2019 Preview – UCLA Bruins

UCLA
Seniors
Brielle Nguyen
BB
FX
  • Competed 13 BB routines in 2018 following transfer from Illinois — RQS of 9.850
  • Competed weekly FX in ’17 for Illinois
Katelyn Ohashi
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Ranked #1 in nation on FX, #3 on BB in 2018
  • RQS of 9.970 on FX, 9.945 on BB
  • Competed 12 UB routines for 9.696 avg (scored 9.8+ on 7 of 12)
  • VTed 4 times for 9.831 average
Stella Savvidou
  • Did not compete in 2018 due to injury
  • Further wrist surgery in October
  • Made final UB lineup in 2017
Macy Toronjo UB
FX
  • Did not compete in 2018 due to injury
  • Is no longer listed as taking a redshirt year
  • Competed 8 FXs in 2017, peaking at 9.950
Juniors
Anna Glenn
VT
UB
BB
  • Returned from 2017 labrum injury to make final VT, UB lineups in 2018 – VT RQS of 9.825
  • Competed 5 UB routines, peak of 9.875
  • Competed one BB routine for 9.900
Grace Glenn
BB
  • Returned from 2017 labrum injury to compete BB in every meet in 2018
  • Hit 15 for 15 routines — RQS of 9.925
Felicia Hano
VT
BB
FX
  • Competed weekly VT, FX in 2018 — ranked #7 nationally on FX
  • RQS of 9.935 on FX, 9.900 on VT for Y1.5
  • Competed 2 BB routines (9.775 avg) and one UB routine (9.025) in 2018
Madison Kocian
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Returned from shoulder surgery to compete 13 BBs, 8 FXs, and 3 UBs in 2018
  • RQS of 9.875 on BB
  • Average of 9.861 on FX, 9.863 on UB
  • Also competed weekly VT in 2017 for 9.860 RQS
Gracie Kramer
VT
FX
  • Competed 13 FXs in 2018 for 9.890 RQS
  • Has 10.0 start VT, competed twice in 2018, hitting once
  • VTed 10 times in 2017 for 9.810 RQS
Giulianna Pino
  • Did not compete in first two seasons
Kyla Ross
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Competed AA in 10 of 15 meets in 2018
  • Ranked #1 nationally on UB
  • RQS of 9.960 on UB, 9.910 on BB, 9.895 on VT, 9.890 on FX
Mercedez Sanchez
  • Did not compete in first two seasons
Sophomores
Nia Dennis
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Competed VT, UB every week in 2018
  • Competed 11 FX routines and 3 BB routines
  • RQS of 9.885 on VT, 9.880 on UB, 9.860 on FX
  • Average of 9.792 on BB
Savannah Kooyman
UB
FX
  • Provided backup routines on UB, FX in 2018
  • Competed 3 UBs (9.800 avg) and 1 BB (9.825)
Kendal Poston
  • Did not compete in first season
Pauline Tratz
VT
FX
  • Competed VT, FX in 14 of 15 meets in 2018
  • RQS of 9.910 on FX, 9.875 on VT
  • Has potential 10.0 start on VT
Freshmen
Norah Flatley
UB
BB
FX
  • Chow’s
  • 3rd at 2014 Junior P&G Championships
  • Expected to be replacement-Peng on UB and BB
Margzetta Frazier
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Parkettes
  • Is continuing to train DTY on VT
  • Will be counted on for VT, FX, and UB. Can provide BB as needed
Sara Taubman
  • Head over Heels
  • 12th AA, 2018 Region 1s
Sekai Wright
VT
FX
  • Will miss beginning of 2019 with injury
  • AGA Long Beach
  • 1st on VT, 2018 JO Nationals
  • Has Yurchenko 1.5

FINAL SEASON RANKINGS
2018 – 1st
2017 – 4th
2016 – 5th
2015 – 11th
2014 – 8th
2013 – 4th
2012 – 3rd
2011 – 2nd
2010 – 1st
2009 – 7th

THE STORY
Let’s be honest, for all of UCLA’s improvements in the 2018 season, none of us actually expected the Bruins to win the championship. They were supposed to finish 2nd or 3rd, make great strides to set up a title run in 2019, do a life lesson or two, and close the book on an altogether successful season. That’s not what happened. Christmas came early.

Winning a title bestows de facto favorite status the following year, yet UCLA will know that the 2018 victory did in fact come early. It was an upset, a phenomenal two-event performance on the day but an untenable strategy to maintain if this is to become a dynasty. “We’ll be ranked 3rd all year long, be kind of blah in the first two rotations of the final, and then Peng will get a 20, and wheeee!” isn’t exactly how you draw it up.

Now that this UCLA group has won a title, there’s no going back in terms of expectations, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t improvements to be made. The 2019 roster was always supposed to be better than 2018’s team and does have realistic areas where it can aim higher, scoring weaknesses from 2018 to resolve, and lost meets from last season to win this time around so that a potential title this year would not be an upset. It would be normal.

VAULT 2019
Lineup locks: Marz Frazier, Felicia Hano, Nia Dennis, Kyla Ross
Lineup options: Pauline Tratz, Sekai Wright, Anna Glenn, Gracie Kramer, Kendal Poston, Norah Flatley, Katelyn Ohashi, Madison Kocian

You guys, a tradition is over. We can’t talk about Kyla Ross’s mythical 10.0 start on vault in the UCLA preview this year because it’s not mythical anymore. We saw it for realsies at Meet the Bruins as part of what will be an upgraded vault lineup in 2019. With just two 10.0s, UCLA’s 2018 vault team didn’t have the start values to get the necessary 49.4s in a postseason-scoring context, but this year’s lineup looks significantly more competitive.

Most notably, Marz Frazier should arrive as a lineup-best vaulter. She has been training the DTY in preseason and will need to deliver some manner of 10.0 start for the lineup to meet its true potential. UCLA will also be looking at a new 1.5 from Nia Dennis to join Felicia Hano’s returning 1.5 and take some of the pressure of Hano’s score this year.

Ross did show her own 1.5 at MTB with a large lunge forward (still worth it even with that landing—possibly as a leadoff, banking on some Kyla-scoring to boost the rest of the vaults), and on the topic of borderline 1.5s, Gracie Kramer has returned to the layout version this season. Kramer has been on “in the lineup if she can hit it” status in her first couple years, and the same will be true this season. If UCLA has Dennis and Ross’s 1.5s working, taking a risk with Kramer’s vault may not be as important, but they’ll gladly use it if she becomes a reliable hit. Sekai Wright is currently dealing with an ankle injury, but based on JO performances, she should have a lineup-ready 1.5 of her own when healthy.

All six of these 10.0 vaults coming through with controlled landings in the same lineup may be a stretch, but with so many options, UCLA should have no problem exceeding the two 10.0s from last season. Plus, they’ll still want Pauline Tratz’s full in the lineup over some of these 1.5s, even if her possible 10.0 start doesn’t materialize, and both Dennis and Ross will be in the lineup regardless of whether they’re doing 1.5s or fulls.

Kendal Poston has also made the leap to a handspring front pike 1/2 to deliver another 10.0 possibility, non-Yurchenko type. It wasn’t quite at competition level yet at MTB, but it could get there. Of the remaining fulls, Anna Glenn’s is the most likely possibility, a super clean option that ended up as UCLA’s highest vault score in Super Six last year. Hers could very well make the lineup over a lungey 1.5.

BARS 2019
Lineup locks: Kyla Ross, Madison Kocian, Marz Frazier
Lineup options: Norah Flatley, Anna Glenn, Nia Dennis, Macy Toronjo, Katelyn Ohashi, Felicia Hano, Savannah Kooyman

Bars may present the greatest lineup replacement challenge for UCLA in 2019, having lost the essential routine from Peng as well as a stalwart set from Honest (the only event on which UCLA is losing two Super Six sets from 2018). But, since both Frazier and Flatley are expected to contribute on bars, the lineup project shouldn’t end up being that complicated.

We know Ross and Kocian will be there, leading the lineup with 9.9+s, and Anna Glenn and Nia Dennis will both present options again this year after making the final six last season. We talk about Frazier more for vault and floor, but her bars routine is legit and there will be times this season when it’s her highest score. Norah Flatley is also far too Norah Flatley not to be in this bars lineup. End of story. That’s a very believable six and one that should mostly be able to mimic last season’s scoring, though there is the greatest risk of regression here if no one is quite able to Peng it.

Ideally, Ohashi would make her way into the bars lineup to replace whoever is scoring the lowest in the previously mentioned six, but bars has been a borderline prospect for Ohashi in her NCAA career. Getting a 9.9 from Ohashi on bars (which she can totally do) would be treated as a bonus, but if you’re talking about the six most talented bars workers on the team, she’s obviously in that six.

UCLA will have backup bars sets from Kooyman and Hano should they be needed, but those aren’t going to be final-lineup routines. Although, we do need to talk about Macy Toronjo’s “hey there stranger” moment on bars at MTB. That routine was real, and with a little less rushing, would be super believable.

BEAM 2019
Lineup locks: Katelyn Ohashi, Kyla Ross, Madison Kocian, Norah Flatley
Lineup options: Grace Glenn, Brielle Nguyen, Marz Frazier, Anna Glenn, Nia Dennis, Kendal Poston, Felicia Hano

Sure, UCLA will also have to shuffle on without Peng on beam this year, but the sheer number of compelling options means that the idea of a beam lineup without Peng is far more challenging than the actual reality, in which UCLA shouldn’t have much trouble finding a new 9.9 to fill that spot.

So, anyway, Norah Flatley. She’s tremendous on beam and will be called upon as the new star of the back half of the lineup, joining Ohashi and Ross returning with their realistic 10s. There’s also a little beam routine named Madison Kocian. Kocian is currently dealing with a stress fracture in her leg, because of course she is, but it would also be very Kocian to be like, “I have 18 broken polios, so I’ll be back in exactly one week, here’s my 9.9 on beam.”

That’s a pretty crazy four, added to which you have Grace Glenn and Brielle Nguyen, who more than did the job in the early half of the lineup last season. There’s really not much need to adjust from there, but UCLA could. Beam may be Frazier’s least likely event on which to contribute, but reducing to NCAA composition has made her routine look competitive, Nia Dennis was in the lineup at the beginning of last season and why not, and Anna Glenn provides a realistic routine here as well. And then there’s Kendal Poston and Felicia Hano…

The options are many, though with the number of big-money, obvious routines this team has returning, not messing with a good thing may be the watchword.

FLOOR 2019
Lineup locks: Katelyn Ohashi, Marz Frazier, Felicia Hano, Pauline Tratz
Lineup options: Nia Dennis, Kyla Ross, Gracie Kramer, Madison Kocian, Norah Flatley, Sekai Wright

UCLA doesn’t lose any of the six routines that made the final floor lineup last season and will boost that collection through the addition of Frazier, who should be a late-lineup floor star. UCLA will be very encouraged by the outlook on floor, returning as the #1 FX team from 2018 and clearly upgrading the options for 2019.

In the quest to keep that #1 floor status, UCLA will have Ohashi and Hano and Frazier but will also need to get Nia Dennis into the lineup for real this year. She’s too good at floor, both in tumbling and leaps, not to be competing, and if her piked full-in is on track this season, she’s basically like adding a second powerful freshman to the floor slate.

I expect Tratz to return to the lineup this year, which brings us to five people already with several very realistic options remaining. For instance, Kyla Ross. Floor is not Ross’s best NCAA event, but she has proven she can get the scores and continues to work on endurance and landing position to stay competitive in a deep group. You’d think “duh, Kyla,” but then there’s someone like Gracie Kramer, not to be ignored as a returning option, who was excellent last season with her front 2/1 and has the best choreography on the team for this year.

This slate of choices may mean that there’s no rush in jamming Kocian back into the lineup too quickly, but also she’s Kocian and can get 9.9. So there’s that too.

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23 thoughts on “2019 Preview – UCLA Bruins”

  1. Thanks to The Balance Beam Situation for these excellent previews!

    I would place Grace Glenn in the BB lineup lock category based on her solid performances of last season.

    Grace Glenn arguably was the key to UCLA’s come-from-behind National Championship with her 9.9375 LEADOFF score on beam. She truly set the table for the record-setting SuperSix team beam score of 49.75 including Peng’s 10.

    Grace Glenn’s leap series is exquisite.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. In a TV interview at the recent Meet The Bruins event, Madison Kocian was asked what new faces she was excited about this year. Kocian called out (last season’s beamer) Grace Glenn as “working very hard on bars and other events as well” (for this upcoming season).

        Kocian also called out Marz on floor, Sekai Wright’s tumbling and vault, and Kendal Poston on vault demonstrating “tons of depth this year”. Interview is on Youtube as “Madison Kocian and Kyla Ross Interview Meet The Bruins 2018”.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d argue that if the twins are both at full strength they would edge Nia out of the lineup. Assuming full strength Glenns the best lineup would probably be Ross, Kocian, Frazier, Anna, Grace, and then Norah or Nia in the final spot. I know meet the bruins was Norah’s first (semi) competitive bar routine in 3.5 years, but there’s still a lot of places that need to be polished in order to guarantee a spot in the bars lineup come post-season, especially considering the Bruins potential to be the best bars team in the nation.

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  2. Do we know what Madison Kocian’s plans/injury status will be for this season? At MTB she alluded to maybe being limited to just bars. I know she’s got a femur stress fracture and is still dealing with that pesky shoulder, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re still easing her back in.

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  3. Wild guess but let’s see how close this lineup and order will be to the eventual post-season lineup:

    VT: A Glenn (FTY), Ross (Y1.5), Wright (Y1.5), Hano (Y1.5), Dennis (Y1.5), Frazier (DTY)

    UB: A Glenn, Toronjo, Flatley, Frazier, Kocian, Ross

    BB: G. Glenn, Nguyen, Kocian, Flatley, Ross, Ohashi

    FX: Ross, Tratz, Hano, Frazier, Dennis, Ohashi

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    1. I actually agree with this prediction. Although I still think Grace Glenn could show up for the bars lineup, probably in Toronjo’s spot. I also think Anna should be in the vault lineup, she outscored everyone in the super six and it would be smart to have a secure FTY over an inconsistent/ lunge 10 start. I also think that if Hanos 1.5 still has an uncontrolled landing they could put in Tratz’s FTY or try out Poston.

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      1. I agree about Grace Glenn over Toronjo for bars, but I disagree about Tratz and Poston on vault. Even if Hano is like she was last year, Tratz and Poston would have to improve significantly to beat her out. Hano exceeded Tratz in both RQS and average last year, so I would pick Hano unless Tratz demonstrates that she’s significantly better at sticking this year while Hano still tends to lunge/hop out of the landing. As far as Poston, her vault at Meet the Bruins looked to have in-air deductions as well as an uncontrolled landing, so I wouldn’t even choose her over some of their better fulls until she improves a bit. Additionally, it has become apparent over the last couple years that NCAA judges are judging non-Yurchenko 10.0 vaults more harshly than Y1.5s and doubles. I don’t agree with it, but it’s just the way it is.

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    2. I would put Kramer in on FX instead of Ross. She was much more consistent than Ross last year, plus she has amazing musicality. Everything else I agree with, although I think there will be some surprises on UB

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      1. I definitely agree Kramer has amazing musicality and has a higher peak potential. But I wouldn’t say she was “much more” consistent than Ross last year. They had identical RQS and Ross had a slightly higher average.

        I can imagine Ross competing during semifinals to contend for AA and Kramer competing during finals for the higher potential peak score.

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      2. I think Ross is going to make floor lineups because she’s better than Kramer. She looks in the same shape she was now as she did in April, she’ll only improve. It’s looking like this is a year where Ross has 10 potential on each event. Kramer doesn’t have the same consistency as Ross does. Kramer can make both vault and floor, but I can’t imagine that she’ll be a front runner for either one.

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  4. I feel like Anna Glenn is really underrated on beam. She’s beautifully clean, and that layout to two feet could help her scoring potential. I’m guessing Kocian won’t be in the beam lineup at the beginning of the season due to her injury, and I’m hoping they put Anna in and give her a chance.

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  5. I think there’s a little too much optimism over Flatley and Frazier coming out of the gate with 9.9 routines on multiple events (after all, while Ross and Kocian had epic debut seasons, Ohashi took much longer to find the right routines and consistency in NCAA, and Dennis is also still finding her groove). I hope they turn out to be immediate superstars but sometimes it takes awhile.

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    1. Marz is definitely looking 9.9+ on multiple events. Her DTY looks good in training, her bars can realistically go 10.0 with a stick on her DLO (that shap 1/2 is soooo good), and without going out of bounds, she would have scored 9.95 on floor at MTB.
      Flatley is a bit less prepared, I think, but if she can ditch the switch ring, she should be a 9.9+ beamer! Her bars routine was pretty rough at MTB, but nothing looks technically amiss, she was just very rushed, and with some polish these next few weeks, I think she can go 9.9+ on bars as well.

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      1. I don’t think anyone is doubting that both athletes are capable of posting extremely high scores. Frazier and Flatley are some of the most talented gymnasts in the country, and both are capable of 10s on multiple events if they put out the best routines they’re capable of. I don’t think Ele was questioning that. Rather, I think the point is that we can’t count on 9.9+ scores week in and week out until they’ve actually competed a season of NCAA and shown us they can do that reliably. Merely having the potential to perform exceptionally clean, near-perfect gymnastics doesn’t mean you WILL do that every week all year. For example, Kyla Ross went into her freshman year with the potential to put up great scores on bars, and she did, in fact, go 9.9+ in 11 out of 14 meets her freshman year, indicating that we could count on her in her sophomore year for weekly 9.9+ bars scores. On the other hand, Nia Dennis has the potential to put up great scores on floor, but she only went 9.9+ in 2 out of 11 meets last year, so it seems premature to expect 9.9+ floor scores out of her every week during her sophomore year. She may very well do that, but it would be presumptuous to assume that at this point.

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      2. Yeah, pretty much what Mary said. It’s not like I’m going to be surprised if Frazier gets lots of 9.9s immediately – she totally has the ability. But I feel like people are assuming it is a given when it is not. Lots of gymnasts with tons of potential and talent don’t put it all together consistently until their second or third year. I just don’t think it makes sense to declare that any freshman is a definite 9.9 on multiple events (especially when their training videos look good but still contain major mistakes.)

        I do feel a lot more optimistic given UCLA’s demonstrably better training/conditioning approach and clever routine construction last year. The coaching seems to have really improved.

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  6. VT: Ross, Tratz, Kramer, Hano, Dennis, Frazier Alt: A. Glenn
    UB: A. Glenn, Dennis, Flatley, Frazier, Ross, Kocian Alt: Toronjo/Ohashi
    BB: G. Glenn, A. Glenn, Flatley, Nguyen, Ohashi, Ross Alt: Dennis
    FX: Kramer/Ross, Tratz, Dennis, Hano, Frazier, Ohashi Alt: Flatley

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  7. The banners hanging from UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion ceiling/rafters will change at the season opener on Friday 1/4/19 when the Women’s Gymnastics National Champions 2010 banner is replaced with a 2018 banner…and the summary banner will have 2018 added to it as the seventh UCLA Women’s Gymnastics National Championship.

    Note that women’s banners are gold with blue lettering, whereas men’s banners (such as the banner shown for the now defunct men’s gymnastics team) are blue with gold lettering.

    Image link:
    https://bit.ly/2Ql4ZcE
    (Gymn banners are the more distant lower left banners in the image)

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