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UCLA gymnastics: Looking back at a memorable 2019 season

As she nears graduation, UCLA gymnast Katelyn Ohashi reflects on finding joy in her performances and how coach Valorie Kondos Field’s innovative routines helped transform the sport. (Video by Claire Hannah Collins). 

The gymnastics season for UCLA ended a week ago, with a third-place finish at the NCAA championships in Fort Worth.

It wasn’t the result the Bruins were hoping for as they sent coach Valorie Kondos Field into retirement, but it’s hard to think of the team’s season as anything but a success.

Gymnastics meets at Pauley Pavilion drew crowds larger than that of the men’s basketball team, and the squad’s social media following grew to become the largest of any in women’s college sports.

Bruins gymnasts recorded 21 scores of 10.0, with Kyla Ross recording a perfect score in an NCAA-record 10 consecutive meets. She was also the first college gymnast to record a “Double Gym Slam” in a single season – recording a perfect score in every discipline, twice.

Katelyn Ohashi performed a floor exercise during a meet in January that received 117 million views on YouTube, making it the most-watched sports video of the year.

Through it all, Los Angeles Times photojournalist Wally Skalij spent many hours with the team.

UCLA gymnast Madison Kocian warms-up before the NCAA Championship in Fort Worth, Texas.
UCLA gymnast Kendall Poston has her foot taped outside the locker room before the Pac-12 Championships in Salt Lake City.
UCLA gymnast Macy Toronjo jumps rope while warming up before the PAC-12 Championships in Salt Lake City.
Clockwise from top: UCLA gymnast Madison Kocian warms up before the NCAA Championship in Fort Worth. Macy Toronjo jumps rope while warming up before the Pac-12 Championships in Salt Lake City. Kendall Poston has her foot taped outside the locker room before the Pac-12 Championships. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
UCLA's Norah Flatly competes on the uneven bars during a meet at Pauley Pavilion.
UCLA's Norah Flatley competes on the uneven bars during a meet at Pauley Pavilion. Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times
UCLA gymnast Kyla Ross competes on the beam at Pauley Pavilion.
Kyla Ross competes on the beam for UCLA at Pauley Pavilion. Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times
UCLA gymnast  Pauline Tratz climbs a rope during a workout on the UCLA campus.
UCLA's Pauline Tratz climbs a rope during a workout on the UCLA campus. Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times
UCLA gymnast Mercedez Sanchez warms-up on the beam during a recent meet at Pauley Pavilion.
Team member Mercedez Sanchez warms up on the beam during a recent meet at Pauley Pavilion. Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times
UCLA gymnasts prepare before the PAC-12 Championships in Salt Lake City.
UCLA gymnasts prepare before the PAC-12 Championships in Salt Lake City. Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times
A UCLA gymnast works out on the UCLA campus.
A gymnast works out on the UCLA campus. Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times
Gymnasts gather before practice at UCLA.
Gymnasts gather before practice at UCLA. Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times
UCLA's Katelyn Ohashi completes her floor routine as teammates cheer her on during NCAA semifinals in Fort Worth.
Katelyn Ohashi completes her floor routine as teammates cheer her on during NCAA semifinals in Fort Worth. Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times
UCLA head coach Valorie Kondos Field wipes the beam before competition during a recent meet at Pauley Pavilion.
Coach Valorie Kondos Field wipes the beam before competition during a recent meet at Pauley Pavilion. Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times
UCLA coach Valorie Kondos Field seems surprised at her named is unveiled on the floor during a dedication ceremony at Pauley Pavilion.
UCLA coach Valorie Kondos Field feels the emotion at the unveiling of a Pauley Pavilion floor named in her honor. Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times
Coach Valorie Kondos Field, second from right, hugs her gymnasts from left, Gracie Kramer, Anna Glenn, Margzetta frazier and team manager Lila Waller.
Valorie Kondos Field, second from right, hugs gymnasts, from left, Gracie Kramer, Anna Glenn, Margzetta Frazier and team manager Lila Waller after finishing third in the NCAA championships. Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

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