It’s no secret that the PAC-12 is struggling to stay relevant in the major money-making sports, but on the gymnastics floor, it’s a different story. With all eight teams ranked in the top 25, Utah and UCLA have established themselves as the cream of the crop, as Utah ranks fourth with UCLA coming in at second place nationally, nearly a half point better on average than the Utes. Now, these two titans ready to face-off Saturday afternoon in the Huntsman Center.
Through seven meets, the Bruins have yet score lower than a 49.075 in any event, with that low score coming in their second week on the vault. In fact, on average, the vault has been the weakest spot for the Bruins in 2019, ranking fourth nationally, two spots behind the Red Rocks. The bad news? Over the last three weeks, UCLA has posted their best scores of the season on the vault, including back-to-back 49.300’s and a season-high 49.425. If this trajectory continues and the Bruins are able to muster even a slightly better score of 49.500, they would match Utah’s season high, which they hit in week two against BYU.
As the visiting team, the Bruins will start on the bars, an area where they have seen wildly dramatic swings in scores from week-to-week. Opening the season with a 49.200, they improved greatly over the next two weeks, posting scores of 49.45 and 49.700 before plummeting back down to a 49.250 in week four. The rollercoaster continued over the last three weeks with scores of 49.650, 49.375 and finally a 49.625 last weekend. Considering Utah’s own inconsistencies on the apparatus, the first two rotations will be incredibly important for both teams.
On the beam, the Bruins come in with an overwhelming advantage, ranking third in the nation, well ahead of the seventh ranked Red Rocks, whose troubles on beam have undoubtedly hurt their chances of breaking into the top three nationally. Much of this success can be attributed to senior star, Katelyn Ohashi. Throughout her career, Ohashi has earned two perfect 10.000’s on the beam, and has yet to score lower than a 9.800 (an uncharacteristically low score, with her season average over her first five contests coming in at an impressive 9.955; by comparison, Utah’s season high is a 9.925, an accomplishment hit by Kari Lee, MaKenna Merrell-Giles and MyKyla Skinner).
Unfortunately for the Red Rocks, Ohashi’s success isn’t limited to the beam. Her floor routines have become viral sensations across the internet, amassing millions of views and a handful of perfect 10.000’s, including three this season. While Utah ranks two spots behind UCLA on the floor, the return of MyKyla Skinner may be enough to rocket the Utes past the Bruins when it matters most.
Coverage for the meet will be available on the PAC-12 Networks at 1:30 PM MT, while fans attending the meet are encouraged to wear red in support of this season’s “Red Out”. Limited tickets are still available through utahtickets.com, including a buy-one-get-one free offer, which gifts fans a free ticket to next weekend’s matchup against Michigan after purchasing a ticket for the UCLA meet.