Bruins Post Season-High in Third-Place Finish at Regionals
Morgantown, W.Va. - UCLA earned a season-high 197.275, but it was not enough to qualify to the NCAA Gymnastics Championships, as the Bruins finished third at the Regional Final behind Michigan (198.100) and California (197.750).
This will be the first time since 2006 that UCLA will miss the NCAA Championships, although there are individual qualifiers still to be announced.
"For our team, the reality is you want to show up and have your best competition at the biggest competition, and that's what we did today," said head coach Chris Waller. "We had our best meet, our highest score of the day, and the fight was real the whole time. They're all champions."
The Bruins started the meet on floor exercise and had to endure a lengthy delay after judges conferenced for several minutes on Sekai Wright's leadoff routine that eventually scored 9.575 after a stumble on her leap series. Emma Andres shook off the delay and hit a strong routine, scoring 9.825. UCLA closed with four scores of 9.875 or higher, with Margzetta Frazier and Chae Campbell hitting back-to-back 9.9s, Pauline Tratz earning 9.875 and Nia Dennis closing with a 9.925. On the strength of that back-end of the lineup, UCLA scored 49.425 to tie for second with Cal, just one-tenth behind first-place Michigan.
The Bruins' hit six solid vaults in the second rotation, scoring 49.350, but lost a tenth on Cal, who hit 49.450 on beam. Tratz led off with another strong vault, scoring 9.825. Kendal Poston and Wright hit back-to-back 9.850s, and Frazier scored 9.800. Dennis and Campbell contributed the Bruins' top marks, with stuck Yurchenko fulls that scored 9.900 and 9.925, respectively. Michigan began to pull away with a school-record 49.725 on uneven bars and a two-even total of 99.250, .375 ahead of the Golden Bears.
In rotation three, Campbell and Frida Esparza led off with 9.850s on uneven bars. After Savannah Kooyman's 9.750, Sara Ulias hit a huge routine, sticking her Stalder to double back dismount for a 9.900. Norah Flatley contributed a 9.825, and Frazier closed with her fifth 9.950 in her last six meets to improve UCLA's score to 49.375. Cal increased its lead over the Bruins to .225 after scoring 49.500.
It was an immediate challenge on balance beam in the final rotation after a leadoff fall by Poston, but the Bruins picked the senior up with five-straight hit routines. Dennis appeared crooked on her flight series but held on to correct and stay on the beam, scoring 9.725. Frazier followed with a 9.825, and Flatley and Campbell put up back-to-back 9.9s, Campbell's third 9.9+ score of the night. Nicole Shapiro closed it out with a 9.775 to push UCLA to a 49.125 on beam and to its season-high team total of 197.275.
"Given where we started back in October and everything we've been through, I just can't say enough about how proud I am of the whole team," said Waller. "They didn't lose, we just didn't win the meet. But they left here champions because of what they did in their hearts and for their team."