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Chae Campbell returns to UCLA gymnastics for fifth and final year

Senior Chae Campbell salutes after performing a tumbling pass at the 2024 NCAA regional semifinals. Campbell’s routine scored a 9.950 and earned a 10 from one judge. (Neha Krishnakumar/Daily Bruin staff)

By Aaron Doyle

June 5, 2024 6:25 p.m.

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly stated that the 2024 UCLA gymnastics roster will host some of the biggest names in the sport. In fact, it is the 2025 UCLA gymnastics roster.

This post was updated June 7 at 3:05 p.m.

The 2025 UCLA gymnastics roster will host some of the biggest names in the sport – Olympians Emma Malabuyo, Brooklyn Moors and potentially Jordan Chiles.

Now, add Chae Campbell’s name to the list.

Campbell will return to the Bruins for a fifth year, she and the program announced Wednesday, utilizing her last year of NCAA eligibility.

“There was a lot for me to give, given how my season was where I was injured for a little bit,” Campbell said. “It didn’t feel like it was how I wanted to end the year.”

After UCLA finished its 2024 campaign 17th in the country – tying for its lowest final ranking in program history – Campbell’s decision to return will have an immediate impact as the only graduate student on roster as of now. The former Pac-12 Freshman of the Year has been a mainstay in the vault and floor lineups throughout her career, notching perfect scores on both events.

During the 2024 season, Campbell sustained a leg injury that kept her out of the floor lineup for most of the year. After a month of being absent from the lineup, Campbell returned strikingly, scoring her first perfect 10 of the season.

Campbell went on to hit four consecutive 9.900 or higher floor routines, including her performance at the 2024 NCAA national championships where she was the sole competitor on floor for UCLA.

Campbell said she has unfinished business after last season didn’t end the way she wanted.

“Being at Nationals as an individual, it stinks. It’s fun and I am very grateful that I get to be there because it’s definitely a privilege, but it is way more fun being there with your team,” Campbell said. “I definitely think there is some unfinished business.”

Although Campbell is most commonly known for her vibrant and expressive floor routines, the senior’s all-around capabilities have improved since she became a Bruin in 2021. Amid injuries this season, Campbell matched or set career highs on all four events and reached perfection twice.

Campbell said she wants to compete upgraded skills next year to top off her all-around program – which she will be working on during the preseason.

“I’m working on 10.0 vault. I don’t want to share what it is yet, but I’m working on it,” Campbell said. “I’ve been wanting to do this for three years, and I’m very certain that it’s going to happen this year.”

Campbell’s leadership will be vital in her extended stay in Westwood as the program welcomes six freshmen, including five-star recruits Sasha Fujisaka and Macy McGowan.

“She leads by example in everything she does,” said coach Janelle McDonald.  “She has a really high expectation for herself, but she cares deeply about every single person on the team, and she wants to help each person and support them in being the best version of themselves.”

Seniors Frida Esparza, Sara Ulias and Katie McNamara all have remaining years of eligibility but have yet to announce their decisions on if they’ll return for another season.

Campbell’s return is doubly vital for the Bruins, as her departure would have left UCLA with another hole to fill in the all-around following Selena Harris’ dismissal from the program and swift transfer to Florida.

“This year, for me, is just really stepping into being confident and my gymnastics as a leader and really helping bring this team to the top,” Campbell said.

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Aaron Doyle
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