Katelyn Ohashi and UCLA head coach Valorie Kondos Field embrace during Senior Day ceremonies at Pauley Pavilion on Saturday. Ohashi scored her fifth perfect score of 10 of the season, and was joined by brother Kyle, former coach Susan Brown, and parents Richard and Diana. (MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS / Rafu Shimpo)
Rafu Reports / UCLA ATHLETICS
WESTWOOD.–By the time Katelyn Ohashi was leading the UCLA Alumni Band in “Sons of Westwood,” the party everyone had been expecting was in full swing.
Ohashi, in her final competition before a home crowd at a sold-out Pauley Pavilion, was taking a victory lap after scoring a perfect 10 in her floor exercise. She sprinted past hollering students, collecting high-fives, only to halt briefly in front of the band, wildly conducting the group in UCLA’s iconic fight song.
The day was more sweet than bitter, despite the looming departures of Ohashi and three other seniors, as well as their beloved gymnastics head coach, Valorie Kondos Field.
The meet that ended with Ohashi taking her turn with the maestro’s baton was never really close, as No. 2 Bruins defeated Utah State, 197.575-194.850, in front of 12,270 fans at Pauley.
Kyla Ross completed the “Gym Slam” with her career-first perfect 10 on floor exercise, while Ohashi provided the grand finale to her Pauley career with a perfect score of her own on floor.
Ross set a new school record with a 10 in her seventh straight competition. The junior now has nine this season and 14 for her career. Ohashi has earned five this year and 10 over the course of her time in Westwood.
The 49.825 team score on floor is a season-high for UCLA (12-1). It represents the third-highest score in program history.
Kyla Ross fell during her uneven bars routine, but more than made up for it with a perfect performance in her floor exercise. (MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS / Rafu Shimpo)
Fittingly, the performance took place on Valorie Kondos Field Floor. In a pre-meet ceremony, UCLA Director of Athletics Dan Guerrero paid tribute to the legendary coach and the countless memorable floor exercise routines under her tutelage by unveiling the honor. Kondos Field will retire at the conclusion of the season, her 29th as head coach.
UCLA’s Felicia Hano starred on vault in the first rotation, matching her career-best score of 9.95. Nia Dennis also stuck her landing for a mark of 9.85, while Pauline Tratz checked in at 9.825. Sekai Wright and Gracie Kramer posted scores of 9.775 and 9.7, respectively.
Four Bruins notched scores of 9.9 or higher on uneven bars in the second rotation, with Dennis continuing her stellar day by way of a career-best 9.95. Madison Kocian added a 9.95 of her own. Norah Flatley posted a 9.925 and Margzetta Frazier led off at 9.9 to round out the 9.9 club. Ross scored 9.475 as UCLA extended its overall lead to 1.2.
Ross fell just short of perfection on beam, closing out the third rotation at 9.975. Grace Glenn bookended an impressive team performance for UCLA, leading off with a career-high-tying 9.95. Flatley and Brielle Nguyen registered 9.85s, while Kocian and Ohashi added 9.825 scores.
The Bruins saved the best for last, with the 10s from Ross and Ohashi capping a memorable day. Tratz also shined on floor with a career-high 9.95 to match Hano’s career-high-tying leadoff performance. Kramer added a 9.925 for good measure.
Ohashi said the supercharged environment around the gymnastics team that has become the talk of college sports is something she will never forget.
“I tried to just stay in the present and enjoy everything and everyone who has come to see this,” Ohashi said. “Just knowing how much the crowd has grown in the past four years has been amazing.”
Ohashi’s victory lap was capped with a stop to conduct the UCLA Alumni Band in the school’s fight song. (MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS / Rafu Shimpo)
UCLA honored the career and lasting impact of “Miss Val” throughout the afternoon, with a plethora of gymnastics alumni in attendance. Over her 29 years at the helm, she has guided her teams to a record of 528-121-3 and all seven of its NCAA Championships. The four-time National Coach of the Year and Pac-12 Gymnastics Coach of the Century has also seen her teams rack up 14 conference and 19 NCAA Regional titles.
Taking the mic during the Senior Night ceremonies, Ohashi credited Kondos Field for raising the level of college gynastics as a whole, and for helping her rediscover the joy in the sport.