Monday, April 15

Despite career highs, UCLA gymnastics falls to Cal in final Pac-12 home meet

Junior Emily Lee poses on beam at Pauley Pavilion in a meet against California on Sunday. Lee posted a 9.950 on beam, one of three 9.9-plus scores she achieved from the leadoff spot in the beam, vault and floor lineups. (Jake Greenberg-Bell/Daily Bruin staff)

Emily Lee led off vault by tying her career high.

She led off beam with a career high.

And on the final rotation, the junior led off floor with yet another.

“No one goes in front of me, so it’s like a clean slate,” Lee said. “There’s always pressure for me to do good, … but I never really feel that.”

But on Sunday, Lee’s three 9.9-plus scores weren’t enough for the Bruins to overcome the Golden Bears.

No. 9 UCLA gymnastics fell to No. 3 California in its second conference loss this season and last Pac-12 home meet in program history. Despite several career highs, the Bruins were unable to surpass the Golden Bears’ highest-ever team score, 198.400-197.775.

“We want to be able to compete with the best teams in the country,” said coach Janelle McDonald. “I’ve seen things that are getting better, and I think that we can continue to build on that.”

To begin action, Lee stuck her Yurchenko full and tied her career high with a 9.900. But a lackluster rotation followed, with freshman Katelyn Rosen’s 9.875 as the only score that came close to the 9.9 mark. 

Rosen finished the day with a 39.525 in the all-around, a career high.

The Bruins recorded a season-low 49.125 as they trailed the Golden Bears by .525 at the end of the first rotation.

“Vault was an area that we felt we were doing really well in previous competitions,” McDonald said. “It was a good reminder for us to not take anything for granted and to really – from the start to finish – attack those events.”

Bars, however, were a different story.

On McDonald’s specialty event, UCLA earned a season-high 49.575 – thanks to career-high 9.950s from seniors Chae Campbell and Frida Esparza – to cut into Cal’s lead. 

Senior Chae Campbell swings on bars at Pauley Pavilion against California. Campbell posted career highs on bars and beam en route to UCLA’s ultimate score of 197.775. (Jake Greenberg-Bell/Daily Bruin staff)

Campbell said her career- and meet-high on her weaker event meant a lot to her.

“I feel like I’ve always had a really rough relationship with bars my entire career,” Campbell said. “It’s just a reflection of how far I’ve come on that event.” 

Sophomore Selena Harris matched her teammates’ 9.950s, while sophomore Maddie Anyimi recorded a season-high 9.825.

UCLA shrunk its deficit to three-tenths at the halfway point, posting a 98.700 to Cal’s 99.000.

On Monday’s beam rotation, the Bruins failed to eclipse the 49 mark despite not counting a fall. But six days later provided redemption, as they posted their third-highest beam score of the season with a 49.450.

“That was the focus this week of keeping our foot on the gas,” Campbell said. “That was kind of at the forefront of our minds.”

Leading off again, Lee once again provided a strong score, posting a 9.950 to begin the Bruins’ third rotation.

After back-to-back 9.825s from senior Emma Andres and Rosen, Campbell and Esparza once again followed with career-high-tying scores, posting a 9.925 and 9.900, respectively.

“Coming back from last meet and a couple of meets this season, we’ve had so many small details that are easy to fix, but we just haven’t been able to get there,” Lee said. “Back in the gym this past week, we’ve been grinding, we’ve been really listening, being intentional to all the little things.” 

Going into its highest-ranked event, UCLA trailed Cal by over five-tenths.

Lee posted her final career-high leadoff – this time, a 9.900 on floor. Andres, Rosen and Harris followed suit with three 9.925s, and graduate student Nya Reed anchored the meet with a 9.950.

“Today was one of my favorite floor parties because there were so many people that the little things were just clicking for,” McDonald said. “There were really clean routines out there.”

The Bruins’ 49.625 on the event was their second-highest floor score of the season, but it was not enough to overcome the Golden Bears, who emerged with a .625 advantage after the final rotation.

Despite the loss, McDonald says she is confident in her team’s ability to achieve its goals as it draws closer to the postseason.

“By the end of the season, we’re going to be where we want to be,” McDonald said.

Sports contributor

Trimbell is currently a contributor on the gymnastics and rowing beats.

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