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Bruins Make Statement at NCAA Championships

Apr 16, 2021
Chae Campbell

Fort Worth, Texas – UCLA's individual competitors stood out in the crowd at the NCAA Championships, with freshman Chae Campbell, senior Nia Dennis and junior Margzetta Frazier performing memorable routines in their final performances of the season.

Campbell was dazzling all night, earning All-America honors in the all-around, balance beam and floor exercise. She began her competition on floor exercise and turned in the fifth-highest score of the session, a 9.9375. She had a scare in the second rotation when she hyperextended her knee on a warmup landing on vault, but she continued in the competition and scored 9.850 on vault and 9.8375 on uneven bars. In her final routine of the night, Campbell tied her career-best on the balance beam with a 9.925, bringing her all-around total to 39.550.

"I'm super proud of my performance and my teammates' performances," Campbell said. "I was proud of myself because I was able to push through the rest of the meet, especially because it was a little uncertain, and I really had to rely on my training more than ever. I was really proud of myself that I was able to do that because I think that was probably the first time I really had to test my limits and my mental capacity."

Dennis, in the last performance of her legendary career, upgraded her vault to a Yurchenko double full, the first time she had competed that vault since 2015. She hit it for a score of 9.7875.

"To compete that one last time, my senior year, I feel great, and I was really happy I could bring it back one last time," Dennis said.

Frazier finished her season with another hit routine on the uneven bars, where she scored 9.8750. She overarched slightly on a handstand but finished the routine with an effortless stuck double layout dismount. Frazier competed every possible routine for the Bruins this season and hit every single routine without a fall, as she has done her entire career at UCLA.

"I probably should have had a different mindset," she admitted. "Instead of thinking this is just another meet, it's just like practice, I was really thinking, this is it, no regrets, this is your last routine, just hit all your handstands, stick your dismount and walk away feeling bad-ass, and I can say that's what I tried my best to do, and I'm proud of myself for doing it, and I really do applaud myself for doing that the majority of the year.".

In addition to their strong performances, the Bruins made an even stronger statement with their Black Lives Matter leotards and t-shirts and equality masks. Frazier ever had BLM written on her cheek.

"We didn't bring these shirts on accident, we didn't wear these leos on accident; we wore it for a reason, and I'm very proud of that," Frazier said. "It's not an easy message to carry because a lot of people unfortunately will disagree and see it as political, when we're really advocating that a certain race of people deserve to live, and there's nothing political about that. And this team is so much more than a gymnastics team. We're really trying to change the world and make it better. So if anything, I hope today was an advertisement that UCLA stands for what is right and what is just. We don't just do flips. Of course we want to win, and we want to get 10s and make people smile, but we also want to bring peace and educate everyone around the world. So it meant a lot to wear that leo today."

Campbell added, "Everything that this leo is, and what it represents, and just the way I feel so empowered wearing this leo is amazing. We knew we had to wear this leo because with the leo comes a powerful message, and what better way to spread that message than to do it on a national stage. And to do it with Nia and Marz, who I look up to as far as how they stand up for social injustice. They really are the pinnacle of what I want to do as I grow as a person and learn how to advocate for what I believe in."

"All I can say is that's on black excellence, period, because we did that," said Dennis. "I'm so proud of us and how far we've come and everything we've done as a program. But also us three … to be out here representing the Black girls and UCLA with pride and poise and power and unity, it was really surreal."