UCLA wins NCAA Gymnastics Title with remarkable comeback

UCLA wins its seventh NCAA Gymnastics Title, 115 NCAA championship overall

“[My tears are] still dancing and having a party in my eyeballs. They have not come out yet, but I’m still in shock about the whole thing.”

Reread that sentence.

“[My tears are] still dancing and having a party in my eyeballs.”

Christine Peng-Peng Lee could not have said it better.

That’s right. A party. In her eyeballs.

In a year when sports dynasties have been falling left and right in the final moments of their seasons, it’s only fitting that the NCAA Gymnastics Title came down to a similar situation: the two-time defending champions, Oklahoma, sitting in the driver’s seat with an underdog, UCLA, heading into the final event on an apparatus just four inches wide biting at their heels to get a taste of glory.

Oklahoma held a .175 lead over UCLA heading into the sixth and final rotation, the balance beam. In other words, the slimmest of margins on the slimmest of platforms.

That’s where the fireworks happened.

With three of the first four UCLA gymnasts scoring 9.875 or higher,  the Bruins were able to compare scores with the Sooners. After Oklahoma scored a 49.5375 on the uneven bars, UCLA knew that while it would be difficult, strong showings from their final two routines would give them the hardware.

Kyla Ross went first, scoring a 9.9875, which left the door wide open for her teammate, Lee, who was competing in her final competition.

Having already scored a perfect 10 on the uneven bars in the rotation before, Lee knew all that was needed to overtake the Sooners was a score of 9.975.

That wasn’t good enough.

The veteran let out a routine for the ages and scored another perfect 10, the second time this season she has achieved that feat twice in the same competition, setting a new NCAA Championship record team score of 49.75 on the balance beam and winning UCLA’s seventh NCAA Gymnastics Title.

“I’m shocked I’m here, shocked we have the trophy, and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end with this team,” Lee said as the tears partied in her eyeballs. “Personally, I love this team so much and it’s been an incredible season.”

The Bruins bested the reigning champion Sooners by 0.0375 points.

With the win, UCLA now has 115 overall NCAA championships.