For 23 seconds on Friday night, Grace McCallum was perfect.
Competing inside Pauley Pavilion at UCLA, McCallum, the freshman Utah gymnast, wowed with a routine on uneven bars that earned her the first perfect 10 of her collegiate career.
Simone Biles noticed.
On Sunday, Biles — the near unquestioned greatest gymnast of all-time and McCallum’s teammate on the U.S. national team as recently as the Tokyo Olympics — quoted tweeted a video of McCallum’s routine and praised her former teammate.
McCallum has had an up-and-down start to her college career — she described it to the Deseret News as “a rollercoaster” — but the flashes of brilliance she has shown continue to engender excitement about her future.
“She is a freshman and we have to remember that,” Utah head coach Tom Farden said. “Yes she has the most international experience and medals of anyone who has been on this campus, but we also have to remember that she is a freshman.
“There is a curve to this, and she’ll get it. She loves this sport and loves being a gymnast at Utah, so I have full confidence that she’ll get there.”
McCallum wasn’t the only gymnast to be singled out by Biles on Sunday.
Over the weekend, all four American Olympians who competed in Tokyo this past summer and who are now competing in NCAA gymnastics earned the first perfect 10s of their careers.
- Jordan Chiles’ perfect routine came in the same competition as McCallum’s, only on floor exercise. A freshman at UCLA, Chiles won the all-around competition with her best performance of the season.
- Jade Carey, who has been arguably the best gymnast in all of the NCAA this season, was perfect on bars during Oregon State’s victory over Arizona State. Carey has yet to score below a 9.90 this year, and she has competed in the all-around in all four of the Beavers’ meets.
- Sunisa Lee was flawless on bars during Auburn’s competition at LSU. Auburn came up short in the meet, but the Tigers tied a program record with a team score of 197.750. Lee’s all-round performance earned her a 39.825, tied for the best score in college gymnastics this year alongside Carey and Minnesota’s Lexy Ramler.