Fort Worth, Texas -
A sub-par first rotation put UCLA in a big hole, and the Bruins were unable to recover, finishing sixth in the first semifinal session of the NCAA Gymnastics Championships with a score of 196.400. Advancing to the Super Six Team Finals were Utah and Florida, which tied for first with 197.475, and Stanford, which placed third with 197.175. Michigan was fourth with a 197.025, and Georgia was fifth with 196.600.
UCLA senior Samantha Peszek ended the session tied for first in the all-around with Florida's Kytra Hunter with a score of 39.600. The duo will wait for the second semifinal tonight to see if their score holds up for the all-around title.
UCLA dug itself a hole right away in the first rotation, with two out-of-bounds deductions and just two clean routines on floor exercise, from Danusia Francis (9.85) and Peszek (9.9). The Bruins scored just 48.950, breaking a streak of 36 consecutive scores of 49+ across all events.
The Bruins were hurt by short landings on vault in the next rotation, with only two Bruins - Peszek and Jordan Williams - sticking their landings. Peszek and Williams each scored 9.9 on their vaults, and the next-highest score was 9.775 by Christine Peng-Peng Lee.
After sitting through a bye, the Bruins picked things up on uneven bars, scoring 49.25 on the strength of a pair of 9.9s from Peszek and Lee. Hallie Mossett contributed a 9.85, and Francis, Sonya Meraz and Sophina DeJesus all scored 9.8.
Balance beam was a stick-fest for the Bruins, who totaled 49.200 and stuck every dismount. Meraz led off with a 9.75, followed by a 9.775 by Mikaela Gerber. DeJesus had no wobbles and landed everything dead on but scored 9.8. UCLA triple beam threat of Francis, Lee and Peszek went 9.85, 9.875 and 9.9, respectively, with Peszek's tying for the highest score of the session.
Peszek will compete on beam and floor at Sunday's individual event finals. She will end her storied career on Sunday as a 17-time All-American after earning first-team All-America honors today in the all-around, beam and floor and second-team honors on vault and bars. Also receiving All-America status were second-teamers Williams on vault and Lee on bars and beam.