LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Utah State’s gymnastics team concluded the regular season by scoring a 194.850 against No. 2 UCLA on Saturday at Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom.
The host Bruins (12-1) won the non-conference dual meet with a 197.575. An announced crowd of 12,270 was on hand to bid UCLA head coach Valorie Kondos Field, often referred to as Miss Val, and the senior class a farewell. Kondos Field is retiring at the end of the season.
“It was a real special experience to share the floor with Miss Val as a head coach and for it to be her last meet at Pauley,” said second-year USU head coach Amy Smith, who competed for and coached under Kondos Field at UCLA. “I wouldn’t be coaching if it weren’t for her. She literally was the one that said, ‘You need to get into college coaching.’ To be on the floor with her in her last home meet with my team was incredible. I am so thrilled that we got to share that with her, and with everybody else that was here today.”
Senior Madison Ward-Sessions won the all-around for the Aggies (5-10), scoring a 39.275, including a 9.925 on floor to tie for fifth. Sophomore Leighton Varnadore placed second in the all-around with a 39.050.
For Ward-Sessions, it was her 37th career title, which ranks sixth all-time in school history. Furthermore, it was her 15th title as a senior, which is fourth all-time in class history.
“I wasn’t really worried about everything that was happening around us,” Ward-Sessions said. “Miss Val is a huge influence in the gymnastics community and in the world. I knew it was going to be a special meet for UCLA, but I tried to not think about it, relax, have fun with my team and enjoy the moment with them. The crowd was so amazing. They were very respectful and love gymnastics, too. It was really cool to hear them cheering for us and for them.”
UCLA’s Kyla Ross placed third in the all-around with a 38.775, but she fell on her first two events of the night, vault and bars. Despite that, Ross completed the “Gym Slam” with her first-career perfect 10 on floor, setting the school record with a 10 in her seventh straight competition.
“At the beginning of the meet, both teams didn’t quite settle in,” Smith said. “I think emotions were running high. There were a lot of expectations on this meet, but we worked through it as a team.”
Starting on bars, Utah State scored a 48.525, led by Ward-Sessions and junior MaKayla Bullitt, who each had a 9.825 to tie for fifth.
On vault in the second rotation, the Aggies notched a 48.575. Ward-Sessions and Varnadore tied for third with matching 9.825s. At the midway point of the meet, the Bruins led the Aggies 98.300-97.100.
Utah State’s strongest event of the night was floor, where the team scored a 49.000. After Ward-Sessions, sophomore Autumn DeHarde had a 9.875 to place seventh, while Varnadore finished ninth with a 9.825.
The Aggies closed the meet on beam and only had five people competing after freshman Grace Rojas was pulled at the last minute due to injury. Despite that, USU tallied a 48.750, highlighted by a 9.825 from DeHarde to tie for fifth.
“Floor did a great job and then unfortunately, we had to pull Grace out of the beam lineup at the last second, which only left us with five up,” Smith said. “To do what the beam team did under that amount of pressure, in front of that many people, with UCLA’s Katelyn Ohashi going on the floor and the crowd going nuts, and for them to hold their composure and deliver like that was beyond impressive. I am incredibly proud of them.”
Utah State will join in-state rivals BYU and Southern Utah, along with Boise State, in Provo, Utah, for the MRGC Championships on Friday, March 22, at the Marriott Center. The meet is set to begin at 6 p.m.
Fans can follow the Aggie gymnastics program at twitter.com/USUGymnastics, on Facebook at Utah State Gymnastics, and on Instagram at USUGymnastics. Fans can also follow the USU athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on Facebook at UtahStateAthletics.
Utah State at No. 2 UCLA – Los Angeles, Calif. – Pauley Pavilion – March 16, 2019
Team Results: 1. UCLA – 197.575 (vault: 49.100, bars: 49.200, beam: 49.450, floor: 49.825); 2. Utah State – 194.850 (vault: 48.575, bars: 48.525, beam: 48.750, floor: 49.000).
Vault: 1. Felicia Hano – UCLA, 9.950; 2. Nia Dennis – UCLA, 9.850; T3. Pauline Tratz – UCLA, 9.825; T3. Leighton Varnadore – USU, 9.825; T3. Madison Ward-Sessions – USU, 9.825; 8. Logan Varnadore – USU, 9.675; T9. Autumn DeHarde – USU, 9.625; T9. Grace Rojas – USU, 9.625; 11. Elle Golison – USU, 9.325.
Bars: T1. Nia Dennis – UCLA, 9.950; T1. Madison Kocian – UCLA, 9.950; 3. Norah Flatley – UCLA, 9.925; T5. MaKayla Bullitt – USU, 9.825; T5. Madison Ward-Sessions – USU, 9.825; T7. Leighton Varnadore – USU, 9.700; T7. Annie Beck – USU, 9.700; T9. Madi Tueller – USU, 9.475; 12. Grace Rojas – USU, 9.325.
Beam: 1. Kyla Ross – UCLA, 9.975; 2. Grace Glenn – UCLA, 9.950; T3. Brielle Nguyen – UCLA, 9.850; T3. Norah Flatley – UCLA, 9.850; T5. Autumn DeHarde – USU, 9.825; 8. Emily Briones – USU, 9.825; 9. Annie Beck – USU, 9.750; T10. Leighton Varnadore – USU, 9.700; T10. Madison Ward-Sessions – USU, 9.700.
Floor: T1. Kyla Ross – UCLA, 10.000; T1. Katelyn Ohashi – UCLA, 10.000; T3. Pauline Tratz – UCLA, 9.950; T3. Felicia Hano – UCLA, 9.950; T5. Madison Ward-Sessions – USU, 9.925; 7. Autumn DeHarde – USU, 9.875; 9. Leighton Varnadore – USU, 9.825; 10. Elle Golison – USU, 9.700; 11. Emily Briones – USU, 9.675; 12. Faith Leary – USU, 9.650.
All-Around: 1. Madison Ward-Sessions – USU, 39.275 (vault: 9.825, bars: 9.825, beam: 9.700, floor: 9.925); 2. Leighton Varnadore – USU, 39.050 (vault: 9.825, bars: 9.700, beam: 9.700, floor: 9.825); 3. Kyla Ross – UCLA, 38.775 (vault: 9.325, bars: 9.475, beam: 9.975, floor: 10.000).