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UCLA gymnastics prepares for 2023 season debut at the Super 16

Redshirt senior Margzetta Frazier poses on beam. Frazier and No. 10 UCLA gymnastics will open its season at the Super 16 in Las Vegas on Saturday. (Megan Cai/Assistant Photo editor)


Super 16
Saturday, 6 p.m.

Orleans Arena
Big Ten Network

By Benjamin Royer

Jan. 6, 2023 1:13 p.m.

The Bruins are set to begin their season with a road trip for a first-of-its-kind 16-program meet.

No. 10 UCLA gymnastics will launch its 2023 campaign in Las Vegas on Saturday in the fourth and final session of the Super 16, an inaugural regular-season invitational hosted at the Orleans Arena. Competing alongside No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 4 Michigan and No. 5 Auburn, the blue and gold is returning to action with coach Janelle McDonald taking charge for her first competitive meet.

Fisk, North Carolina, Southern Utah, Washington, Georgia, Oregon State, Rutgers, Stanford, Arizona State, BYU, California and Iowa round out the Super 16 field in the first three sessions of the event.

Junior Chae Campbell said she recognizes the magnitude of the first meet of the season and sees Saturday as a test right out of the gate.

“This is a stepping block for us,” Campbell said. “Just to kind of test where we’re at when we’re competing against these big teams. Personally, I’ve never competed against Oklahoma, so it’s like, let’s get out there (and) let’s have fun.”

At the Meet the Bruins intrasquad on Dec. 15, Campbell competed on all events except vault. The four-time All-American said she expects to compete the all-around for her third straight season in Westwood.

McDonald confirmed that expectation, among multiple other potential all-arounders for the Bruins this season.

“Chae is definitely training all-around,” McDonald said. “(Sophomore) Emma (Malabuyo) was managing some things in the preseason and so that’s why you saw her on two events (at Meet the Bruins). She’ll definitely be competing and we’re hoping to get her back all-around throughout the season.”

Malabuyo regularly competed in the all-around alongside Campbell and sophomore Jordan Chiles in 2022. Freshman Selena Harris and sophomore Emily Lee competed on all four events at Meet the Bruins and McDonald said the quartet of gymnasts could possibly do the same at the Super 16.

Familiar foes

Camaraderie will be a prevalent theme in Las Vegas. Also present at the Super 16 will be two of Chiles’ former Olympic teammates – Auburn’s Sunisa Lee and Oregon State’s Jade Carey.

The Olympic silver medalist said she is looking forward to seeing familiar faces after returning to NCAA action from the elite gymnastics circuit.

“I saw Jade all (elite) season this year,” Chiles said. “So being able to see her again after coming back from worlds will definitely be fun. Suni, on the other hand, I definitely can’t wait to see her. She’s been doing so good.”

And on the first of two occasions this season, redshirt senior Margzetta Frazier will be taking part in the same meet as her younger sister – Cal freshman eMjae Frazier.

Despite their sessions being on the same day, the elder sibling hopes to get some family time during their weekend stay in Nevada.

“I know I’m going to get in trouble for watching her and not paying attention to my team,” Frazier said. “But if I could put a Cal shirt on, I would. I’m so proud of her. Both my parents are coming, my grandma is coming. Hopefully, we can go get dinner together afterward. That’s really all I’m thinking about. What are we going to eat?”

McDonald – who was an assistant coach in Berkeley for the previous four seasons – helped recruit eMjae Frazier to join the Golden Bears. UCLA will visit Cal on Feb. 18, creating a true head-to-head moment between the sisters.

“Margzetta actually came on eMjae’s official visit up at Cal,” McDonald said. “So, I did get a little bit of time to get to know Margzetta a couple of years ago. (I’m) excited to see the sisters compete against each other. I think that’s a really special opportunity.”

The meet provides the Bruins an opportunity to start the year on a more successful note than in 2022. UCLA finished third in its season-opening tri-meet last season, earning its lowest score since 2015 in the process.

Chiles said she hopes the team emerges stronger in comparison to her first year with the blue and gold.

“Honestly, just knowing that it was a better start than what we did last year,” Chiles said. “If we take away something huge, I think it would be definitely a huge start to what’s going to come in April.”

Session four will be televised live from Las Vegas on the Big Ten Network at 6 p.m. on Saturday.

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Benjamin Royer | Assistant Sports editor
Royer is 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 previously a staff writer on the baseball, football and gymnastics beats. He is also a fourth-year communication student.
Royer is 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 previously a staff writer on the baseball, football and gymnastics beats. He is also a fourth-year communication student.
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