Bruins Compete for NCAA Individual Titles Friday
NCAA Individual Event/All-Around Championships
Date/Time: Friday, April 16, 2021 – 5 p.m. CT / 3 p.m. PT
Location: Fort Worth, Texas (Dickies Arena)
Event Feeds: watchespn.com
Live Stats: ncaa.com
CAMPBELL, DENNIS, FRAZIER VIE FOR INDIVIDUAL TITLES
UCLA qualified three gymnasts as individual competitors at this week's 2021 NCAA Gymnastics Championships in Fort Worth, Texas. Freshman Chae Campbell qualified as an all-arounder, and senior Nia Dennis and junior Margzetta Frazier will compete on vault and uneven bars, respectively. The Bruin trio will compete on Day One of the Championships on Friday, April 16, in the second semifinal session at 5pm CT/3pm PT.
Chae Campbell will rotate with LSU and start her competition on the floor exercise and then rotate to vault and then uneven bars before finishing on balance beam. She will compete at the end of LSU's team rotation. Nia Dennis and Margzetta Frazier will rotate with Alabama. Dennis will compete on vault in the first rotation, and Frazier will compete on uneven bars in the second rotation.
The first day of competition at the NCAA Championships will be televised live on ESPN2 on Friday, April 16 at 12pm CT/10am PT and 5pm CT/3pm PT, and the team finals will air live on ABC on Saturday, April 17 at 2:30pm CT/12:30pm PT. Event feeds for all four apparatus will be available on watchespn.com. Live results can be found at ncaa.com.
All competitors will be in action on Friday, April 16 in the team semifinals and individual event and all-around championships. Individual event winners and the all-around champion will be determined after both semifinals are completed. The Top 2 teams from each semifinal will advance to the Team Finals on Saturday, April 17. Teams competing in the first semifinal are Michigan, Florida, California, Minnesota. Oklahoma, LSU, Utah and Alabama will compete in the second semifinal.
UCLA's INDIVIDUAL NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
A total of 20 Bruins have won 40 NCAA titles, ranking UCLA second behind only Georgia (42) in individual NCAA titles. UCLA has won six titles in the past three championships and nine individual titles in the last five championships. Kyla Ross has accounted for most of those titles, winning vault and floor exercise in 2019 and uneven bars and balance beam in 2017. Other recent event winners were Katelyn Ohashi (2018 floor exercise), Christine Peng-Peng Lee (2018 balance beam), Danusia Francis (2016 balance beam), and Samantha Peszek (2015 all-around and balance beam). Since 2000, the Bruins have captured 29 individual titles, the most of any school during that time period.
YEAR TWO OF NEW FORMAT
After 26 years of the Super Six Team Final format, this is the second year of the new championship format featuring eight teams in the semifinals and four teams advancing to the finals. The championship qualifiers were the top two teams and top all-arounder at each of the four Regionals, along with the top event specialist in each event (not on an advancing team or an all-arounder).
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP NOTES
*This is just the fourth time that UCLA has not qualified as a team to the NCAA Championships. The other years UCLA did not qualify were 1985, 1991 and 2006. The Bruins posted a season high but finished in third place behind Michigan and California at this year's Morgantown Regional.
*Only six teams have ever won the NCAA title in the 38 years of the Championships - Georgia (10), Utah (9), UCLA (7), Alabama (6), Oklahoma (4) and Florida (3). For the first 15 years of the Championship, only Utah, Georgia and Alabama had ever won the team title. UCLA broke the stranglehold in 1997. It took 16 years for another new team - Florida in 2013 - to win a title, and Oklahoma joined the party in 2014, tying with Florida for the championship before winning outright in 2016, 2017 and 2019.
*Only half of the schools return from the eight-team 2019 NCAA Championships field - Oklahoma (1st place), LSU (2nd), Michigan (5th), and Utah (7th). Florida, Alabama and California return after missing the 2019 Championship, and Minnesota is back for the first time since 2016.
*There are only two returning individual champions in the field - Michigan's Natalie Wojcik, who won beam in 2019, and Denver all-arounder Lynnzee Brown, who won a share of the floor title in 2019.
*UCLA ranks second among all schools with 40 individual titles. Georgia leads all teams with 42. Utah ranks third with 27, followed by Alabama (26) and Florida (21).
*UCLA has won either a team or an individual NCAA title in each of the last five championships and 15 times since the 2000 season.
BRUINS WITH DFW TIES
Carrollton, Texas native and Prestonwood Christian Academy graduate Chae Campbell returns to her home state for her final competition of the 2021 season. Campbell trained at Metroplex Gymnastics from 2014-20 and was a two-time JO National Team member (2015 and 2019), a two-time JO National champion and the 2016 U.S. Junior national vault champion. Campbell will be competing at the NCAA Championships as an all-arounder and will rotate with LSU, which puts the nation's top two freshmen together in Campbell and LSU's Haleigh Bryant. They each have all-around high scores of 39.625 and are ranked in the Top 20 nationally (Bryant - 9th, Campbell - 17th). Nia Dennis also has ties to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where her family now resides.
FRAZIER BECOMES THREE-TIME UB ALL-AMERICAN
Junior Margzetta Frazier earned first-team regular season All-America honors on the uneven bars, her third career All-America honor on the event. 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 9.898 this season and has scored a career-high 9.950 five times in the last six meets, including at the Pac-12 Championships to win her first conference title.
CAMPBELL NAMED PAC-12 FRESHMAN/NEWCOMER OF YEAR
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 finished the regular season ranked 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 overall. 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 9.908 on floor and has scored 9.9 or better on eight of 10 routines, with no score lower than 9.850 all season.
DENNIS SELECTED AS FINALIST FOR AAI AWARD
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 on April 21. 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 a team-high 17 scores of 9.9 or higher, including three 9.95s. UCLA's top vaulter, she is averaging 9.882 and ranks 24th in the nation. She earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors on vault and floor and honorable mention acclaim on bars. A 2019 first-team All-American on uneven bars, she helped the Bruins capture the 2018 NCAA Championship and 2018 and 2019 Pac-12 Championships. She also has two career Pac-12 Specialist of the Week awards, in 2021 and 2019. Throughout her career, she has 24 individual event wins, including 12 this season.
IT'S JANET, MISS JACKSON ...
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 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 17 9.9+ scores and has a team-high five victories on uneven bars, including a win at the Pac-12 Championships. Frazier 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.
DENNIS BREAKS THE INTERNET ... AGAIN
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 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, was featured in InStyle Magazine, 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.