Senior night at UCLA is always an interesting day, and this year we should expect double the fun: Two members of last year’s senior class will be in attendance today, and having missed their own senior night, the Daily Bruin has reported that they will be invited to join the festivities. Student coach Kyla Ross will be celebrated, as will San Jose State graduate student Mercedez Sanchez, who was on the roster at UCLA for four years without ever doing a lineup routine but who is now a regular lineup contributor for the Spartans.
San Jose State won’t make regionals, but it has a great deal to be proud of this year. After withstanding some of the country’s toughest COVID restrictions through preseason and being unable to compete until the last week of February, they have produced results very much in line with their normal performances despite the absence former star Taylor Chan and improved substantially each week. While Sanchez will be at the forefront of fans’ minds, you’ll want to watch Canadian sophomore pair Jada Mazury and Emma Milne on bars and beam and freshman phenom Lauren Macpherson in the all around.
For UCLA, senior night is a deeply needed opportunity to climb the NQS rankings before regionals. The Bruins’ top scores are bunched closely together, so a major leap is unlikely, but a 197-plus is key to their postseason hopes. Note that Norah Flatley MIGHT make her much-anticipated return today and that the Bruins have been teasing additional 10.0 SV vaults, including Chae Campbell’s.
Rotation 1: UCLA VT, SJSU UB
Tratz (UCLA): Yurchenko full, lots of distance and stuck-ish. 9.875
Solomon (SJSU): Maloney to bail, little bits of leg separation, popped out early on her stalder but made it over the bar to double back with a step. 9.7
Poston (UCLA): FHS front pike 1/2, not massive distance but she’s gotten much cleaner in the air, hop back. 9.875
Lopes (SJSU): Maloney to bail, slightly closed hips on the way back, blind full late, swims a bit to hold the double back stick. 9.6
Wright (UCLA): Soft knees on her one and a half and deep with a big step back. At least 90 degree knee angle there. 9.675
Sanchez (UCLA): Blind to Jaeger to overshoot, bit of leg form throughout, soft knees on her cast handstands, blind full messy to double back with a tiny hop. 9.75 is too high but I’ll take it for the homecoming routine.
Frazier (UCLA): Her usual lukewarm block on a FTY, wrapped in late but landed well with just a small hop. 9.9
Macpherson (SJSU): Very solid Tkachev, making handstands, toe on to bail excellent. Blind full FTDB with a big step. Good! By far the best basics of what’s already been a very impressive lineup. 9.775
Dennis (UCLA): The usual mega-flared FTY with a tiny scoot back. 9.9
Milne (SJSU): Maloney with leg separation to Pak, half turn on the low bar, double layout looks like it was stuck though we couldn’t see her feet. On side angle she might have clipped the bar with a toe. 9.85
Campbell (UCLA): Huge FTY You don’t see a ton of blocks like that in NCAA. Medium hop back. 9.875
Mazury (SJS): Great Jaeger, lost her swing on her Pak and did a really muscley switch kip but made it, double lay NCAA-stuck with the teeniest bounce in place. 9.65
After 1: UCLA 49.325, San Jose State 48.725
Lopes (SJSU): Pikey FTY with a big step back. 9.75
Campbell (UCLA): Maloney to bail, flat footed and with minor leg separations, blind to double front looked like it released too early to me but she landed it well, just a small step back. 9.825
Kelperis (SJSU): Tsuk full, leg separation and body shape issues but a difficult vault landed securely, step back. 9.7
Kooyman (UCLA): Missed the first handstand badly, Maloney to Pak as clean as it ever gets, half turn on the low bar. Double lay clean.
Macpherson (SJSU): Really good FTY! Step back. Not as high as the back half UCLA ones but very serious vault. 9.8
Ulias (UCLA): Toe blind a touch late to Jaeger, high and lovely, toe on to bail. Stalder to double back, has it for a second before hopping back to salute. 9.85
Kirsch (SJSU): Tsuk tuck full with a skip-step situation substantially backwards. 9.55
Esparza (UCLA): Maloney to Pak, van Leeuwen, very clean, double layout with leg separation dead stuck. 9.875
Marquez (SJSU): Yurchenko tuck full, big hop back. 9.55
Dennis (UCLA): Caught wrong on her Maloney, just about managed to cast out, got ready for the bail and didn’t like it, jumped off. Double layout with a hop on the second try. Don’t think she ever actually did the bail.
Orcutt (SJSU): We didn’t see the vault, just a replay of Dennis. 9.225
Frazier (UCLA): Under pressure/ Maloney to Pak, van Leeuwen, cast out a little short, double layout bouncy-stuck.
Steele in the exh, after getting through a very nice routine on the actual bars she underrotated her dismount and flew forward. Pretty much the same thing happened last week, I couldn’t tell whether she actually dropped a knee this time but it wasn’t ideal either way.
After 2: UCLA 98.425, SJSU 97.075
Disappointment for UCLA. It’s going to be very hard to make a serious dent in the NQS now. San Jose State’s numbers are very comparable to what the Spartans have produced in the last few weeks.
Rotation 3: UCLA BB, SJSU FX
Poston (UCLA): Split to straddle 3/4, BHS BHS LOSO with leg form but steady. One and a half twist with twp different hops. 9.8
Marquez (SJSU): THEY KEEP CALLING HER ANTONIO. Whip half Rudi, wolf full tuck 3/2, double back ever so slightly underrotated. 9.75
Sakti (UCLA): Got the LOSO LOSO. Switch to split lovely, side somi, side aerial back full nice and high, stuck. 9.9
Henley (SJSU): Chest slightly down on double back but lunges out fine, switch side Popa. Rudi with a big hop back. One and a half front lay. 9.575
Frazier (UCLA): Switch leap, pretty sure she intended a connection there but she covered it well, switch to straddle, there it is. Front aerial back tuck borderline on creditability, full turn, gainer front full with a hop. She looks mad, I don’t know if I missed something but I’m pretty sure she fixed the only composition issue she had?
Kelperis (SJSU): One and a half front lay. Her music is Sweet Dreams by the Eurythmics and I honestly freaking love it. Tour jete full. Double back, chest down. That was so fun! Very dramatic music and she can pull it off. 9.7
Campbell (UCLA): Double wolf, BHS LOSO with an adjustment. Quick leap series and a cartwheel gainer full. I’m always surprised by how fast this routine is over but the wolf turn beefs up the start value.
Macpherson (SJSU): Double pike, slightly hoppy, switch ring switch side. One and a half front lay really clean. Switch half to split drop! Double back with a step forward. 9.75
Esparza (UCLA): BHS LOSO good, adjusts through her leap series but makes it work, side aerial back full stuck. 9.825
Mazury (SJSU): Front lay front full really good. Nirvana routine, they’re really killing it with the floor music choices. Touch undercooked on her double pike. 9.8
Dennis (UCLA): Full turn, BHS LOSO and falls. Switch switch half good, one and a half landed on her heels with two big steps back. Third straight fall for her.
Orcutt (SJSU): Front full front full, switch switch ring 1/2, BHS LOSO, one and a half front lay whippy.
Nicki Shapiro got through her routine solidly and will very likely have her beam lineup spot back next week. Pauline Tratz also managed a very clean, albeit not incredibly fluid, beam routine in the second exhibition spot.
After 3: UCLA 147.600, SJSU 145.700
SJSU’s lack of preparation showed in some rotation issues on floor, but overall it was a very appealing, polished rotation that would have been popular with a full Pauley crowd. UCLA is lukewarm today overall and it’s unfortunate to see Dennis’ mental issues continue,
Kelperis (SJSU): My stream briefly cut out, caught a running punch front full landed well.
Andres (UCLA): Front double full punch front, round off double back landed very securely. Switch half Popa underrotated. Orphan switch leap.
Mazury (SJSU): Hitch kick side aerial, full turn, BHS LOSO with a check, straddle 1/2, one and a half twist with leg separation and sat. Oops.
Wright (UCLA): Two and a half, decently controlled, Rudi to split. Great leaps, one and a half front lay stuck! There’s something so satisfying about a stuck front lay. 9.875
Macpherson (SJSU): Switch split, BHS BHS LOSO great, gainer LOSO, one and a half well don. Super difficult.
Frazier (UCLA): Whip to double back good, shuffly on the double pike, super chaotic rotation on her leaps at the end which contribute a bunch of difficulty so not sure what they’ll do. (Probably nothing.) 9.775, they may actually have hit the leaps.
Milne (SJSU): Side aerial LOSO, I think that was a front aerial to split to BHS?, one and a half twist with a hop. 9.75
Campbell (UCLA): Front double full stuck awkwardly, great extension on her switch to Popa, front lay front full very good. 9.925
Henley (SJSU): BHS LOSO, cat leap switch half that did not exceed 90 degrees, side aerial. Stuck the one and a half twist.
Tratz (UCLA): Scoot back on double pike, switch ring tour jete half. One and a half front lay, almost underrotated the double back but kept her front foot down. Waved goodbye to the arena and I almost had an emotion for a second. 9.925
Sanchez (SJSU): Nice to let her anchor back in Pauley. Cool flexibility on the opening choreography, front aerial BHS tenuous, check on the full turn, gainer front aerial great. Split to sheep, marginally better sheep position than you usually see in NCAA, needle scale. Gainer pike super close to the beam with a hop. 9.675
Dennis (UCLA): Gets a hug from Wright before she walks on. Front lay to double back, solid but steps forward, little hop on her gorgeous front lay front full. Tour jete half split full great, bound back on the Rudi. Good for her to get a solid one even if it wasn’t as sharp as she can be. 9.925 is maybe generous.
BHS to Onodi from Kirsch in the SJSU exhibition, not gorgeous but admirable.
FINAL: UCLA 197.100, SJSU 193.575
This meet was average for San Jose State after counting a fall on beam, but it’s still so hard to understate what SJSU is accomplishing this year on so little prep. This team’s January workouts were yoga mats on the literal sidewalk! Mercedez Sanchez was recognized by Chris Waller at the end of the meet and got to briefly on mic (though it didn’t look like she necessarily wanted to…)
UCLA tied its season high but still didn’t look particularly strong, counting shaky outings on bars and beam. The clock is ticking for Dennis to figure out whatever’s going on with her mental game. Nationals looks a very long way away for the Bruins, who are now fighting to even remain a favorite for a Round 3 regional.
VT: Nia Dennis (UCLA) 9.900
UB: Margzetta Frazier (UCLA) 9.900
BB: Samantha Sakti (UCLA) 9.900
FX: Chae Campbell, Nia Dennis, Pauline Tratz (UCLA) 9.925
AA: Chae Campbell (UCLA) 39.500
Live blog by Rebecca Scally
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