UCLA gymnastics ties Oregon State in home opener following late score inquiry
LOS ANGELES — The scoreboard at Pauley Pavilion had gone blank heading into the final event of UCLA gymnastics’ home opener on Sunday afternoon.
“Going into our last couple of events, we didn’t really know where we were at or what we needed (to win) or anything like that,” coach Janelle McDonald said.
The meet was close headed into the final event, particularly in the all around, with Oregon State’s Jade Carey leading UCLA’s Jordan Chiles by .125. And being motivated by scores was out of the question.
Carey came up with a 9.925 on balance beam to edge Chiles, 39.775-39.700, for the all-around crown.
“I don’t see it as a competition,” said Chiles, who had lost her voice during the meet. “I see it as my friend going after what she loves. I don’t do all around just to win, I do all around because I love it.”
They both competed for Team USA at the 2020 Olympics and the 2022 World Championships and exchanged high-fives throughout Sunday’s meet. Chiles even told Carey she loved her at one point.
“They’re not only two of the best athletes in the NCAA, they’re two of the best athletes in the world,” McDonald said. “It’s pretty special to see that caliber of athletes, especially in the same room together.
UCLA was initially named the winning team in front of a packed Pauley Pavilion but ended up tying with Oregon State at 197.275 after a late score inquiry. The Bruins won every event except for balance beam, in which the Beavers outscored them 49.400-48.800.
It’s the second time this season that UCLA dipped below 49.00 in beam and it’s the lowest score of the season in that event. Chae Campbell had a fall that resulted in an 8.825, but sophomore Emily Lee’s leadoff 9.900 gave the Bruins a boost.
Lee didn’t compete her freshman season because of an Achilles tendon surgery. On Sunday, she was in the leadoff spot in both beam and floor exercise (9.850) and also competed in vault (9.825).
“Me and Janelle have really been working on intention in everything I do,” Lee said. “The staff can put me in any spot and I’ll do my best to hit it no matter what.”
Both Carey and Chiles nearly reached a 10.0 in floor exercise, earning a perfect score from one judge and a 9.950 from the other. The duo tied for first and were followed by UCLA freshman Selena Harris (9.925).
Chiles also earned a 10.0 from one judge in uneven bars to win the event with a 9.975 score. Carey and Harris tied for second at 9.925.
The Beavers used a 49.200 team score in vault to keep up with the Bruins at meet’s halfway mark. Carey won first (9.950) and teammate Sydney Gonzales tied with UCLA’s Harris and Chae Campbell for second. No Bruin hit below 9.825 in the event.
UCLA set a record for attendance at a home opener with 7,702 as rainbow and progress pride flags dotted the backdrop of Pauley Pavilion in honor of the specially-planned Equity Meet.
Gymnasts from both schools wore leotards with nearly every color of the rainbow, and the Beavers’ leos featured the progress pride flag on the left shoulder.
“It’s not about the flags, it’s not about the sport, it’s not about the leos we wear,” Chiles said. “It’s about the people that go into who they want to be as a person. We welcome everybody.”
UCLA has a short turnaround and has the chance to get back into the win column with a meet at rival Utah on Friday. They’ll head back home on Feb. against Arizona State, hopefully with a fully-functioning scoreboard this time.
“It’s just a day in the life and part of the process,” McDonald said. “At the end of the day, we did what we could. We came out with great energy and we performed well and I’m really proud of the team.”