Madison Kocian, Kyla Ross Make History In NCAA Debuts

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UCLA freshmen Madison Kocian and Kyla Ross made history on Saturday evening as they became the first Olympic gold medalists to compete in NCAA gymnastics. Kocian joined the UCLA Bruins fresh off her success at the Rio Games, where she helped the United States team win the team gold medal, in addition to securing the silver medal for herself on uneven bars. Kocian also has a number of world medals to her name -- two team golds and an individual gold on bars.

Ross has enjoyed similar success, contributing to Team USA at the 2012 London Olympics and securing the team gold. Ross also has five world medals: a team gold, silvers in the all-around, uneven bars, and balance beam, and a bronze in the all-around.

Kocian competed in the all-around in the Bruins' season opener against Arkansas in Los Angeles on Saturday, while Ross contributed on vault, bars, and beam. Both gymnasts competed Yurchenko fulls on vault to start off the meet, with Ross scoring the second highest for the team with an impressive 9.875. Ross has also been training an Omelianchik on vault. Check out a video of her training from December:

Moving on to uneven bars, Ross and Kocian tied for the highest score of the meet on this event (along with teammate Peng Peng Lee) with a 9.875. Both gymnasts displayed high difficulty and beautiful execution in their debut routines. Kocian anchored on the event for the Bruins and added another high score to her all-around total. Check out a video of Kocian on bars from December training:

Despite a few wobbles on balance beam from the Bruins' lineup, Kocian and Ross managed to pull out solid routines. Kocian tied teammate Mikaela Geber for the highest score on the event with a 9.85. She hit all of her major combinations, including a front aerial to sheep jump and back handspring to layout step-out. Ross, known for her work on balance beam, showed the same control that we're used to seeing from her. Similar in composition to Kocian's routine, Ross hit her back handspring, layout step-out series and front aerial to sheep jump combination. She scored only a 9.7 on the routine due to a missing dance series requirement, but this routine will likely be a high scoring one for the Bruins in meets to come. 

UCLA ended its meet on floor, where Kocian once again tied for the highest score on the event with a 9.875, securing her all-around victory as well. Check out the video below of her sassy routine from December training:

Kocian and Ross had impressive performances for their first college competition, transitioning seamlessly from elite to NCAA and proving that they will be important contributors for UCLA going forward.

What College Coaches Look For Other Than Gymnastics

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports 2017 Pac-12 Championship

By Kristine Comforte

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