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UCLA Wins NCAAs In Dramatic Flair
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

BY TRAVIS SEEFRIED

ST. LOUIS—UCLA captured its 7th NCAA title in an exciting, dramatic competition that came down to the final balance beam routine of Peng-Peng Lee's illustrious collegiate career. After scoring a perfect 10 on bars in rotation 5, Lee closed the meet with a second 10 on beam to clinch the title over two-time defending champion, Oklahoma by just 0.0375 (198.075 to 198.0375).

The Bruins began their night on floor that was highlighted by Katelyn Ohashi's 9.95 for her Michael Jackson inspired routine. After moving to vault, UCLA recorded its lowest score of the night, with all six gymnasts scoring in the 9.8 range. Most teams would not have been able to bounce back. Then again, UCLA is not like most teams.

The Bruins came back on bars with the highest team score of the night (49.6375) highlighted by Kyla Ross's 9.95 and Lee's  perfect 10. UCLA kept the momentum going into their final event, the beam. Despite a fall early in the lineup from Madison Kocian, the Bruins put on a beam clinic to record the highest event total of the night (49.75) and win their first team title since 2010.

Defending champion Oklahoma finished second with a consistent, if not spectacular competition. After posting a  low (for them) 49.425 beam total, the Sooners posted the highest team totals on floor exercise and vault. Even an outstanding bar rotation (second to UCLA) wasn't enough to secure the hat trick Oklahoma was expected by so many to achieve. Still, it was the closest team final in the history of the Super Six finals.

Florida, like Oklahoma, had a great competition as well with every counting score a 9.80 or higher. One has to wonder what would have happened if the Gators had not lost senior Kennedy Baker to an injury (Achilles) in late February. It was great to see the Gators come together and rally as a team and win third place (197.85), just 0.225 from first.

LSU finished in fourth (197.835), just out of the medals and 0.0125 from third place.  Floor was the highest scoring event for the Tigers (49.5125) with Sarah Finnegan and Myia Hambrick pitching in a pair of 9.95s.

Utah and Nebraska rounded out the field with a 196.90 and a 196.80, respectively. Neither team never really had a chance to challenge the top four teams but showed an incredible display of great gymnastics. Utah's best event was beam (49.35), while Nebraska rocked floor with their highest score of the evening (49.40).

Read complete cover of the men's and women's NCAA Championships in the May issue of International Gymnast.

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