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Gymnastics Heads to Regionals to Compete for NCAA Berth

Mar 31, 2021
Kendal Poston

No. 13 UCLA at NCAA Morgantown Regional
Location: Morgantown, W.Va.(WVU Coliseum)
First Round: Apr. 1, 3 p.m. ET (Watch | Live Stats)
Second Round, Session 1: Apr. 2, 1 p.m. ET (Watch | Live Stats)
Second Round, Session 2: Apr. 2, 7 p.m. ET (Watch | Live Stats)
Regional Final: Apr. 3, 7 p.m. ET (Watch | Live Stats)

No. 13 UCLA (11-4) is the No. 4 seed at the NCAA Morgantown Regional and will compete for one of two available berths in the NCAA Championships, which will be held in Fort Worth, Texas Apr. 16-17. The NCAA Regional meet will take place Apr. 1-3 at West Virginia's WVU Coliseum, beginning with a first-round play-in dual meet between the host school and Penn State on Thursday, Apr. 1 at 3 pm ET. The winner of that dual will advance to the second round on Friday, Apr. 2. Session 1 of the second round with California, BYU, Ohio State and Towson will take place at 1 pm, followed by Session 2 featuring Michigan, UCLA, Kent State and the winner of Penn State/West Virginia at 7 pm. The top two teams from each semifinal will advance to the regional final on Saturday, Apr. 3 at 7 pm. The top two finishers in the final will advance to the NCAA Championships, along with the top individual all-arounder and event finishers not on a qualifying team.

All four sessions of the NCAA Regional will be streamed on ESPN3. Live stats will be available at

The rotation order for the Regional was determined by blind draw prior to the selections. The No. 4 seed Bruins will begin the semifinals on uneven bars in rotation one and will end on vault. The Penn State/West Virginia winner will start on vault, Michigan will begin on balance beam, and Kent State starts on floor exercise. If the Bruins advance to the Regional Final as the top finisher, they will start on vault. If they finish second, they will begin on floor exercise.

The Bruins have won 24 NCAA Regional titles, including wins at the last three Regionals. UCLA took first at the 2018 Columbus Regional, scoring 197.650, their fourth-highest Regional score ever. Bruins took first place on every event, with Pauline Tratz and Anna Glenn winning vault, Kyla Ross winning bars and beam, and Katelyn Ohashi winning floor. In 2019, the first year of the new Regional format, the Bruins placed first at Michigan with a score of 198.075 after winning the semifinal round with a score of 197.675. Ross won vault and bars and tied with Ohashi for the beam title.

Junior gymnast Margzetta Frazier has earned first-team regular season All-America honors on the uneven bars. This is Frazier's third All-America honor in her career. Last season, she earned second-team regular season honors, and in 2019, she earned first-team postseason All-America acclaim. She has finished the regular season ranked Top 10 in the nation on bars in each of the last two years, including No. 6 this season. Frazier is currently averaging 9.886 and has scored a career-high 9.950 three times in the last four meets, including at the Pac-12 Championships to win her first conference title.

Six UCLA gymnasts earned a total of 12 All-Pac-12 honors in 2021. Pac-12 Freshman/Newcomer of the Year Chae Campbell tied for the most first-team honors in the Pac-12 with three (all-around, vault and floor exercise) and also picked up an honorable mention nod on balance beam. Senior Nia Dennis earned a total of three All-Pac-12 honors, receiving first-team acclaim on vault and floor exercise and honorable mention recognition on uneven bars. She will finish her career with a total of seven All-Pac-12 honors. Junior Margzetta Frazier received first-team honors in the all-around and on uneven bars. The 2021 Pac-12 uneven bars co-champion is now a three-time honoree on the event. Senior Pauline Tratz earned first-team recognition on floor exercise. She was a second-team All-Pac-12 honoree on floor in 2018 as a freshman. Earning All-Pac-12 honors for the first time in their careers were junior Samantha Sakti on balance beam (first-team) and freshman Frida Esparza on uneven bars (honorable mention).

UCLA senior Pauline Tratz was named the Pac-12 Gymnastics Scholar-Athlete of the Year, the third Bruin gymnast to win the award in the last four years. Tratz is a Communications Studies major with a 3.86 cumulative GPA. A three-time WCGA Scholastic All-American, she was selected to the 2020 Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll and was a 2019 second-team Pac-12 All-Academic selection as a sophomore. Last year, she was named to UCLA's 2020 All-Academic Team, holding the highest cumulative GPA on her team, and she has received Director's Honor Roll distinction every quarter at UCLA.

On the competition floor, she has been one of UCLA's most consistent athletes this season, averaging over 9.825 on vault and floor exercise and hitting every routine she has performed this season. She has been especially hot on floor exercise since February, averaging 9.9125 in the last six meets and hitting highs of 9.950 twice in the last three meets. At the Pac-12 Championships, she hit a season-high 9.9 on vault and won a share of the floor title with a career-high-tying 9.950. Known primarily for her vault and floor exercise, Tratz added uneven bars and balance beam to her repertoire in her final season. At the start of the year, she hit big clutch performances on uneven bars in the first two meets while the Bruins were short-handed on the event due to injuries. Put in the anchor position and under pressure to hit due to a fall from an earlier competitor, she delivered each time, scoring 9.65 in the opener and improving to 9.775 the following week at Arizona. She also performed an exhibition routine on balance beam for the first-time ever as a Bruin on Senior Day and hit her routine.

Chae Campbell was named the Pac-12 Gymnastics Freshman/Newcomer of the Year for 2021, UCLA's ninth winner in Pac-12 history. Campbell competed in the all-around in all but one meet this season and ranks as the top freshman and No. 4 all-arounder in the Pac-12. At the national level, she finished the regular season ranked No. 17. Her all-around high of 39.625, set Mar. 6 at California, is tied for the nation's highest all-around score by a freshman. A three-time Pac-12 Freshman/Newcomer of the Week, Campbell has captured a team-best 13 individual titles this season, including the Pac-12 floor exercise title. She has four all-around, four vault and four floor exercise wins, with one of the vault victories coming on a perfect 9.950 score on her Yurchenko layout full vault. Her season-best event scores are 9.95 on vault and floor exercise, 9.925 on balance beam, and 9.875 on uneven bars. She averages a team-best 9.916 on floor and has scored 9.925 or better on her last five routines.

UCLA posted season-highs on floor exercise (49.525) and vault (49.425) in the first two rotations at the Pac-12 Championships but had to count a fall on balance beam in the final rotation, dropping them out of contention and into third place. The Bruins had strong individual performances, winning four event titles. Sekai Wright stuck her Yurchenko 1.5 for a career-high 9.95 to earn the vault crown. Margzetta Frazier's third 9.950 of the season on uneven bars tied her for first place. Chae Campbell and Pauline Tratz each scored career-highs of 9.950 on floor exercise to finish as co-champions.

After missing the entire regular season with an ankle injury suffered in warmups of the season opener, junior Norah Flatley made a welcomed comeback to the lineup on Mar. 20 at the Pac-12 Championships. Competing on uneven bars, she recorded a 9.875 on her first competitive routine since Mar. 8, 2020. A second-team All-American on uneven bars in 2019, Flatley holds a career-high of 9.975 on the event and averages 9.860 on bars in her career, with eight scores of 9.9 or higher.

Nia Dennis has been selected as one of six finalists for the AAI Award, which is presented to the most outstanding senior female gymnast in the country. She joins Alyssa Baumann (Florida), Lynnzee Brown (Denver), Kyana George (California), Lexy Ramler (Minnesota), and Anastasia Webb (Oklahoma)) as finalists for the prestigious award, which will be announced in April. In its history, UCLA has had four winners – Vanessa Zamarripa in 2013, Jamie Dantzscher in 2004, Mohini Bhardwaj in 2001 and Donna Kemp in 1984. This is the fourth consecutive year a Bruin has been an AAI Finalist, as Dennis joins Kyla Ross (2020), Katelyn Ohashi (2019), and Christine Peng-Peng Lee (2018 and 2017).

Dennis has recorded a career-high 39.475 in the all-around this season and is the only Bruin to score 9.9 or higher on all four events, with highs of 9.950 on floor exercise and uneven bars, 9.925 on vault and 9.900 on balance beam. She has 14 scores of 9.9 or higher, including three 9.95s. Both numbers are tied for the most on the Bruin squad. UCLA's top vaulter, she is averaging 9.875 and ranks 24th in the nation and earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors on vault and floor and second-team honors on bars. Dennis is a 2019 first-team All-American on uneven bars and helped the Bruins capture the 2018 NCAA Championship and 2018 and 2019 Pac-12 Championships. A four-time All-Pac-12 honoree, she also has two Pac-12 Specialist of the Week awards in her career, in 2021 and 2019. Throughout her career, she has 24 individual event wins, including 12 this season.

Junior Margzetta Frazier received the call of a lifetime on Feb. 19 before the Bruins competed at Utah. On the line, on FaceTime, was none other than superstar Janet Jackson. A week earlier, Jackson had shared Frazier's new Janet Jackson floor routine to her social media, helping Frazier's routine go viral. Jackson also posted video of her call, where she told a tearful Frazier that she inspired her and that she would like her to teach her some gymnastics. Frazier has since been featured on Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood.

Frazier has done it all for the Bruins this season, competing in the all-around in every meet. She has scored 39+ in each meet, with a high of 39.550 set while winning the all-around Feb. 27 against Oregon State. She is tied for the team lead with 14 9.9+ scores and has a team-high five victories on uneven bars, including a win at the Bruins' last meet for the Pac-12 title. Frazier currently ranks 18th in the nation in the all-around and sixth on uneven bars. She earned first-team regular season All-America honors on uneven bars, her third career honor on the event, and was a first-team All-Pac-12 honoree in the all-around and uneven bars.

For the second time in as many years, and after her first performance of her new floor exercise routine, Nia Dennis went viral. Dennis' routine celebrating black culture picked up steam in a hurry after it was posted to social media the day after the Bruins' season opener. Within an hour, it went viral, and the video currently has 11M views on Twitter alone. Her routine was shared by the likes of Michelle Obama, Janet Jackson, Missy Elliott, Common and Kerry Washington. Dennis made a repeat visit to The Ellen Show and appeared on the Today Show, the NBA on TNT, Access Hollywood and Soul of a Nation, along with Margzetta Frazier. Last season, Dennis' Beyonce routine also went viral during the season, and later in the summer, she went viral again on TikTok.

Although more than half of UCLA's expected freshman class did not make it to campus this year as they pursued Olympic berths, the three freshmen who are in Westwood are making a huge impression on the Bruin team. All three freshmen received a Pac-12 weekly honor this season, with Chae Campbell winning Freshman of the Week honors three times before being named the Pac-12 Freshman/Newcomer of the Year, Frida Esparza winning Freshman of the Week once, and Sara Ulias receiving the Coaches Choice award.

Campbell has become an all-around force, recording a high of 39.625 on Mar. 6 and ranking 17th in the nation and fourth in the Pac-12. She tied for most first-team All-Pac-12 honors with three (all-around, vault and floor exercise) and won a share of the Pac-12 floor title. She has career-bests of 9.925 or better on vault, beam and floor, along with a 9.875 on bars, and has 13 individual titles. Esparza has two uneven bars victories and won Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honors after her first meet, during which she won bars with a 9.9 and scored 9.8 on beam. Esparza improved upon her beam score the following week, scoring 9.9, and she set a new career-high on bars at the Pac-12 Championships with a 9.925. Ulias made her competitive debut on Feb. 10 against BYU, scoring 9.725 on uneven bars and improved her score to 9.875 in a second-place finish at Utah and 9.925 with a third-place results against Oregon State. She also debuted on floor exercise on Feb. 14, scoring 9.725. Esparza has four Top 3 finishes on uneven bars, and Ulias has three.

UCLA's floor exercise lineup has turned heads in a big way, with not just one but two routines going viral, plus others gaining attention from national media. The Bruins are ranked sixth nationally and averaging 49.278, with a high of 49.525 set at the Pac-12 Championships. All six of the floor regulars have career-highs of 9.875 or better, and four have career-bests of 9.950 or better. Nia Dennis, whose floor routines have gone viral in each of the last two years, has scored 9.950 twice this season with her routine she calls "The Culture", and she has a career-best of 9.975, set a year ago. Margzetta Frazier went viral with her Janet Jackson routine, scoring a season-high of 9.925 the first time she competed the new routine. She has a career-high of 9.950 and is currently averaging 9.881 this season. Chae Campbell averages a team-high 9.916 on floor, the only Bruin with a season average of 9.9 or better, and her career-best 9.950 routine at Utah was shared by SportsCenter. Pauline Tratz has scored two 9.950s and a 9.925 in her last three meets and is averaging 9.875. Sekai Wright's 90's Boy Band routine has become a fan favorite, and she has scored a career-best 9.875 three times in her last five meets. Emma Andres has scored as high as 9.850 this season and has a career-high of 9.875.

The Bruins have had their best vault rotations of the season in the last month, averaging 49.338 in their last four meets and 49.222 overall on the year. Against Oregon State on Feb. 27, they stuck five of six vaults to score 49.225. Nia Dennis earned a season-best 9.925 to win the event. Margzetta Frazier (9.850), Emma Andres (9.825), Pauline Tratz (9.800) and Chae Campbell (9.800) also stuck their Yurchenko layout fulls, and Kendal Poston had a small hop on her handspring pike front half, scoring 9.825. Andres' vault was her first one this season, and it set a new career-high for her. The Bruins improved their season-high a week later at Cal, scoring 49.375, thanks to a perfect 9.95 score from Campbell and a second-straight 9.925 from Dennis. After scoring 49.325 against San Jose State, UCLA recorded a new season-best of 49.425 at the Pac-12 Championships, with Sekai Wright winning the event with a career-high 9.95. Dennis added a 9.925, and Tratz scored a new season-high of 9.9 in the leadoff position. The Bruins have scored 49.1 or higher on vault in eight of nine meets and rank eighth nationally on the event. Six Bruin vaulters have season averages of 9.8 or higher - Dennis (9.875), Campbell (9.867), Poston (9.839), Andres (9.825), Tratz (9.825) and Frazier (9.8). Wright is just under at 9.781.

The Bruins' uneven bars squad had a huge performance on Feb. 27, scoring 49.550, the team's highest event score on any event this season and UCLA's highest bars score since Apr. 6, 2019. UCLA's bar team was boosted by the return of Nia Dennis on Feb. 10 and just added back another All-American in Norah Flatley, who scored 9.875 in her season debut at the Pac-12 Championships. Dennis, a 2019 first-team All-American, has won bars twice this season, and she tied her career-high of 9.950 on Feb. 27 against Oregon State. Three-time All-American Margzetta Frazier ranks sixth nationally and first in the Pac-12 on uneven bars and owns six 9.9+ scores this season, including three 9.95s in the last four meets. Freshman Sara Ulias joined the 9.9 club with her career-high 9.925 on Feb. 27. She has earned Top 3 finishes on bars in three of her last five meets. Frida Esparza has also excelled on the event, winning bars twice with scores of 9.9 and scoring a career-best 9.925 at the Pac-12 Championships. She is averaging 9.88 in her last four meets and has just one score under 9.8 this season. At the top of the lineup, Chae Campbell scored a career-high 9.875 Mar. 6, and Savannah Kooyman has a season-best of 9.850. The Bruins have scored 49.1 or higher in each of their last seven meets.

Five different Bruin gymnasts have scored 9.9 or higher on balance beam this season, the most of any event. Samantha Sakti leads the way with six 9.9+ scores, including a career-high-tying 9.950 at Arizona on Jan. 31. Chae Campbell and Margzetta Frazier each have two, both earning highs of 9.925. Nia Dennis and Frida Esparza have one 9.9 each this year, and Dennis owns a career-high of 9.975. Three other Bruins have scored 9.9 or higher on beam in their career - Kendal Poston (9.9), Nicole Shapiro (9.925) and Norah Flatley (9.95). UCLA's best beam score this season came at Utah, a 49.425 in a six-for-six rotation. Poston led off on beam for the first time in her career and scored a season-high 9.875. Sakti followed with a 9.900, and Frazier scored a career-high and meet-winning 9.925. Shapiro came in as a last-minute replacement and hit her routine for a 9.725, and Esparza and Campbell closed with scores of 9.875 and 9.850, respectively.

UCLA finished the regular season ranked No. 13 in the national rankings, which are based on National Qualifying Score (NQS). The NQS this season is calculated by average of the four highest scores, two of which must be on the road. The Bruins rank No. 6 on floor, No. 8 on vault, No. 10 on bars and No. 19 on beam.

Individually, Margzetta Frazier ranks 18th in the all-around and sixth on bars. Chae Campbell is 17th in the all-around and on floor. Nia Dennis ranks 21st on floor and 24th on vault. Samantha Sakti ranks 21st on beam, and Pauline Tratz is 21st on floor.