The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

2020 UCLA Bruins

UCLA BRUINS
Seniors
Anna Glenn
UB
BB
  • Competed 6 UBs (hit 5 of 6) & 1 BB (9.850) in 2019
  • Peak of 9.875 on UB
  • Made final VT lineup in 2018 with RQS of 9.825
Grace Glenn
UB
BB
  • Competed BB in 11 of 16 meets in 2019
  • #2 returning score on BB (9.900)
  • Competed 1 VT (9.750) and 2 UB (avg 9.275) in 2019
Felicia Hano
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Competed nearly weekly VT, FX in 2019
  • #2 returning score on VT (9.930)
  • #3 returning score on FX (9.925)
  • Competed UB in 11 of 16 meets, NQS of 9.840
Madison Kocian
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Competed only UB, BB in 2019 season
  • #2 returning score on UB (9.945)
  • Competed BB in 14 of 16 meets, NQS of 9.840
Gracie Kramer
VT
FX
  • Competed FX each week, VT in 9 of 16 meets in 2019
  • #2 returning score on FX (9.930)
  • Avg of 9.778 on VT, peak of 9.850
Kyla Ross VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Competed AA in 13 of 16 meets in 2019
  • Recorded fourteen 10.0s (6 UB, 4 VT, 2 BB, 2 FX)
  • Finished regular season ranked #1 AA
  • #1 returning score on all four events (9.995 UB, 9.970 VT, 9.960 FX, 9.950 BB)
Mercedez Sanchez  
  • Did not compete in first three seasons
Nicki Shapiro
UB
BB
  • Returns to the roster for 2020 season
  • Last competed in 2016 with 9 BBs (peak of 9.925, avg 9.638) and 1 UB (9.725)
Macy Toronjo UB
FX
  • Returns for fifth year in 2020
  • Competed 2 UBs (both 9.800) and 1 FX (9.850) in 2019
  • Made final FX lineup in 2017 (peak of 9.950)
Juniors
Nia Dennis
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Competed VT every week in 2019
  • #3 returning score on VT (9.890)
  • Competed 11 FXs, 8 UBs, 7 BBs in 2019
  • NQS of 9.870 FX, 9.670 BB
  • Avg of 9.814 UB
Savannah Kooyman
UB
  • Competed 3 UBs in 2019 (9.775 peak)
  • Competed 3 UBs, 1 FX in 2018
Kendal Poston
VT
BB
  • Competed 3 VTs in 2019 (9.800 peak)
  • Competed 1 BB for 9.850
Pauline Tratz
VT
FX
  • Competed VT every meet, FX in 14 of 16 in 2019
  • RQS of 9.900 FX, 9.850 VT
Sophomores
Norah Flatley
VT
UB

BB
FX
  • Competed UB, BB every meet in 2019
  • #3 returning score on UB (9.920), BB (9.885)
  • Competed 2 VTs, 1 FX (all 9.750)
Margzetta Frazier
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Competed UB every meet in 2019, 9.915 NQS
  • Competed FX in 12 of 16 meets for 9.905 NQS
  • Showed 3 VTs for 9.800 avg
Samantha Sakti
BB
FX
  • Transfer from William & Mary
  • Competed VT, BB, FX for W&M
  • Peak of 9.925 FX, 9.875 BB, 9.800 VT
Sara Taubman
UB
  • Did not compete in first season
Sekai Wright
VT
FX
  • Competed VT in 13 of 16 meets in 2019
  • NQS of 9.855, peak of 9.875
Freshmen
Emma Andres
VT
BB
  • Byers
  • 25th AA, 2019 JO Nationals
Paige Hogan
FX
  • Waller’s
  • 9th VT & FX, 2019 Region 1s
Chloe Lashbrooke
VT
FX
  • Gold Medal
  • 1st FX, 2019 Region 1s
Kalyany Steele VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Colorado Aerials
  • 13th AA, 2017 US Nationals
  • 3rd AA, 2017 US Classic

FINAL SEASON RANKING
2019 – 3rd
2018 – 1st
2017 – 4th
2016 – 5th
2015 – 11th
2014 – 8th
2013 – 4th
2012 – 3rd
2011 – 2nd
2010 – 1st

THE 2019 STORY
UCLA did quite well throughout 2019, recording some remarkable scores and showing a performance consistency from the very first week of the season we don’t always see from this team.

Coming off a national title the previous season, however, a 3rd-place finish is always going to feel like a letdown. Heading into 2019, another title looked like a very real possibility for UCLA, and it didn’t happen. UCLA spent the year as the #2 team and most likely challenger to Oklahoma but just didn’t bring it in the final and ended up at #3.

DEPARTED 2019 ROUTINES
Katelyn Ohashi – BB, FX
Brielle Nguyen – BB

The issue with UCLA’s departed routines is not the number but the importance. The team has plenty of routines to go into those Ohashi spots, but they’re not necessarily going to get…you know…10s.

INCOMING GYMNASTS
Not much is expected from UCLA’s freshman class of four. The featured gymnast there is Kalyany Steele, someone who should make appearances but has also been out of competition for a long time and showed only a bars routine at Meet the Bruins.

Basically, we saw more new coaches than new routines, which makes UCLA’s lineups among the most predictable in NCAA this year. There’s just not a lot of need or opportunity for turnover there.

2020 PROJECTION
UCLA will enter the 2020 season among the top crop of title contenders, and expectations for scores and ranking should be largely in keeping with what we saw during the regular season in 2019. There’s little reason to adjust because the gymnasts are almost all the same, and concerns about whether the team would still be all…UCLA and whatnot without Val were lessened somewhat by a very on-brand exhibition performance yesterday, both gymnastically and culturally. This looks like the same team.

VAULT

2019 Event Ranking: 3

Lineup locks: Kyla Ross, Felicia Hano, Nia Dennis, Pauline Tratz
Lineup options: Sekai Wright, Kendal Poston, Gracie Kramer, Marz Frazier, Kalyany Steele

Because there’s little turnover this year, these lineups are fairly easy to project. We’ll see Ross and Hano come back with 1.5s that will need to provide the highest scores in the lineup, and while Dennis can do a 1.5, the full has tended to be the score-smart decision for her because it can get 9.900. Tratz’s full is also too solid to be left out.

Sekai Wright proved inconsistent at times with her 1.5 landing last year, but she’s good enough to come back into the lineup with it this year. The sixth position was certainly a conundrum for UCLA in 2019 with the hit-and-miss 1.5 from Kramer ultimately getting the final spot. Of note, the team developed Kendal Poston’s handspring pike 1/2 last year, getting it close to lineup level, and it’s reasonable to think Poston could continue that path and break into the group to take that sixth spot from Kramer in 2020.

Ideally, Marz Frazier would be vaulting because she’s more than good enough, but we didn’t see her vault much last year, and when she did it was with a full that didn’t quite meet final-lineup expectations. So, we can’t expect anything there yet. Kalyany Steele was also a strong vaulter in her elite days, which is something UCLA would hope to have as a lineup option, but she didn’t vault yesterday.

This lineup didn’t lose any routines from last season, so scoring expectations should stay exactly the same. This isn’t the most 10.0 starts we’ll see across the country, and UCLA won’t be expected to rank among the top 1-2 vaulting teams, but if those 1.5s get the landing control down as we go once again, we’ll see some big numbers flying.

BARS

2019 Event Ranking: 1

Lineup locks: Kyla Ross, Madison Kocian, Norah Flatley, Marz Frazier
Lineup options: Nia Dennis, Kalyany Steele, Felicia Hano, Anna Glenn, Macy Toronjo, Sara Taubman, Nicki Shapiro, Savannah Kooyman

UCLA also doesn’t lose any bars routines from last year’s lineup, so basically the goal will be to use last year’s lineup of Frazier, Dennis, Hano, Flatley, Kocian, Ross—with hopefully Steele coming in for Hano to raise the scoring potential a little. Steele is showing the makings of a smooth set, and while Hano has continued to improve on bars and clean up her routine, it’s a mid-9.8s set. You can count it, and it’s fine, but it’s not the top routine. We didn’t see Kocian on bars at MTB, but of course she would need to be back there for the team to be at its best. UCLA was the #1 bars team last season, so expectations will be highly high this time around as well.

And now that we’ve dispensed with that lineup slop, I can talk about the routine composition that Kyla showed on bars and how…stop. Don’t do it. She did Maloney to Pak to Maloney to bail, and while the Pak is gorgeous, having a second Maloney in the routine adds nothing to the overall experience. If you’re not going to put in a same-bar release or a new wow-element for her, then just go back to last year’s composition, which is still a 10.0 start, and collect all the 10s that she will inevitably get for that perfect routine.

In terms of backups to the seven gymnasts named, Anna Glenn would be the ideal, but we didn’t see her at MTB and there are also people like Macy Toronjo who can come in.

BEAM

2019 Event Ranking: 2

Lineup locks: Kyla Ross, Norah Flatley, Grace Glenn
Lineup options: Madison Kocian, Samantha Sakti, Nia Dennis, Felicia Hano, Kendal Poston, Marz Frazier, Nicki Shapiro,

Beam presents the most replacement work for UCLA because the lineup has lost both Ohashi and Nguyen, who provided essential scores last season alongside Ross, Flatley, Kocian, and Grace Glenn.

In terms of Nguyen, UCLA has reacted to her departure by bringing in a different transfer beamer in Samantha Sakti and being like, “You’re Brielle right,” and she’s like, “No I’m an entirely different person named Samantha” and they’re like, “Hi Brielle.” Sakti has the potential to get into this lineup, though there’s some real competition for spots.

Replicating Ohashi’s beam score will be a challenge of course because Ohashi. There’s not a casual new beamer who’s going to step up and get 9.950 every week. Instead, the strategy for keeping up the same level should be to, you know, move Grace Glenn from the leadoff to the 5th position, and suddenly that exact same routine is getting 9.950s. Big rotation scores are also probably incumbent on Kocian being a little more secure this season. Kocian has been a bit too likely to get blown off course by the flap of a hummingbird wing for 9.825 in her career, and UCLA is going to need sure, 9.9able routines from her this year.

If Ross, Flatley, Glenn, and Kocian are delivering the top scores, then someone like Sakti can come in, or Nia Dennis has the potential for a nice routine if she’s confident, and Hano and Frazier have been showing sets, and Poston was close to making the lineup last season, and Anna Glenn has shown a pretty routine before. Options. Those last few spots are still pretty unsettled, and it’s reasonable to expect a little score drop without Ohashi, but this still should be a strong event for UCLA.

FLOOR

2019 Event Ranking: 1

Lineup locks: Felicia Hano, Kyla Ross, Gracie Kramer
Lineup options: Pauline Tratz, Marz Frazier, Nia Dennis, Madison Kocian, Norah Flatley, Macy Toronjo, Sekai Wright, Chloe Lashbrooke, Kalyany Steele

Debuting bespoke leotards for each of the lineup routines at Meet The Bruins allowed UCLA to have its DON’T WORRY WE’RE STILL A LOT moment even though Val wasn’t there. So everyone’s OK again. (Even if a few too many of the routines feel like imitations of their own previous routines.) But on to the lineup, UCLA had seven pretty much equally strong options for the lineup last season, and with only Ohashi’s routine leaving, that leaves an obvious default six for UCLA’s final floor group: Frazier, Kramer, Dennis, Tratz, Ross, Hano. At least until we see otherwise.

The most important routine in that regard belongs to Marz Frazier, who was dropped from the lineup at the last minute in 2019 but is so talented on floor and important to the team (and, let’s be honest, most likely to have the viral moment this year) that her consistent presence would be the best thing UCLA could do to make up for not having Ohashi’s auto-10 anymore. You can’t assume someone else is going to come in and get auto-10s, but if Frazier is controlling her landings this season, she’s going to get close. And then the rest of the lineup is the same one we saw in the national final last year.

It will be tough for anyone else to break into that group because all presumed lineup gymnasts had 9.9+ routines last year, though Kocian may make a push. She has scored well before and is Kocian, but preserving her for bars and beam will be the top priority.

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