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No. 11 UCLA gymnastics notches win over No. 15 Arizona in road-opener

Freshman Chae Campbell won her first all around in only her second career meet with UCLA gymnastics, leading the team to its first win of the season away from Pauley Pavilion. (Lauren Man/Assistant Photo editor)

gymnastics


No. 11 UCLA196.750
No. 15 Arizona 195.075

By Nico Edgar

Jan. 31, 2021 4:30 p.m.

This post was updated Jan. 31 at 10:25 p.m.

For the second time in as many weeks, the Bruins knocked off an Arizona school.

After a season-opening home victory against Arizona State last weekend, No. 11 UCLA gymnastics (2-0, 2-0 Pac-12) earned its first road win of the season, defeating No. 15 Arizona (0-2, 0-2) 196.750-195.075, winning all four rotations as well as the all around.

The Bruins got stronger as the meet went on, scoring higher on each successive event, culminating in a meet-high 49.300 on beam. Coach Chris Waller said he was proud of the way his team improved. 

“I’m so happy for the team,” Waller said. “The goal is to get better each week and each competition, and in our second meet we got a lot better everywhere. (Our players) were very intentional in their training leading up to (the meet) and brought the corrections we worked on into it.”

Despite a 9.600 for junior Margzetta Frazier to kick off the beam rotation, the Bruins registered a season-high event score and had three gymnasts eclipse a 9.900. Freshman Chae Campbell’s 9.925 on the beam led all but junior Samantha Sakti who scored a 9.950, topping her 9.900 performance last week against the Sun Devils.

Freshman Frida Esparza bounced back from a fall during her landing on bars to score a 9.900 on beam. 

Entering their second rotation tied at 48.975, the Bruins pulled ahead with the vault rotation where no gymnast scored less than a 9.800. The Bruins scored a 49.225 on vault following a 49.200 against the Sun Devils, both times using only five gymnasts as opposed to the typical six in its rotation.

Waller said UCLA is lacking depth at vault and will continue to roll out five gymnasts until his lineup gets healthy. 

“We are going to hold people back until we know they are ready to go and completely healthy,” Waller said. “We’re doing a great job on vault considering (our team) knows they’re counting on five people. There’s a lot of good energy and confidence (in our vault lineup) right now.”

In addition to her season-high beam score, Campbell led UCLA’s vault lineup, scoring a 9.900. The freshman scored a 39.425 in the all around, good for the win, and set season highs on bars, beam and vault, while adding a 9.85 on floor. 

Campbell named UCLA’s gymnast of the meet by the team’s coaches was quick to point out that her team’s results supersede any of her personal accolades.

“It’s amazing – I didn’t notice I won the all around until a little later,” Campbell said. “I just go out there and do what I can for the team, and I was proud to put out my best performances for the team. That’s all that matters to me.” 

In addition to Campbell’s continued emergence as a freshman, the Bruins had a veteran rebound from a difficult season opener. Senior Pauline Tratz recorded a 9.775 on bars and a 9.875 on floor following sub-9.700 scores on each event the week prior.

Tratz said she focused on improving and was happy to see results. 

“I know that my scores haven’t been the greatest,” Tratz said. “I was frustrated with myself and wanted to do better, so it was easy for me to focus on what I needed to do better. I’m really happy that it worked out so well.”

UCLA renowned for its dynamic floor routines tallied a 49.250, cracking above the 49.000 threshold for the first time this season. 

Frazier performed to the tune of 9.900 on floor for the second week in a row and recent viral sensation senior Nia Dennis anchored the Bruins’ lineup with a second consecutive 9.950. 

A two-time All-American on bars, Frazier scored a 39.225 in the all around, matching her score against the Sun Devils. 

When asked about what Frazier’s consistency means for a young Bruin squad, Waller said that her unselfishness has allowed her to flourish. 

“She’s always been a great performer,” Waller said. “But now, she’s stepping up selflessly for her team. She’s adjusted and made all the changes simply so she can go out and help her team by performing better. It’s been huge.”

Along with the high-scoring performances by Frazier and Dennis, the Bruins welcomed junior Sekai Wright back into the floor lineup after she missed last week’s meet. Wright scored a 9.500 in her season debut. 

With its second consecutive victory in the books, UCLA will look to a home meet versus No. 12 BYU on Feb. 10 before traveling to Seattle to face Washington on Feb. 14. 

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Nico Edgar | Sports staff
Edgar is currently a Sports staffer on the gymnastics beat. He was previously a contributor on the men's tennis beat.
Edgar is currently a Sports staffer on the gymnastics beat. He was previously a contributor on the men's tennis beat.
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