It was a dream season in more ways than one for the 2000 UCLA Gymnastics team. The Bruins started the season strong, with school-record performances in the beginning of the year, and ended the season unstoppable as Pac-10, Regional and NCAA Champions. In addition, the Bruins excelled in the classroom, recording a team grade point average of 3.5 during the competition season.
UCLA's dominance was on full display at the NCAA Championships. Despite a poor draw put that put the Bruins not only in the evening session at the NCAA Championships but on the balance beam in the first rotation, UCLA displayed nerves of steel. All six gymnasts hit their routines to give UCLA a 49.05 first-rotation score. From there, the Bruins cruised and ended up hitting 24 for 24 routines to take first place in their preliminary session with a score of 197.25, over a point better than second-place Nebraska.
The only drama on UCLA's side during the prelims was in the all-around competition. Mohini Bhardwaj, Heidi Moneymaker and Lena Degteva were in contention for the title the entire evening, and it came down to the final routine of the night. After Bhardwaj scored 9.875 on bars in the final rotation, she moved into a tie for first place with Michigan's Sarah Cain, with just Heather Brink of Nebraska left to compete. Needing a 9.925 to tie Bhardwaj and Cain, Brink instead scored a 9.95 on floor to take top all-around honors by herself. Bhardwaj finished in second, with Moneymaker fourth, Degteva fifth and freshman Kristin Parker 10th.
After the six teams qualified for the Super Six, another blind draw was done to determine rotation order. UCLA drew a start on floor, which meant ending on a bye after beam. But again, the Bruins performed like champions, taking the lead early and never relinquishing it.
While the Bruins were on a bye in rotation three, Alabama closed to within four-tenths of a point, and Nebraska pulled to within .425. Each Bruin routine would be critical. In UCLA's fourth rotation, bars, a 9.9 from Degteva and a 9.95 from Bhardwaj brought the Bruins a solid 49.35 team score and a three-event total of 148.175, seven-tenths ahead of second-place Utah.
So UCLA ended its meet on beam in rotation five. As the leadoff, Doni Thompson gave the Bruins just what they needed - a career-high 9.8. Parker followed with a 9.775, Jones recorded a 9.75, and Moneymaker provided a 9.85. After Degteva dismounted with a 9.825, UCLA knew it had done all it could do to win the title. Bhardwaj capped the meet with a 9.875 and gave UCLA a second consecutive 24 for 24 performance.
The Bruins spent the final rotation on a bye in the locker room and waited as the other schools tried to overtake their 197.3 final score. The closest competitors needed more than 49.725 to tie (9.945 average). None of the teams came close, and UCLA won its second national title.
"We worked so hard," said Degteva. "We didn't work on just staying on the apparatus, we worked on every little detail. We deserved it all the way."
During the event finals, the Bruins were not content with just their team trophy when there was more hardware to be won. Degteva and Bhardwaj went 1-2 on the balance beam, with Degteva becoming UCLA's second consecutive NCAA beam champion. After just missing out on the beam title, Bhardwaj came back to take first place on bars with a 9.95. Degteva placed third. Moneymaker placed fourth on vault, with Bhardwaj and Onnie Willis close behind in fifth, and on floor, Moneymaker placed fifth.
In addition, five Bruins earned a school-record 18 All-America honors. The coaching staff was honored as well, as assistant coach Randy Lane was named the National Assistant Coach of the Year, and Kondos was selected the Co-National Head Coach of the Year.