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UCLA gymnastics defeats BYU with season-high score on floor

Senior Nia Dennis competed in her first all-around of the season, winning three of her four events and tallying a score of 39.475. (Kanishka Mehra/Photo editor)

Gymnastics


No. 11 BYU196.275
No. 10 UCLA196.600

By Coral Smith

Feb. 10, 2021 5:33 p.m.

The Bruins finally broke through on floor.

No. 10 UCLA gymnastics (3-0, 2-0 Pac-12) took down No. 11 BYU (4-4, 4-1 MRGC) 196.600-196.325 Wednesday afternoon at Pauley Pavilion in the first of three meets – and only home meet – the Bruins will complete during a 10-day span. 

Ending the meet with four consecutive scores of 9.900 or higher on the floor, UCLA recorded its highest number on the rotation all season, a 49.425, a fourth of a point higher than its previous best. 

“Our floor lineup is coming together with performances from more and more people that are at the level we’re used to seeing, and just bringing that extra Bruin shine out there,” said coach Chris Waller. “There’s no doubt in their mind because they’re just committed to this big beautiful performance, and then the athletics just takes care of itself.”

Three Bruin gymnasts competed in the all-around, while the Cougars did not have any gymnasts participate in all four events.

It was senior Nia Dennis’ first all-around outing this season, after participating once last season. Dennis scored a 9.800 or higher in all four rotations, punctuated by a 9.925 on floor to end the meet and clinch the all-around title with a total of 39.475.

“It honestly felt so amazing, I really did miss doing bars after not doing it for so long, even though it’s my least favorite event. But I did miss it, and I had so much fun out there today,” Dennis said.

Dennis won three of her four events, tying with freshman Chae Campbell for the vault crown and junior Margzetta Frazier for the floor title. Both Campbell and Frazier also competed in the all-around Wednesday, scoring 39.375 and 39.000, respectively.

UCLA scored a 49.125 on uneven bars, the first time this season that the team has passed the 49.000 mark on that event. Three Bruins contributed scores of 9.850 or higher, including freshman Frida Esparza, who recovered from a fall on the apparatus last week to win the event with her second 9.900 of the season.

Frazier described the team’s steady improvement on the event throughout the season. 

“I would say the first competition, we were a little hesitant when it comes to handstands and doing dismounts, … so in practice, we’ve just been dialing in on going as big as we can,” Frazier said. “And then we bring that same confidence into the meet, and that’s what we did today.”

After collecting a 9.725 in an exhibition on the event last week versus Arizona, freshman Sara Ulias equaled that score in her official bars debut.

“Getting Sara Ulias in the bars lineup for real was huge, just a huge accomplishment for her,” Waller said. “She does not have a lot of high-level competitive experience, but she’s acting as if she’s been doing this for a long time.”

UCLA lost just one event in the meet, balance beam, as the team score dipped below 49.000 for the first time this season. Dennis led the team with a 9.900, but the Bruins were forced to count three scores of 9.775 or lower to total 48.950 after junior Samantha Sakti fell in the anchor position.

Next up, UCLA will travel to face Washington this weekend in Seattle for the Bruins’ second competition in five days.

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Coral Smith | Sports senior staff
Smith is currently a Sports senior staff writer on the gymnastics and softball beats. She was previously an assistant Sports editor for the softball, gymnastics, women's volleyball, swim & dive and rowing beats. Smith was previously a staff writer on the softball, women's volleyball, rowing and swim & dive beats.
Smith is currently a Sports senior staff writer on the gymnastics and softball beats. She was previously an assistant Sports editor for the softball, gymnastics, women's volleyball, swim & dive and rowing beats. Smith was previously a staff writer on the softball, women's volleyball, rowing and swim & dive beats.
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