UCLA gymnastics harnesses the crowd energy of Pauley Pavilion to reach season-high score

LOS ANGELES — The UCLA gymnastics team harnessed the energy of Pauley Pavilion’s enthusiastic crowd in its Pac-12 opener on Saturday to record season-bests in all four events and beat Washington 197.825-196.300.

The milestone night comes after three quad meets in which the Bruins finished third in each one.

“We were tired of losing,” Selena Harris told reporters after the meet.

Harris, a sophomore, won the all-around in her second season of competing in all events. She won uneven parallel bars (9.9), tied for second in vault (9.9), tied for second in balance beam (9.9) and tied for second in floor exercise (9.925).

She’s more seasoned in her second year as an all-arounder and has learned how to better manager the physical challenge of competing in so many events every weekend and sustain her energy throughout the day. A Reese’s peanut butter cup helped give her a boost for floor routine on Saturday

“I think I’ve just learned how to control my adrenaline,” Harris said. “I wasn’t used to hydrating and eating in the middle of the competition. Coming here, they taught us how to control adrenaline so that it can last until the end.”

The Bruins scored 49.400 to tie their season-best in vault and three gymnasts recorded a score of 9.9 or higher in Harris, Katelyn Rosen and Chae Campbell, who led the group with a 9.95 from both judges.

Campbell won the vault event and tied for first in floor exercise. She scored a 10.0 from one judge for her Black Panther-themed floor routine as confetti from the crowd rained in the background. It potentially foreshadowed what could be a perfect 10.0 for her later in the season.

“We can’t control the scores,” Campbell said. “I was just proud of the progress that this team made. Floor is a good event for us, but I saw a lot of improvement in the last couple weeks. Just keep doing what we’re doing and the time will come (for a 10.0).”

UCLA’s bars result came out to a 49.300 — a dramatic improvement from the 48.600 scored in a quad meet in the previous week.

Alex Irvine recorded a fall, but Rosen came up with a 9.875 immediately after to get the Bruins back on track. Rosen, a freshman, showed resiliency not just in uneven bars but also on floor when she stepped out of bounds and continued to compete unfazed.

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The error on floor gave her a 39.250 in her Pac-12 freshman debut in the all-around, but the day showed her potential.

“Katelyn in the gym is just so consistent,” coach Janelle McDonald said. “Just in her energy, the attitude, the effort is just consistent day in and day out. Even when there’s mistakes around her, she just focuses on the job.”

UCLA claimed the top five spots in floor exercise with four gymnasts scoring 9.9 or above for a season-best 49.625 team score.

The Bruins can take advantage of the Pauley Pavilion crowd for a second straight week when they host Arizona at 2 p.m. on Feb. 4.

“We’re a naturally gifted team,” Campbell said. “We don’t have a gymnastics problem. So it’s just finding that niche that we need for this dynamic that we have this year with this team.”

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