UCLA gymnastics is flying high

Selena Harris, the UCLA sophomore, scored her second consecutive perfect score on vault but it was still not enough to defeat Utah.

“It’s about time, that’s how I feel,” said Harris the Las Vegas native. “It feels great that like how I’m getting consistent with that so like can almost be an expectation.”

Harris, who is ranked No. 7 in the all-around in the country and No. 8 on vault, gave UCLA fans something to cheer for when she popped out a 10 on the vault exercise against the Utes. UCLA came into their meet against No. 4 Utah as the No. 8 gymnastics team in the nation.

UCLA gymnast Nya Reed is getting into a flow on the floor exercise. Photo credit: Carlos Jones/News4usonline

After their close defeat (197.300-196.975) to Utah on Feb. 19 at the Pauley Pavilion, the Bruins slipped to the No. 9 spot, according to Gymnastics Now and USA Gymnastics. The defeat to Utah on their home floor didn’t damper the excitement coming from the Bruins after their near upset of the Utes.

“This season has been amazing,” said Nya Reed the recent graduate transfer from the University of Florida. “During the five years doing gymnastics being here has been the most amazing experience and they welcomed me so much, I feel like a family.”

The Bruins will be hosting the California Golden Bears at the Pauley Pavilion on Sunday, Feb. 25 at 2 p.m. In the meantime, the team expressed that their training has been very relaxed and that they have been able to communicate well with each other.

“We are just so relaxed when we are training,” Harris said during the post-meet press conference. “I think the biggest thing which is really good is that we talk to each other so I think that was very helpful like just communicating with what we’re seeing with each other because we’re all doing the same vault.”

UCLA’s head coach Janelle McDonald has two decades of coaching experience.  She was tapped to lead the UCLA women’s gymnastics team in 2022. In her first season as head coach, McDonald guided the Bruins to a fifth-place finish at the NCAA gymnastics championships. UCLA placed as the runner-up to Utah in the Pac-12 Conference championship in 2023.

The Bruins entered this season as the No. 5 in the country in a preseason poll by USA Gymnastics.

“I’m really proud of what we accomplished last year, you know, I was excited to not just you know, in our competition results and how we finished the year getting back to Nationals and our final ranking,” McDonald said in a Zoom press conference on Feb. 7.

UCLA head coach Janelle McDonald goes over details with Margzetta Frazier against Utah on Feb. 19, 2024. Photo credit: Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

During her first season as the Bruins head coach, McDonald was named the 2023 Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association West Region Coach of the Year. The Bruins finished the season ranking No. 4 nationally.

Before joining the Bruins, McDonald helped coach the University of California and led the Golden Bears to their first-ever Pac-12 Conference regular season title in 2022. The Golden Bears finished seventh at the NCAA championships in 2021.

McDonald feels excited about this season saying that every year feels different.

“This season. It’s fun because every year feels a little bit different. But we have great energy on our team,” McDonald said about this season. “You know, a lot of our newcomers have brought this zest for life and for their sport and into the practices every single day. And it’s just created a really fun environment.”

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