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UCLA gymnastics’ Meet the Bruins intrasquad highlights high-energy team

Freshman Selena Harris points to her teammates during her floor routine. No. 10 UCLA gymnastics held its annual Meet the Bruins intrasquad at Pauley Pavilion on Thursday. (Jack Stenzel/Daily Bruin staff)

By Benjamin Royer

Dec. 16, 2022 4:03 p.m.

New beginnings, new coaches, new leotards and a fresh atmosphere.

No. 10 UCLA gymnastics’ annual Meet the Bruins intrasquad set the stage heading into the 2023 campaign, showcasing high-energy routines and togetherness at the forefront of the meet.

“The energy is definitely undeniable,” said redshirt senior Margzetta Frazier.

Frazier, freshman Selena Harris and sophomores Emily Lee and Jordan Chiles competed in the all-around Thursday night as first-year head coach Janelle McDonald spent the majority of the meet grinning from ear to ear.

“I feel like every school, in every sport, is going to go through an era of growth,” Frazier said. “And I’m excited to be a UCLA student – period. I felt like the energy here today was magical.”

Frazier – a three-time All-American who missed most of the 2022 campaign after fracturing her foot during the first meet – started off the night with a Yurchenko full on vault as the New Jersey native commenced her final season in Westwood.

On Aug. 15, the fifth-year Bruin announced her return for her super-senior season and is now the longest-tenured athlete on the roster.

“She (Frazier) puts her heart and soul into what she’s doing, and she leads by example every single day,” McDonald said. “I could not be more proud of where she’s at right now. I’ve watched her career for a long time, and I really feel like she’s doing the best gymnastics in college that she ever has. I’m very proud of her.”

(Megan Cai/Assistant Photo editor)
Redshirt senior Margzetta Frazier competes on beam. (Megan Cai/Assistant Photo editor)

On the other end of the experience spectrum, Harris and Lee competed for the first time in Pauley Pavilion.

Lee missed the entire 2022 season with a torn Achilles tendon – suffered at the U.S. Olympic trials in June 2021 – and returned Thursday to perform in front of the Westwood faithful.

Competing in the all-around, the three-time U.S. National Team member flexed the versatility she could bring to the Bruins’ rotations once the season begins on Jan. 7.

“I couldn’t really sleep well last night,” Lee said. “But once I just got out there, I knew the team had my back and they support me so much. They’re proud of me regardless of how I do. It just made everything so much more fun.”

Earning five out of five stars – the scoring system used by guest judges and UCLA alumnae Nia Dennis, Felicia Hano, Gracie Kramer and Vanessa Zamarripa – on vault, bars and beam, Harris debuted a sneak peek at what to expect from the No. 1 recruit in the class of 2022 as her collegiate career begins.

Harris also was one of seven gymnasts to wear new leotards for her floor routine. Based on television, film, characters and artists, the athletes worked with assistant coach BJ Das to craft routines that fit their new leotards and overall visions behind their performances.

The Las Vegas native’s leotard and routine were inspired by the late singer Selena Quintanilla. Harris also noted that she was honoring her mother and her Latina roots.

“I was so excited to show my mom my floor routine,” Harris said. “She’s sacrificed so much. I’ve grown up more on my Latina side, so I told BJ that I want to embrace this side more.”

Sophomore Brooklyn Moors debuted a floor routine based on HBO’s television series “Euphoria” and the character Maddy. Senior Chloe Lashbrooke based hers on the film franchise “Indiana Jones,” while Lee created hers by using Marvel’s “Shang-Chi” as inspiration.

Singer and dancer Paula Abdul inspired sophomore Emma Malabuyo, while junior Chae Campbell used Beyoncé and her most recent album “Renaissance” as the concept for her routine.

Frazier took a different route with her routine, using fashion designer David Koma’s “Spring 2022 Ready-to-Wear Collection” as inspiration. However, the Bruin who has now spanned three coaches in Westwood sees her new floor routine as a culmination of her collegiate career.

“There’s a lot of elements from every routine I’ve done at UCLA in this one, which is really cool,” Frazier said. “(There are) a few little easter eggs. I don’t know – I hate to say it, but I think I did my own legacy routine.”

UCLA has just over three weeks until it opens the season at the Super 16 event in Las Vegas.

McDonald said she views the time before her team opens the 2023 campaign as an opportunity to establish more focus in a competitive environment.

“I think we have a great foundation to build on,” McDonald said. “I think getting used to the format of competition and building our endurance up, to be able to handle the energy all the way through, is going to be something that we’re going to have to focus on to make sure we’re ready to go on all four events when we get to Vegas.”

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Benjamin Royer | Alumnus
Royer was the 2023-2024 Assistant Sports editor on the baseball, gymnastics and men's water polo beats and a reporter on the football beat. He was also a staff writer on the baseball, football and gymnastics beats in 2022-2023. He studied communication and graduated in 2024.
Royer was the 2023-2024 Assistant Sports editor on the baseball, gymnastics and men's water polo beats and a reporter on the football beat. He was also a staff writer on the baseball, football and gymnastics beats in 2022-2023. He studied communication and graduated in 2024.
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