UCLA freshmen Madison Kocian and Kyla Ross became the first U.S. Olympic female champions to compete in NCAA gymnastics on Saturday.
Kocian earned Rio gold in the team event and silver on uneven bars. Ross was part of the London Olympic champion team.
On Saturday, Kocian won the all-around (though only four gymnasts did all four events total) in a UCLA dual meet with Arkansas. Kocian and Ross were part of a three-way tie for the top uneven bars score.
UCLA coach Valorie Kondos Field said the Pauley Pavilion crowd of 6,513 was the largest for the first meet of a season in program history.
Those watching included fellow Olympians Simone Biles and Danell Leyva, plus 2012 Olympic champion Jordyn Wieber, who is now a UCLA volunteer assistant coach.
Biles committed to compete for UCLA back in 2014, delaying her enrollment until after the Olympics, but then turned pro in 2015, giving up her NCAA eligibility.
No other U.S. Olympic gold-medal-winning female gymnasts competed collegiately, largely because most reached the Olympics before college and then turned professional, forfeiting NCAA eligibility.
Every member of the Magnificent Seven turned pro. As did 2004 Olympic champion Carly Patterson and 2008 Olympic champions Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson and every other member of the 2012 and 2016 U.S. Olympic women’s teams.
Many 2000, 2004 and 2008 U.S. Olympic female gymnasts who earned silver and bronze medals competed collegiately, some before earning their medals and some after.
Several men’s gold medalists competed collegiately before winning Olympic titles, most recently Barcelona 1992 high bar champion Trent Dimas.Follow @nzaccardi