NCAA Championships: Energy & Tension

The best college gymnasts in the country, including several former olympians, competed at the NCAA national championships last weekend.  The energy in the arena was palpable.  The excitement and the roaring cheers only increased on the second night of competition when the six best teams took the floor to battle for the championship.

I oscillated between awe at being on the same floor as many gymnastics celebrities and concentration to capture the best of the meet.  I certainly admire the focus and hard work of collegiate gymnasts, and these athletes only increased my respect.

Before me, I sensed and saw a range of emotions.  The measured expectation as coaches watched their athletes warm up the skills they’d watched them do every day in the practice gym.  Elation as perfect tens were  raised on the score wands.  Tears held back as seniors realized their retirement from the sport they love.  I found a lump forming in my throat as I watched teams cheer for the individual competitors in their rotation as if they’d trained together all year.

And, as with any championship, the tension of one team watching their dreams coalesce in front of them while others steeled themselves against the disappointment of a goal out of grasp.

In the end, one gymnast with an incredible routine clinched the title, after her teammates delivered season-best routines.  Their win doesn’t diminish the impressive performances, from-the-gut cheers, and sister-like bonds of all the other gymnasts that performed last weekend.

The photos below are intended to capture the spirit and skill of all those that competed.  (p.s. do yourself a favor — watch the videos linked in the post!)


Hands are chalked, gymnasts are ready, NCAAs are about to begin.
Utah marches out amidst the pyrotechnics. Erika Muhaw takes in the experience.
Oklahoma’s Maggie Nichols prepares for her bar routine.
UCLA’s JaNay Honest looks to the bars with determination before a bar routine.
Florida’s Amelia Hundley performs a Shaposhnikova skill from the low to high bar.
UCLA’s Katelyn Ohashi performs her floor routine to Michael Jackson. It’s a treat to watch.
Oklahoma’s Brehanna Showers performs her floor routine with genuine excitement.
Alabama’s Shea Mahoney celebrates with her coach after a successful vault.
UCLA’s Peng Peng Lee performs her signature flair mount.
University of Minnesota’s Lexy Ramler is focused on floor.
UCLA’s Madison Kocian dismounts the balance beam in perfect form.
Florida’s Alicia Boren shows her excitement after nailing her vault.
Oklahoma’s AJ Jackson runs back to her team to celebrate a successful vault.
Oklahoma’s Maggie Nichols performs a Pak salto during her bar routine.
Florida’s Alex McMurtry sticks her dismount from the uneven bars.
UCLA’s Gracie Kramer looks to her team in excitement after finishing her floor routine.
Oklahoma’s Carly Woodard cheers with gusto as her teammate performs a floor routine.
LSU’s Mia Hambrick sports a confident look as she waits for the judges before her beam routine.
Oklahoma’s Maggie Nichols looks relaxed during an impressive leap during her beam routine.
UCLA’s Kyla Ross performs her beam choreography with emotion.
LSU celebrates a nailed vault in front of a roaring cheering section.
UCLA’s Peng Peng Lee celebrates a flawless bar routine, scoring a perfect ten.
Pen Peng celebrates her podium-topping beam finish with a group selfie.
UCLA celebrates their come-from-behind victory.
UCLA, 2018 national champions.
The arena quiets as the athletes depart and the confetti remains.


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  1. My favorites are JaNay Honest with the black background and puff of chalk and Peng at the end of her bar routine. Your mom and I saw you take the photo of the NCAA symbol by the chalk bucket. We were like, “Oh Marie is getting artsy!” Amazing shots!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Marie!! I love this post. These pictures are amazing and I love the detail, how you captured their emotions in the photos. I also like the confetti in the end. I watched the video of the floor routine and I liked how her teammates were doing her moves from their seats. This made me smile!

    I hope that you and Bill are well.

    Take care,


    Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Lori! I really appreciate it, and I’m glad you watched the video of the routine too. Bill & I are great. We hope you’re doing well too and enjoying your travels!


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