UCLA Advances to Regional Final After Second-Place Showing
Morgantown, W.Va. - UCLA advanced to the NCAA Regional Final after a second-place finish in the second round. The Bruins scored 197.050 to finish behind first-place and top-seeded Michigan, who scored 197.650. West Virginia finished in third place with a 195.650, and Kent State was fourth with a 194.300.
The Bruins showed resilience throughout the meet, overcoming early falls in the first two rotations with clutch routines. After Chae Campbell's leadoff 9.850 on uneven bars in the first rotation, Frida Esparza cast over on a handstand near the end of a solid routine and had to drop off. Her 9.325 score put the pressure on, but the Bruins' third competitor, Savannah Kooyman, hit her routine for a 9.775, and Sara Ulias and Norah Flatley recorded back-to-back 9.875s. Margzetta Frazier, a three-time uneven bars All-American and the 2021 Pac-12 bars champion, finished the rotation with a stuck double layout dismount and a career-high-tying 9.950, her fourth 9.950 in the last five meets. Her score led the Bruins to a 49.325 team total, which put them in the lead over Kent State (49.175), Michigan (48.925) and West Virginia (48.725).
The Bruins ran into the same situation in rotation two on balance beam. Kendal Poston led off with a strong 9.850, but they needed the final four beam workers to hit after two falls from Samantha Sakti in the two spot. Frazier stepped up third and displayed a calm confidence and scored 9.800. Flatley followed with her first beam routine of the year after missing the entire regular season with an ankle injury. She showed absolutely no signs of rust and delivered a huge 9.875. Campbell started her routine with a wobble on her double wolf turn but held on and finished strong, scoring 9.800. Nicole Shapiro closed it out with a clutch 9.850 to wipe out the earlier mistake and give the Bruins a 49.175 team total, holding onto the lead by .050 over Michigan.
Although their top two events remained, the Bruins lost their lead in the third rotation after Michigan hit a huge 49.650 on vault. Two out of bounds deductions dropped the Bruins' floor exercise score in the third rotation to 49.150, but they kept a comfortable hold on the Top 2 thanks to a pair of career-highs from leadoff Sekai Wright (9.875) and Emma Andres (9.900).
UCLA finished it out on vault with a 49.400. Tratz's 9.850 started the rotation, and Wright stuck her Yurchenko 1.5 for the second meet in a row, scoring 9.900. Nia Dennis and Campbell closed with a pair of 9.925s as UCLA secured its Top 2 finish and 197.050 score. Michigan survived an early fall on uneven bars and scored 49.550 to wrap up first place with a 197.650.
The Bruins will need another Top 2 finish against Michigan, California and Ohio State at Saturday's Regional Final to qualify for the NCAA Championship. The competition will take place at 4pm PT and will be streamed on ESPN3.