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UCLA advances to the NCAA Championships
UCLA Advances to NCAA Gymnastics Championships
By: UCLA Athletics
Fayetteville, Ark. – UCLA advanced to the NCAA Championships after a second-place finish at the NCAA Fayetteville Regional on Saturday . The Bruins scored 196.6 to outscore host Arkansas, which scored 196.375. Utah placed first with 197.3. The NCAA Championships will take place in Birmingham, Ala. on Apr. 18-20.

UCLA started the meet on fire, recording a season-best 49.525 on floor exercise. Jennifer Pinches started the set with a 9.85, followed by a career-high-tying 9.9 from Danusia Francis. After Sadiqua Bynum's 9.775, it was a slew of 9.9+ scores from Samantha Peszek (9.925), Olivia Courtney (career-high-tying 9.95 that included a perfect 10 from one of the four judges), and Sydney Sawa (9.9).

After posting the highest first-event total, the Bruins took a 0.275 lead over Arkansas and Utah, which each posted 49.25 on their first events. The Bruins gave some of that lead back on vault, however, scoring 49.125 while Arkansas was scoring 49.375 on bars and Utah 49.2 on beam. The Bruins were led on vault by Courtney, who boomed a huge Yurchenko layout full with a small hop to score 9.9; Peszek, who also took a hop and scored 9.875; and Bynum, who had a near stick on her Yurchenko layout half to score 9.85.

With UCLA and Utah on byes in the fourth rotation, Arkansas lost some of their momentum, scoring just 48.475 on beam, with just one score above 9.75. This gave the two Pac-12 powers an opportunity on get breathing room on the host Razorbacks. Utah obliged by scoring 49.525 on floor, but the Bruins had to count a fall on bars, scoring 48.75 despite a 9.875 from Sophina DeJesus, a 9.9 career-high leadoff score by Francis and a 9.95 from Peszek that included a 10.0 from one of the judges. UCLA did, however, remain ahead of the Razorbacks by three-tenths, 147.400-147.100.

Hallie Mossett led off on beam in the final rotation needing to shake not only an illness but her fall on bars in the last rotation. She came through with a 9.7, leading the way to four-straight strong marks by DeJesus (9.875), Courtney (9.825), Peszek (9.95) and Francis (9.875) that gave UCLA a 49.2 after five routines, which was enough to stay ahead of Arkansas, which scored 49.275 on floor.

Peszek won the all-around with a 39.7 and also placed first on bars (9.95) and beam (9.95). Courtney placed third in the all-around with a 39.475 and tied for first on floor with her 9.95.

The Bruins will be competing in their eighth consecutive and 30th overall.

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