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‘A huge win’: UCLA gymnast Chae Campbell flies to career highs on bars and beam

Senior Chae Campbell pumps her first after her beam routine at UCLA gymnastics’ meet against California on Sunday at Pauley Pavilion. Campbell recorded career-high scores on bars and beam during the meet. (Julia Zhou/Photo editor)

By Genevieve Trimbell

Feb. 27, 2024 11:46 a.m.

This post was updated Feb. 27 at 9:29 p.m.

Chae Campbell is used to achieving high marks on vault and floor.

She’s received seven perfect scores for her Yurchenko full and two perfect 10s for her floor routine.

The senior holds five All-America honors on her premier events.

But in Sunday’s meet, it was beam and bars on which Campbell excelled.

“I’m finally able to see my hard work paying off,” Campbell said. “It does feel a bit different in a great way that I showed myself that I’m able to score those same high scores that I can do typically on vault and floor.”

Campbell’s career-high 9.950 on bars and career-high-tying 9.925 on beam Sunday contributed to No. 10 UCLA’s third-best team score of the season. But the Bruins and Campbell battled back from a rough beginning to secure their final success.

Campbell began the meet with a 9.750 on vault – the lowest vault score of her career. Despite the Bruins dropping that score, they only managed a 49.125 on the event.

With the Golden Bears holding a .525 advantage over the Bruins going into the second rotation, Campbell knew she had to deliver on bars.

And deliver she did – with a 9.900/10 split, Campbell posted the highest bars score of her career.

“I started crying because one of the judges gave me a 10, and I never thought I’d see that,” Campbell said. “That is a huge win for me.”

But her work wasn’t done yet. For the first time since UCLA’s season opener, Campbell featured in the beam lineups. In her last appearance, she’d fallen twice, failing to reach the 9.0 mark.

But history did not repeat itself on Sunday.

Campbell remained on the apparatus from the moment she began her routine until she stuck her dismount. The wolf turn that stunted her beam routine at the Super 16 was smooth, her leap pass was completed with no wobbles, and she landed her dismount with a smile.

And once again, she was rewarded – this time with a 9.925, a mark she had not reached since the end of her freshman season.

Coach Janelle McDonald said the fact that beam isn’t as natural for Campbell made her victory all the more impressive.

“The work she’s been putting in to build the confidence to be able to not just show up in that moment, but to do it with so many of the details locked in and confident was so exciting to see,” McDonald said.

Campbell has been battling an injury through the season and has thus not been in the floor lineups for the past four meets. But in that time, she’s been able to hone her strength in previous areas of weakness.

For teammates like junior Emily Lee, who see the work both in the gym and in rehab, watching each other succeed is rewarding.

“You’re with them literally all the time,” Lee said. “You see everything they put in just to get where they are, and so to see them finally accomplish the goal they want … there’s no feeling that compares.”

Campbell is still working on a full-time return from her injury, yet still uncertain of when she may return to floor.

But as she waits, she said she is continuing to improve and will be ready once returning to full strength.

“I’ve worked very, very hard,” Campbell said. “I want to prove to myself that I am an all-arounder: I can do every event, and I can get a 9.950 on every event.”

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Genevieve Trimbell | Sports contributor
Trimbell is currently a contributor on the gymnastics and rowing beats.
Trimbell is currently a contributor on the gymnastics and rowing beats.
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