Emma Malabuyo UCLA

LIVE BLOG: No. 3 Utah at No. 22 UCLA

Pac-12 gymnastics on a Friday night? What a treat! The conference’s most storied rivalry has made its way to Pauley Pavilion, where the winners of the last seven Pac-12 titles will face off once again. Utah has prevailed in the last three matchups, including the 2021 Pac-12 championship. The Red Rocks also bring a significantly higher scoring average so far in 2022, but in a meet that has so often come down to the tiniest of margins, anything can happen.

There has been a ton of buzz around Utah leading up to the start of the season, and in January, the performances lived up to it. The Red Rocks have not scored below 197, and are leading the nation on beam after posting a massive 49.725 last week. Junior Maile O’Keefe scored a perfect 10.0 on the event en route to a 39.550 in her first all around competition of the season, earning her Pac-12 Gymnast of the Week honors. Senior Cristal Isa was named Pac-12 Specialist of the Week after matching her career high of 9.950 on bars and earning a 9.925 on beam, her fourth-straight beam score of 9.900 or higher. Utah has also been boosted by one of the most impressive freshman classes in the country, featuring Olympians Grace McCallum, Amelie Morgan and Kara Eaker, as well as level 10 standout Sage Thompson. The Red Rocks have national championship aspirations, and a quality win tonight would put them one step closer.

UCLA also had the country talking with its freshman class, which was ranked No. 1 by the editors here at College Gym News. Olympians Jordan Chiles, Brooklyn Moors and Emma Malabuyo are joined by world beam medalist Ana Padurariu, U.S. National Team member Emily Lee and level 10 star Mia Erdoes. These newcomers have contributed nearly half of the Bruins’ routines so far, with Chiles and Malabuyo having competed in the all-around. Senior Norah Flatley is also contributing on all four events after missing all of 2021, and scored a career-high 39.450 to take the all around crown last week. UCLA is improving, but is certainly not having the start to the season it hoped for. Senior all-arounder Margzetta Frazier suffered a broken foot during the first meet and will likely be out for several more weeks.

An upset win against the defending conference champion would be gigantic for UCLA while Utah will likely focus on posting a huge road road score after competing in Utah for three straight weeks. Get ready to watch some big names and beautiful gymnastics!

UCLA tentative lineups

Rotation 1: UCLA VT, Utah UB

Tratz (UCLA): High Yurchenko full, a bit under rotated and takes a small hop forward. 9.775

Morgan (Utah): Maloney to Bhardwaj done well, hits the low bar and high bar handstands, nails the blind full to double tuck dismount. Great start! 9.900

Poston (UCLA): Piked front half, slightly over rotates and takes two small steps back. Great in the air and she’s excited. 9.825

Burch (Utah): Starts off with a Yaeger, nailing the handstands so far. Big leg separation on the double layout dismount but finishes with a nearly stuck landing. 9.825

Flatley (UCLA): Stick straight Yurchenko full in the air with good height and distance, just a hop back. 9.825

Thompson (Utah): Good first handstand, flies high in the Pak, great form on the inbar Geinger, finishes with a great double layout and sticks. Should be a big number! 9.875

Moors (UCLA): Good front pike half, lands with her chest down and takes a small step back. 9.850

McCallum (Utah): Good handstands on the Maloney and Pak transition, floats the half in half out dismount and sticks! She took out the connections and it paid off. 10.000!

Chiles (UCLA): Beautiful form on the Tsuk full, takes a hop back. 9.875

Isa (Utah): Great Ray to start, doing well with the handstands in her transitions, blind full to double layout with a tiny step back. 9.900

Campbell (UCLA): GIGANTIC Yurchenko full! Just a small hop back. I hope they reward her for her power. 9.900

O’Keefe (Utah): Good rhythm on the transition elements, hits the final handstand, takes a small hop back on the double Arabian dismount. 9.875

AFTER ONE: Utah 49.550, UCLA 49.275

Utah rocked the first couple of bars routines, but gave away a few tenths on landings in the back half of the lineup. Looks like it’s still a season high though! So exciting to see Grace get her first NCAA perfect 10.0! It’s a simple routine for her, but it looks like not trying to connect all of her skills will help her produce more huge bars scores for the Red Rocks. UCLA with a season high on vault, no stuck landings but looking a little more season-ready than previous weeks. Don’t count out the Bruins just yet as they head to their strongest events.

Rotation 2: Utah VT, UCLA UB

Hoffman (Utah): Nice Yurchenko full, good form in the air but not a ton of height and distance. Just a small hop back. 9.875

Campbell (UCLA): Nice opening handstand, big amplitude on Maloney to bail, hits the final handstand, a bit cowboyed on the double front but lands with only a small hop. Solid start! 9.850

Hall (Utah): Stuck Yurchenko one and a half! Some knee bend in the air and lands with her feet a bit staggered. 9.925

Ulias (UCLA): Perfect first handstand, huge Yaeger, hits the handstand in the bail and on the high bar, perfect form on the double layout but over rotates and takes a pretty big hop back. 9.875

Stanhope (Utah): Great Yurchenko one and a half with a small hop forward. Much better form in the air than the last vault and lots of distance. 9.950

Padurariu (UCLA): Doing well with the handstands in the transition combo, some form breaks on the backswing, hits the final handstand and does a great blind full to double back! 9.850

Rucker (Utah): Great height on the one and a half, not a ton of distance but great form in the air and just a small step forward. 9.900

Malabuyo (UCLA): Huge amplitude on the transition combo, goes over on the low bar pirouette and has to take an extra swing, recovers with a hit final handstand and a stuck double layout dismount. 9.775

Burch (Utah): Falls on the one and a half, just not enough rotation or distance. 9.250

Chiles (UCLA): Perfect fist handstand, nails the piked Tkathev to Pak, hold the low bar handstand for 500 years, holds the high bar handstand for about 450, beautiful form on the half in half out, is it a stick? If not, it’s pretty darn close! Incredible routine! 9.925

McCallum (Utah): Half on tucked half off, nearly stuck. 9.900

Flatley (UCLA): Great opening handstand, hits the Yaeger and bail handstand, great final handstand, cranks those giants for a perfectly stuck double layout. What an improvement for this bars lineup! 9.950!

Rotation 2 Scores: Utah 49.550, UCLA 49.450

AFTER TWO: Utah 99.100, UCLA 98.725

A season high vault rotation has Utah on pace for a 198 after two rotations. The form in the air was well rewarded, as there is still some improvement possible on landings. UCLA looked a lot more like UCLA during that bars rotation, with huge air, beautiful form, nailed handstands and quite a few sticks. ESPN says the Bruins posted five season highs! Chiles was phenomenal in what may be the most difficult bars routine in the country, and Flatley is having herself a heck of a senior season. It’s going to be a great second half!

Rotation 3: UCLA BB, Utah FX

Padurariu (UCLA): Nice candle mount to start, nails the side aerial bhs series, slight wobble on the leap series, great sheep jump with no wobble, nails the side aerial to layout full dismount! She’s turning into an excellent leadoff for the Bruins. 9.900!

Hoffman (Utah): Big double layout to start, controlled lunge back. Huge height on the leaps and hits the positions well. One and a half to front layout, feet slide out from under her a tiny bit but it shouldn’t be a big landing deduction. 9.875

Malabuyo (UCLA): Nails the wolf turn to start, sideways on the bhs loso and unfortunately can’t save it. Connection break on the front aerial to beat jump, nails the next combo. Finishes with a nailed bhs loso full twist dismount. 9.300

Paulson (Utah): Front through to two and a half, well-controlled. Another great landing on the front layout front full. Nice leap pass and nails the one and a half to front layout. Not much to take there. 9.900

Chiles (UCLA): Looks like she’s on a mission after the fall before her, moving aggressively. Nails the bhs loso and leap series. Huge height on the switch leap to wolf jump. Finishes with a double pike and takes a small hop back. Good recovery! 9.900

Rucker (Utah): Full-twisting double back, big step and goes oob. Great height on the leap pass and on the front layout front full. Controls the landing well. Solid routine, but she’s not thrilled. 9.700

Moors (UCLA): Sizable wobble on the opening leaps, hits the front acro series and dance elements. Finishes with a great front handspring front one and a half with a stick. 9.875

McCallum (Utah): A bit of a slide of the front foot on the full-twisting double back, great leap series, finishes with a punch front layout to Rudi, great control on that landing. 9.950

Flatley (UCLA): Nails the front aerial to bhs loso combo but a big wobble on the leg up full turn. Perfect switch leap split jump. Finishes with a bhs one and a half dismount, small hop forward. 9.825

O’Keefe (Utah): Great double pike to start, bounces back a bit and nearly goes out but shouldn’t be too big of a deduction. Good wolf turn. Great height and control on the one and a half to front full to finish! 9.925

Campbell (UCLA): Nails the bhs loso to start! Slightly misses position on the split leap but much better on the switch half. Wobble and break of connection on the second leap series. Finishes with the cartwheel gainer full off the side and sticks it! UCLA will drop the fall and survive the beam. 9.825

Soloski (Utah): Nails the sky-high double layout first pass. No problems on the leaps and good control on the front layout front full. Perfect control on the one and a half to front layout. Wonderful routine! 9.950

Rotation 3 Scores: UCLA 49.325, Utah 49.600

AFTER THREE: Utah 148.700, UCLA 148.050

UCLA with its third season high score of the day! A bit of a scare with Malabuyo’s fall, but the Bruins fought through the nerves to recover well. Flatley and Moors must have distracted the judges with their beauty, because those were some pretty big wobbles for 9.8s. It will be interesting to see what happens if Utah can nails some routines like it often does. The Red Rocks were great on floor, counting nothing below a 9.875 after dropping the oob. This could be another gigantic team score for them, but it all comes down to beam!

Rotation 4: Utah BB, UCLA FX

Morgan (Utah): Opens with a bhs bhs loso, no wobbles to be seen. A wit wonky on the arabesque, but recovers well with the leap series. Perfect full turn and nails the side aerial to full twist! Great start! 9.900

Flatley (UCLA): Best landing of the season on the triple twist! Incredible to see her tumbling like that. Does a front double for the second pass, a bit too much power and skips the leap out of it, but stays in bounds. Incredible switch ring! Finishes with a one and a half to front layout, perfect form and great control. 9.925!

Randall (Utah): Off on the bhs loso, she’s a little rattled when she gets back on and does hit the position in the split leap or sheep jump. Great Rulfova and fights to hit the one and a half dismount, just a small hop forward. 9.350

Wright (UCLA): Great to see her in the lineup! Opens with a two and a half to punch front, too much power and the back leg comes off the ground but she stays in bounds. Punch front to Rudi, again a bit too much power but it’s just a small slide of the front foot this time. Finishes with a one and a half to front tuck. I absolutely can’t with this routine. Give it all the views and give her all the money. 9.825

McCallum (Utah): Off on the bhs loso! Oh no! Recovers well with the switch leap to stag jump. Fantastic side aerial to full twist dismount with a stick. Tough start to the rotation and this meet just got a lot more interesting. 9.150

Moors (UCLA): Oob on the double front, but shouldn’t be too big of a landing deduction, just a bit over rotated. Floats the round off loso side pass. Good leap pass. Whips the front full to front half final pass and the chest was a bit down. Not her best, but a hit. 9.625

Paulson (Utah): Nails the side aerial loso series. Good flexibility on the switch leap to split jump. Fantastic side aerial to layout full dismount! Incredible recovery for Utah. 9.900

Tratz (UCLA): Big double pike to start, great control on the landing. Nice control on the leap pass as well. Floats the one and a half to front layout and gets another good landing. Chest down a bit on the double back last pass but nearly sticks. Great routine for her! 9.925

Isa (Utah): Great bhs loso loso series, just a slight move of the hips on landing. Good leaps and finishes with a stuck bhs gainer full dismount! 9.925

Chiles (UCLA): Great double layout to start. Front through to double back, great control. Huge height on the leap pass. Finishes with a great double pike! Chest slightly low but that was a great routine for UCLA. It’s a 10.000!

O’Keefe (Utah): Nails the side aerial loso series. Great switch leap switch leap series. Side aerial to full twist dismount stuck! That could very well have clinched the meet. 9.975

Campbell (UCLA): Fantastic full-twisting double back to start! Great control on the one and a half to front layout, and into some truly iconic dance. Wonderful landing on the double back to finish! That should be another big score! 9.925

Rotation 4 Scores: Utah 49.050, UCLA 49.600

FINAL RESULTS: Utah 197.750, UCLA 197.650

Welp, this meet is always crazy, and that last rotation brought all the chaos we’ve grown to love. Utah looked vulnerable after two early falls, but nailed the last three routines to take this one and produce its second-highest score of the season. UCLA was fantastic on floor (if a bit overscored in a couple places), but really put together a complete meet today. The Bruins destroyed their season high score by 1.250 to finally look like a contender. Good for them after the hardships these athletes have faced! Chiles was fantastic, winning the all around with a 39.700. She’s really starting to come into her own, and it’s going to be fun to watch her over the next four years.

Event Winners

VT: Stanhope (Utah) 9.950

UB: McCallum (Utah) 10.000

BB: O’Keefe (Utah) 9.975

FX: Chiles (UCLA) 10.000

AA: Chiles (UCLA) 39.700

Ryan’s Stories of the Night

What a meet for UCLA. The Bruins posted season highs on every event to nearly take this one from Utah, which had some struggles on beam in the last rotation. It could have been a gigantic number for the Red Rocks, but a 197.750 with a fall is no laughing matter. This team is definitely a front-runner for a spot in the Final Four. Individually, we got to see two more star freshmen capture their first perfect 10s, likely the first of many. McCallum won’t be happy with her all around performance today, but that bars routine will be one to remember. We’ve talked about Chiles, but Norah Flatley posted a career high 39.525 in the all around today, and Chae Campbell got a 39.500. Having three all arounders of that caliber is a good sign for the Bruins. Onward and upward.

Thanks for tuning in! Everyone stay safe, warm, and well this weekend!

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Live blog by Ryan Wichtendahl

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