UCLA, Oklahoma, LSU & Michigan Celebrate Conference Titles


NCAA gymnasts across the country competed at conference championships this weekend, and in each conference there was a ton of talent to see. Here is a quick recap of the results of the Pac-12, Big Ten, SEC and Big 12 conferences. 

UCLA Wins Pac-12, Sets New Season High

UCLA defended its 2018 Pac-12 title by winning again and scoring an impressive season-high score of 198.400. The Bruins beat Utah by more than three-tenths of a point, with Utah scoring a 198.025, Oregon State taking third with a 196.600 and California placing fourth with a 196.575. 

The meet, which was hosted for the first time at a neutral location, was attended by 8,671 spectators. UCLA head coach Valorie Kondos Field, who after 29 years of coaching will retire following this season, won the Pac-12 Coach of the Year award. Kyla Ross (UCLA) took home Gymnast of the Year, Katelyn Ohashi (UCLA) won Specialist of the Year, and Milan Clausi (California) won Freshman of the Year. 

Ohashi changed her floor routine for this meet and still scored a perfect 10, her ninth on that event and 11th perfect score in her career overall. Ross hit her eighth meet in a row where she scored a perfect 10, this time getting one on both bars and floor. UCLA junior Felicia Hano tied for first on vault after matching her career high, a 9.950.

There were many other good scores from UCLA, including Margzetta Frazier leading the bars lineup with a 9.950, tying her career high, and Brielle Nguyen and Gracie Kramer hitting new career highs. Nguyen got a 9.900 on beam and Kramer scored a 9.950 on floor. 

Utah’s MyKayla Skinner got her first perfect 10 of the season on floor, marking her third-ever perfect score on that event. Skinner also led Utah’s bar lineup, tying her season-high score of 9.950. This routine led to Utah scoring a season-high bars score. All the individual event winners were from either UCLA or Utah. 

In the first session Arizona State took first with a 196.400, Washington took second with a 196.175, Stanford placed third with a 195.925 and Arizona took fourth with a 193.900. 

Michigan Claims 25th Big Ten Title

Michigan won the Big Ten Championships by almost a full point, scoring a 197.400 over Illinois’ 196.650. This makes 2019 Michigan’s 25th overall conference championship win and its sixth-consecutive victory. It also puts Bev Plocki, Michigan’s head coach, into history by leading her team to the most Big Ten conference titles across all sports, as this is her 24th conference win. 

Nebraska took third with a 196.550, Minnesota was close behind with a 196.425 and Penn State trailed with a 196.075. Iowa rounded out the meet in sixth place, scoring a 196.075. 

Minnesota also picked up two first-place event titles, with Emma McLean scoring a 9.900 to win vault and Natalie Wojcik taking the floor title after scoring a 9.950. Mary Jane Otto of Illinois won bars with an incredible 9.975 and Lexy Ramler took the beam title after a 9.925 on the event. In a surprising twist, three gymnasts—Natalie Wojcik and Olivia Karas of Michigan and Lexy Ramler of Minnesota—tied for first place all-around with a 39.600 score.

Ramler won another award in addition to all-around and beam, as she was named the Big Ten Gymnast of the Year. Natalie Wojcik was unanimously awarded Big Ten Freshman of the Year, as she has taken either Big Ten Freshman of the Week or Gymnast of the Week in nine out of 11 weeks this season. Jenny Hansen, head coach for Minnesota, earned Big Ten Coach of the Year, her second time winning that award.

A Three-Peat For LSU

The LSU Tigers celebrated a three-peat after taking first place this weekend at SEC Championships, as they were the two-time defending champions going into the meet. They beat out the Florida Gators for the No. 1 going into the meet, and came out as victors. 

LSU scored a 197.900, and the Gators were right behind in second with a 197.750. Alabama took third, scoring 197.350 and Georgia placed fourth with an even 197.000. The 0.150 of a point that separated LSU and Florida. The Gators last won the SEC Championship in 2016.

Sarah Finnegan (LSU) had an incredible day, winning the all-around, bars and tying for first on both beam and floor. She scored a 39.800 to win the all-around title, losing only two tenths the entire meet in deductions. A 9.950 won her the bars title and tied for first on beam, while she got a perfect 10 on floor. As the anchor spot on the final event of the meet, her perfect 10, which she has long waited for but not gotten, clinched the win for LSU. 

Trinity Thomas scored a 9.950 on vault to win the title on that event for Florida. Lexi Graber of Alabama and Megan Skaggs of Florida also scored perfect 10s on floor, tying with Finnegan for the title. On beam there was another three-way tie for first, as Rachel Gowey of Florida and Alyssa Baumann of Florida also scored 9.950s. 

In the first session of the day, Arkansas placed a tenth ahead of Auburn to take first with a 196.475, giving Auburn second place with a 196.375. Kentucky took third, scoring a 196.225, and a 195.900 gave Missouri fourth place. 

National No. 1 Oklahoma Tops Big 12

Oklahoma won the Big 12 Championship for the eighth year in a row. Scoring a 197.575, the Sooners came out on top, unsurprising to most as they are ranked No. 1 in the nation. Denver took second, scoring a 197.250, and took home the individual all-around title. Denver gymnast Maddie Karr was the first Denver gymnast to win this title, scoring a 39.600. Iowa State took third as a team, scoring a 195.950 and beating fourth-place West Virginia’s 195.600. 

Karr also placed on vault and bars, tying for both titles. Lynnzee Brown, also from Denver, shared the vault title with Karr after they both scored a 9.950, and Karr tied with Maggie Nichols (OU) on bars with a 9.950. Nichols took home the beam title, scoring a 9.950 on that event as well. Oklahoma freshman Olivia Trautman’s 9.975 won the floor title.

Trautman also won an annual award, receiving Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. Oklahoma took home three of four annual awards, with Brenna Dowell getting Gymnast of the Year and Jade Degouveia taking Event Specialist of the Year. Coach of the Year went to Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart from Denver.

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