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UCLA Hosts Arizona Sunday in Home Opener

Jan 28, 2022
Pauline Tratz

UCLA vs. Arizona
Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022 – 2 pm PT
Los Angeles, Calif. (Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom)

Broadcast: Pac-12 Network
Talent: Jim Watson, JaNay Honest
Live Stats:

For the first time in 694 days, the Bruins will compete in front of home fans at a regular season meet. UCLA's last home meet with fans took place on Mar. 8, 2020 before the season was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the 2021 season was held in empty arenas.

Fans wishing to attend UCLA indoor athletic events must provide proof of fully-vaccinated status or one of the following negative test results: Antigen test administered within one day of event OR PCR test administered within two days of event (all guests, age 2 and older). Fans over the age of 18 will also need to show a valid ID along with their proof of vaccination or negative test result. Face coverings will be required for all individuals aged 2 or older, regardless of vaccination status, at all times unless actively eating or drinking. For more information about the UCLA Athletics COVID-19 policies and procedures, CLICK HERE.

UCLA improved upon its season-opening score by nearly a point and a half, placing second in a tri-meet at Oregon State with a score of 196.300. Oregon State was first with a 197.000, and UC Davis placed third with a 194.700. The Bruins scored over 49 on bars (49.175), beam (49.275) and floor (49.000) and enjoyed strong contributions from the freshman class, including a 39.100 all-around debut from Emma Malabuyo, a team-high 9.9 on beam from Ana Padurariu and team-high scores on vault (9.875) and bars (9.925) from Jordan Chiles.

UCLA's leadoff performers propelled the Bruins to success in their last meet, setting the tone for the team by posting Top 5 marks. Frida Esparza got UCLA started onto a meet-best 49.175 on uneven bars by scoring 9.875 in the first rotation, tying for third place. Sara Ulias recorded a career-high 9.850 to start on floor exercise, good for a tie for fifth place. Freshman Ana Padurariu placed third with her leadoff beam score of 9.900, which helped lead the Bruins to a season-best 49.275 on the event.

UCLA's heralded freshman class is making big contributions so far this season, with 44% of the Bruins' routines (21 of 48) coming from that class alone. Emma Malabuyo has competed seven routines, second only to senior Norah Flatley's eight. Malabuyo made her all-around debut on Sunday at Oregon State and placed third with a 39.100. On Sunday, UCLA's top marks on vault (9.875 from Jordan Chiles), uneven bars (9.925 from Jordan Chiles) and balance beam (9.900 from Ana Padurariu) came from freshmen. In the season opener at Minnesota on Jan. 17, Brooklyn Moors provided the Bruins' top mark on floor exercise (9.875) and second-highest mark on vault (9.850).

After missing the entire 2021 regular season with an ankle injury, senior Norah Flatley is back at full strength for 2022, competing in the all-around in both of the Bruins' competitions so far. In the season opener, Flatley scored 39.225 to place third in her first all-around competition since the second meet of her freshman campaign. During warmups of the Bruins' 2021 season opener, Flatley injured her ankle and did not return until she competed on uneven bars at the Pac-12 Championships, where she scored 9.875. She returned to balance beam at the NCAA Regionals and scored 9.875 on day one and 9.900 on day two. Flatley earned All-America honors on uneven bars as a freshman in 2019 and is a two-time All-Pac-12 selection on beam. She holds career-bests of 9.975 on bars and 9.950 on beam and floor.

UCLA returns four Pac-12 champions in Chae Campbell (floor), Margzetta Frazier (bars), Pauline Tratz (floor) and Sekai Wright (vault). Campbell went on to earn All-America honors in the all-around, beam and floor, and Frazier picked up her third consecutive All-America honor on uneven bars. The Bruins return 20 of 24 routines from their 2021 postseason squad. The freshman class, ranked No. 2 nationally by College Gym News, is led by Olympic silver medalist Jordan Chiles, Canadian Olympian Brooklyn Moors, Olympic alternate Emma Malabuyo and World beam medalist Ana Padurariu, all of whom deferred enrollment a year ago while training for the delayed Olympics. The Bruins went 14-7 overall in 2021 and finished third at the NCAA Morgantown Regional.

The Bruins regained the services of fifth-year seniors Kendal Poston and Pauline Tratz when the pair opted to return for an extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their leadership and experience will be a huge asset for a Bruin team that has six freshmen and just five athletes who have competed at the NCAA Championships. Poston and Tratz are the last remaining Bruins from their last NCAA Championship squad in 2018. Poston, a three-time Scholastic All-American, competed on vault and beam in every meet in 2021 and has career-high marks of 9.9 on those two events. She delivered a season-best 9.875 on beam at Oregon State to place fifth. Tratz, the 2021 Pac-12 Gymnastics Scholar-Athlete of the Year, earned All-Pac-12 honors on floor in both 2018 and 2021 and earned a share of the Pac-12 floor title last season. Tratz's top marks are 9.95 on floor, 9.925 on vault and 9.775 on bars. She earned a team-best 9.875 on floor to place fourth at Oregon State on Sunday.

Before arriving to Westwood for their freshman season, a trio of Bruins spent part of their summer in Tokyo at the 2020 Olympics. Jordan Chiles, who deferred enrollment two seasons to pursue her Olympic dream after originally signing her national letter of intent in November 2018, made her dream a reality by being selected to the U.S. team in June 2021 after third-place finishes and eight-for-eight performances at both the U.S. Championships and the Olympic Trials. Chiles memorably stepped in unexpectedly with hit routines on bars and beam during the team final in place of teammate Simone Biles, who was unable to compete. Emma Malabuyo deferred enrollment for a year after the Olympics were delayed, and her UCLA postponement also paid off, as she was named an alternate for the U.S. squad after a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Championships and a ninth-place finish at the Trials. Brooklyn Moors redshirted in 2021, enrolling remotely while she continued to train in Canada for the Olympics. She qualified for the all-around final at the Olympics, finishing 16th overall. Also joining the three freshmen in Tokyo was UCLA alumna Danusia Francis, who represented Jamaica as an individual competitor.

Arizona posted a 195.500 in the season opener, paced by Malia Hargrove's all-around winning score of 39.200. The Wildcats are ranked 33rd nationally overall and 22nd on balance beam, averaging 48.963 on the event, with a high of 49.225. Hargrove qualified to the NCAA Championships a year ago as an individual competitor on floor exercise.

Seven returners, including five members of this year's senior class, earned WCGA Scholastic All-America honors in 2021. Pauline Tratz (Communications) earned her fourth honor, while Kendal Poston (Political Science), Samantha Sakti (Psychology) and Sara Taubman (Human Biology & Society) were selected for the third time and Norah Flatley (Political Science) for the first. Also receiving Scholastic All-America honors were junior Paige Hogan (Environmental Science) and sophomore Sara Ulias (Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology). The WCGA Scholastic All-America team recognizes gymnasts who carry a 3.5 or higher cumulative grade point average or a 3.5 grade point average for the academic year.

The Bruins will host No. 2 Utah on Friday, Feb. 4 at 7pm in a meet nationally-televised on ESPN.