah Flatley to add, that might have been Kooyman’s last college routine. 9.75

Weiss (UW): Tsuk tuck Arabian, flexed feet in the tuck, tiny hop on the landing. That’s a 9.8 SV. 9.65

Steele (UCLA): Maloney with a little leg sep to clean Pak, good half turn, her toe point isn’t quite what I remembered from last year. Double lay shapey with a bit step back. She was out with bruised ribs and you can see she’s rusty. 9.725

Smith (UW): Yurchenko tuck full, she’s working a one and a half but it’s not ready. Big hop and then two steps back as she salutes. 9.625

Ulias (UCLA): Toe blind to Jaeger, GORGEOUS, full stretch catch, goes over on a cast and falls. Toe on to bail, bit of shoulder angle on the bail, her cast handstands are just absurd. Stalder doesn’t quite to handstand to double back, step back. 9.225

Cunningham (UW): Great Yurchenko full, hop back. 9.750

Esparza (UCLA): Maloney to Pak great, low on a LB handstand, van Leeuwen, stuck double lay. 9.875 now this bars team is in business.

Thompson (UW): Yurchenko full, super high and stuck but dives forward with her chest to hold it, she’d probably be better off stepping. 9.875

Dennis (UCLA): Slightly shy on the first handstand, touch of form on her Maloney backswing to clean bail, double lay with a little scoot back into salute. Big improvement from Wednesday. 9.85

McNamara (UW): Yurchenko full on tuck off, pretty far on one side of the table and it translates to a very crooked landing but chest up and just one step to salute. 9.7

Frazier (UCLA): Maloney to Pak, great, good van Leeuwen, one very shy handstand, double lay with flexed feet and just the heel shift on the landing. 9.925

After 1: UCLA 49.125, Washington 48.600

Fine result there for a fundamentally bad Washington vault team. Hoping that Killough-Wilhelm will be back here soon to bump one of the lower-SV vaults out.

UCLA got through fine with the three recent additions still shaking off rust. I really, really hope that Ulias gets another chance here. She upgraded her routine so fast to crack this lineup that it’s no surprise that she’s taking a moment to adjust but she’s so, so technically superior to any of the alternatives.

Rotation 2: UCLA VT, Washington UB

Tratz (UCLA): Yurchenko full, her usual, medium hop back. 9.8

Killough-Wilhelm (UW): Dying laughing at a little edit PAC-12 made of her struggling in warm ups. That’s SO mean of them and I love it. Cast over to pike Jaeger to overshoot, clean, blind full double back with a hop. Her pirouettes were both a little late but everything else was good. 9.775

Poston (UCLA): Apparently she also struggled in meet warm up. Manages the front pike 1/2 with less amplitude and chest wayyy down but just a little hop forward, good adjustment on a day she was uncomfortable.

Brovedani (UW): Blind to pike Jaeger, slightly soft elbows on catch but a big improvement from her Tkachev, blind full with a bit of leg separation to double back with a big step.

Frazier (UCLA): Yurchenko full, piked throughout with a big hop back. Lots of distance, especially after Poston. 9.675

McNamara (UW): Blind to Jaeger, too far and falls to her knees. That looked a bit painful. It was a dowels not over the bar fall, not a ton she could have done apart from released later. She’s hitting handstands, Pak archy with a big leg split, blind full double back with a step. Alisa said the turn was a little late and usually I agree with her but I’m pretty sure that was within deductionless angle range. 8.85

Dennis (UCLA): Yurchenko full, the gorgeous flare, REALLY tried to pretend she stuck it and ends up almost falling over as she runs away. 9.8

Bowles (UW): Deltchev with flexed feet to overshoot, a little awkward, GREAT blind full to solid double back with a small step. She barely, barely made that release combination, it looked out of her control throughout. 9.525

Campbell (UCLA): Great FTY, little hop back. 9.875

Thompson (UW): Blind to Jaeger, the usual position thing, good overshoot, hitting handstands. She’s not a natural bars gymnast but she knows how to max out what she has. Her FTDB is just absolutely stunning as usual and stuck dead. 9.875

UCLA scratching Andres in the 6 and going with five vaults.

Wickman (UW): Misses the blind and jumps off. Counting a fall now, which was sort of bound to happen. Blind to Jaeger to overshoot, arm swing standing on the low bar, badly missing handstands, blind full double back with a little step.

According to our photographer Emily Howell-Forbes, who is in the arena, Wickman broke her grip on that turn and finished the routine with it broken. 

After 2: UCLA 98.075, Washington 96.475

Well, the less said about that rotation the better.

Rotation 3:

Brovedani (UW): I’ve been hoping to get the freshmen out of this lead off spot so I’m happy to see her. She stands a good chance of handling the pressure. Front aerial BHS gorgeous, switch to SWITCH WITH THE OTHER LEG to split, wow! Side aerial tuck back full stuck. 9.85

Andres (UCLA): Two and a half punch front, big travel on the front but lands it okay, double back with great control. Switch half Popa underrotated.  9.825

Eksteen (UW): Front aerial BHS BHS, bends and falls. Looks like she considered not doing the second BHS and maybe she should have. Full turn, sissone, split to sheep, one and a half twist stuck. 9.125

Taubman (UCLA): Double back, overpowered with a scoot, front lay front full uncontrolled and with visible form in the air, switch ring switch side with position issues. Double pike rotated on the SPOT, that was super weird, underrotated with a step forward. 9.65

Thompson (UW): Candle mount, full turn, switch to split 3/4 with odd foot placement, looks uncontrolled and a less experienced gymnast might have just fallen. BHS LOSO, check with an extra step, choreography weird, one and a half twist with a hop forward. Judging delay, one judge took the leap series away it looks like. 9.55

Ulias (UCLA): Rudi, decent control on the landing, very cutesy choreography which fits her great. Switch tour jete full, major rotation issue and stepped around, she’ll only get credit for the half. One and a half front lay gorgeous in the air with an awkward shuffly landing, tour jete half split full also underrotated. 9.725

Thomas (UW): Got iced there by the judges but she’s been fairly resilient. Full turn, kickover front BHS VERY slow, tried not to wobble in the middle, she won’t get acro credit there. Switch straddle quarter, also probably won’t get that, one and a half twist with a step. Well……. she didn’t fall. 8.85

Sakti (UCLA): Open double back, super emphatic, great. Tour jete half split full I think, ambiguous rotation. This is apparently a kpop routine but I’m not cultured enough to know what song. Front full front tuck, missed the punch and couldn’t get the layout she intended, double pike underrotated with a step forward. 9.625

McNamara (UW): Full turn, BHS LOSO, bent knees and a check, cat leap switch half beat jump, iffy split but this isn’t a good angle to tell. Side aerial, side aerial back tuck full stuck. 9.8

Wright (UCLA): I totally missed her first pass, I think that was a 2.5??? Solid Rudi, tour jete half split full actually creditable unlike most of these, one and a half front lay good. 9.725

Killough-Wilhelm (UW): BHS LOSO, great, cat leap kickover front with a tiny adjustment. Switch split looks potentially a little short, side aerial 1.5 and held the stick for a second before stepping to salute. 9.725

Frazier (UCLA): Double back pretty solid, I love when she does a side somi in choreography don’t @ me. Bouncy and overpowered double pike, tour jete half Popa Popa underrotated. 9.9 haha okay.

After 3: UCLA 146.975, Washington 144.525

I’m having such a good time, guys. This is genuinely very funny. It’s SO CHAOTIC but it doesn’t feel miserable or catastrophic for anyone. Just a “this may as well happen” kinda day of gymnastics.

Rotation 4: UCLA BB, Washington FX

Poston (UCLA): Solid leaps, the usual leg form on the triple series, one and a half twist stuck. Really steady start. 9.85

Smith (UW): The first of just five floor routines for Washington today. Good double back, Rudi double stag and loses control on the air, like three arm swings there. Wolf 1/1 tuck 3/2 awkward but creditable, one and a half front lay with just slightly soft knees. 9.775

Frazier (UCLA): Switch switch, awkward and landed on one leg. Front aerial back tuck, a bit of knee form on the aerial. Side aerial, tentative, gainer front full dismount stuck. Resilient performance. 9.825

McNamara (UW): Switch ring half, one of the less awful ones, Rudi to straddle with a big lunge out. Switch ring switch half just okay, one and a half front tuck, meant to be a layout but missed the punch. 9.6

Esparza (UCLA): Full turn, BHS LOSO with a little check and foot form. Switch straddle 1/4, bit tentative, front aerial to split. Side aerial back full, missed a foot placement but gets through with a big hop back. 9.75

Wickman (UW): Badly underrotated and scary front double full, switch side Popa pretty. I think that was a front lay front full, ambiguous rotation on her Rudi. 9.775

Dennis (UCLA): Fell on her BHS LOSO, good positions on the leaps, one and a half dismount good. 9.3 

Thompson (UW): Overrotated double back and pulls the front foot, tour jete half to switch half out! Interesting technique. Front lay front full pretty, an actually more or less rotated tour jete full, Rudi well controlled. 9.9

Campbell (UCLA): Awkward squatty double wolf turn, BHS LOSO tentative with a bit of form, good switch half. Switch split, good splits, gainer full with a hop back. 9.9

Cunningham (UW): Great control on the front through double back, turns out her front foot. Switch half wolf full wolf full, pulls the front foot back on her double pike. 9.925

Sakti (UCLA): LOSO LOSO, gets one foot down and then drops off, the second LOSO felt off from the beginning. Solid leaps, full turn, side somi not ugly. 9.325

FINAL: UCLA 195.625, Washington 193.500

UCLA racked up a fair number of “worst since X” statistics there, but the Bruins shouldn’t be crying. This was a depth meet, they’re still (somehow) undefeated and none of the mistakes feel super consequential. My only real question is whether they make the brave choices and stick with their highest-potential but more inconsistent bars lineup versus Utah or whether the likes of Kooyman and Taubman see more time.

For Washington, same old story. Nothing’s really going right for the Huskies right now and I’m not convinced it’s going to get much better until they get a new coaching staff. While the roster is inexperienced, it’s also immensely talented and the amount of technical deterioration the freshmen have done since their JO careers is shocking. They’re being badly mismanaged and I just hope they don’t become even more injured before the end of the season (which will probably be pretty soon, as Washington is pretty unlikely to make regionals.)

VT: Geneva Thompson (UW), Chae Campbell (UCLA) 9.875
UB: Margzetta Frazier (UCLA) 9.925
BB: Chae Campbell (UCLA) 9.900
FX: Amara Cunningham (UW) 9.925
AA: Margzetta Frazier (UCLA) 39.325

Live blog by Rebecca Scally

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