Pac12 Chalk Chatter: Breaking down last week and previewing what’s ahead

It was another exciting week of gymnastics across the Pac-12 as seven of the eight teams are back in action, six of them taking the floor over the weekend. With the Pac-12 Gymnastics Championships just three and a half weeks away, programs are looking to take that next step as the competition will only continue to intensify. 

First, we’ll start off by breaking down the performances of the six programs who took the floor over the weekend before looking ahead at some of the newly added meets and what’s to come across the Pac-12 in the next few days. 

No. 3 Utah narrowly slides past No. 14 UCLA

It was an explosive night inside the Jon M. Huntsman Center on Friday night as the Bruins absolutely brought their A game to Salt Lake City. In an exciting battle broadcast live on ESPNU, the Utes were able to edge their way to a 197.225-197.100 victory. 

Utah started off the night with an explosive first event, capped-off with a 9.975 by senior Alexia Burch. With five scores of 9.8 or better, the Utes closed out vault with a team score of 49.300. The visiting Bruins got the night going on bars, where they had a phenomenal start of their own. Freshman Sarah Ulias posted a career-high 9.875, followed by a season-high 9.900 from senior Nia Dennis, to help the Bruins close out the first trailing the Utes by just .2 with a total of 49.100. 

UCLA kept things going on vault, where they also posted five vaults with a score of 9.8 or better. Junior Margzetta Frazier led the event for the Bruins with a 9.875, helping them post a 49.175 on the second event. Utah gripped up and got to work on bars, where they struggled a bit to find a rhythm on the event. Nonetheless, the Utes still managed to post a 49.225, led by a pair of 9.875s from sophomore Maile O’Keefe and junior Crystal Isa. 

Utah moved on to beam, where they had a couple hiccups on the night. Despite a fall from sophomore Abby Paulson in the anchor position, the Utes were still able to post a 49.225 on the event, thanks to a 9.875 from Isa and a 9.900 from O’Keefe. UCLA moved on to their strongest event, floor, where they’re known for their show stopping performances. Junior Sekai Wright posted a career-best 9.875, followed up with senior Pauline Tratz matching her season-high 9.9. Freshman Chae Campbell took her turn in the spotlight this week, where she led the team with a 9.950 and helped the Bruins post a 49.400. 

Finally, UCLA moved on to beam to close out the meet while the Utes looked to hold on to it’s narrow lead through the final six routines on floor. UCLA had a change to the lineup before beam, with Dennis being replaced due to what was said to be issues related to dehydration. Junior Samantha Satki, who has struggled on beam in recent weeks, hit a beautiful set for a 9.900 in the second line-up spot. Frazier followed up with a career-high 9.925 to help the Bruins score a 49.425. Utah stood strong against the challenge the Bruins were presenting as they went to the final event. The Utes posted a season-high 49.450 on floor, led by Paulson who posted a 9.9 and senior Syndey Soloski, who posted a 9.925. Soloski was able to hit when the pressure was turned all the way up, helping the Utes down the Bruins. 

Washington defeats Arizona for first win of the season

The GymDawgs walked away with their first victory of the season on the road against Arizona on Saturday. Despite a rally by the Wildcats, the Huskies were able to pounce on a narrow 194.125-193.975 victory. 

Arizona started Saturday afternoon’s event on vault, led by sophomore Malia Hargrove, who posted a 9.825 and helped the GymCats finish with a 48.775 on the event. The Huskies got things going on bars, with freshman Skyla Killough-Wilhelm and senior Geneva Thompson tying for the event title with 9.850s. Washington closed out the first event with a score of 48.950, ahead of Arizona. 

Washington brought the momentum with them to vault, where the Dawgs were able to post a 48.950, led by freshman Katie McNamara and junior Amara Cunningham. McNamara notched a career high 9.875 to nab the event title, while Cunningham followed closely behind with a 9.850 of her own. As the cats got to work on bars, they were able to tie their season-best for the event with a 48.900. Junior MacKenzie Kane posted her season-high 9.825 to lead the Wildcats, while sophomore Sirena Linton and freshman Bailey McCabe contributed with 9.8s of their own. 

It was a rough third event for both teams. The Wildcats struggled to hit routines, with freshman Jessica Castles being the only GymCat to post a solid score with a 9.825. The Wildcats only posted a 47.250 on the event, but it wasn’t so great of a rotation for the Huskies on floor, either, who only posted a 47.700. While McNamara posted a career-high 9.8 on the event, the Huskies only put five up to compete and were forced to count both a 9.3 and a 9.0. 

Killough-Wilhelm led the Huskies in scoring on the final rotation with a 9.825, good for a career-high and helping the GymDawgs secure a 48.525 on the final rotation of the afternoon. The cats went to their strongest event, the floor exercise, where they put up a great effort to try rallying back at the end. Four girls posted a score of 9.8 or above to help the Cats nab a 49.050. 

Unfortunately it wasn’t enough for the Wildcats, allowing the Huskies to take the W back home with them to Washington. 

Cal has one of program’s best performances to lift bears to victory over Oregon State

Cal put on a performance for the books on Sunday, posting their fourth-best score in program history to help the Bears defeat the Beavers on the road. Posting a 197.425, Cal looks to keep climbing in the rankings while Oregon State keeps looking to edge its way into the top-25 with a season-high 196.200. 

Oregon State started the meet out on Vault, where redshirt senior Lacy Dagan led the Beavers with a 9.900. Oregon state posted a 49.050, a solid start to the meet, but Cal came out hot from the start, posting a 49.550 to leave the Beavers in the dust early. The first five girls up all posted a 9.9 or better on the event, helping Cal post their second-best event score in program history, which is also good for the second-best performance by a squad on bars so far this season. Senior Nina Shank and junior Maya Bordas posted back to back 9.925s to win the event title. 

Shank kept the momentum going for the Bears on vault, opening up with a career-high 9.900. Cal had three other gymnasts with a score of 9.8 or better, not including senior Kyana George’s 9.925 to tie her career-high and help the Bears post a total of 49.350. Meanwhile for the Beavers, their 48.700 on bars was a big improvement from what they’ve posted in weeks past. Sophomore Kayla Bird led the rotation for the Beavers, posting a 9.850 on the event. 

As Oregon State moved on to beam, the Beavers’ strongest event. Junior Kristina Peterson opened things up with a beautiful routine for a 9.925. Oregon State hit six for six, capping the rotation off with another 9.925, this one from junior Madi Dagan. Meanwhile for Cal, George led the team in scoring on floor with a 9.900, and a pair of 9.875s from junior Grace Quinn and sophomore Maya Greene helped the Bears edge out the Beavers 49.250-49.150. 

Cal went to beam, where they suffered a fall early in the lineup from sophomore Nevaeh DeSouza. The Bears were able to recover well, with George posting a 9.925 and Greene a 9.90 to help close out the competition and post an event total of 49.275. Oregon State put up a solid performance on floor, highlighted with a 9.9 from bird and a 9.950 from senior Kaitlyn Yanish. The Beavers closed out the final rotation with a score of 49.300, making strong improvements from the beginning of the season. 

What’s next

*Note time zones when looking at events*

  • After both teams had their meet against Stanford cancelled, Arizona State announced the addition of a second rivalry meet against the University of Arizona, scheduled to take place Wednesday, Feb. 24 at 3 p.m. PT on the Pac-12 Plus livestream. 
  • Cal will travel to Utah where they’ll look to pull off an upset starting at 6 p.m. PT on the Pac-12 Network
  • Oregon State travels to UCLA on Saturday at 11 a.m. PT on the Pac-12 Network
  • Arizona State travels to Washington on Sunday for their second meet of the week at 2 p.m. PT and will be available to stream through Washington’s website. 
  • Arizona will travel to Colorado for a tri-meet with Air Force and Texas Woman’s University on Sunday at 1 p.m. PT

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