Madison Kocian, Kyla Ross make history, help No. 4 UCLA past No. 17 Arkansas

Fourth-ranked UCLA opened up its season with a win over No. 17 Arkansas, 195.700 to 195.350. The Bruins came out strong on their opening two events, vault and uneven bars, but had some struggles on balance beam and floor exercise.

Madison Kocian, who won silver on the uneven bars at the Olympics this summer, won the all-around in her collegiate debut with a 39.425.

Making History

As the NCAA gymnastics season neared, UCLA was one of the most talked about squads. The Bruins are a perennial contender and have won six NCAA championships. The last title came in 2010. UCLA boasts a pair of Olympic gold medalists on the competition floor in Kyla Ross (2012) and Kocian (2016).

When Ross and Kocian stepped onto the mat Saturday night, they became the first two Olympic gold medalists to compete in collegiate gymnastics. Kocian may have only competed bars in Rio, but she competed a fun, sassy floor routine during her first competition at Pauley Pavillion.

Ross, known for her elegant lines and great consistency, competed on vault, bars and beam.

During the nerve-wracking UCLA beam rotation, Ross looked like she was just having fun,

[More from Excelle Sports: WATCH: Maggie Nichols nails uneven bars routine in Oklahoma debut]

Fly high and stick the landing

Arkansas’ Amanda Wellick and UCLA’s Madison Preston tied for the vault title as each athlete soared to a 9.9 on her full-twisting Yurchenko:

Save(s) of the night

The Bruins beam struggles would have been far worse had it not been for two tremendous saves.

First, senior Peng-Peng Lee managed to (somehow) stay on during her back handspring, layout series:

Then sophomore Katelyn Ohashi closed out the rotation for the Bruins and had some heroics of her own:

[More from Excelle Sports: No. 2 LSU defeates No. 9 Georgia in season opener]

Come back kids

The Razorbacks trailed after the first two rotations on vault and uneven bars by eighth tenths of a point. Arkansas battled back on its final two rotations led by senior Amanda Wellick. The Razorbacks put up a 48.750 on floor exercise and a 48.900 on balance beam. They outscored the Bruins by 0.450 in the second half of the competition. And, with UCLA being forced to count a fall on floor, Arkansas led the meet entering the final Bruins routine.

Wellick finished second in the all-around behind Kocian with a 39.300.

Bonus (gold) sighting:

Simone Biles joined her former teammates Ross (left) and Kocian on the floor with 1996 Olympic champion Amanda Borden (right).

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