UCLA Gymnastics Travels to Stanford for Top 20 Matchup
BRUINS TRAVEL TO STANFORD FOR SATURDAY SHOWDOWN
No. 16 UCLA (2-4, 1-2 in conference play) hits the road this week to take on No. 19 Stanford (1-5, 1-2) on Saturday, Feb. 12 in Stanford, Calif. The meet will be streamed live on Pac-12 Insider at 2pm PT.
LAST TIME OUT
Facing No. 3 Utah on an ESPN2 nationally-televised meet Feb. 4, No. 22 UCLA rose to the occasion and delivered season-high team totals on all four events, scoring 197.650 to smash its season-best score by 1.25 points. The Utes edged the Bruins, however, by just one-tenth of a point, thanks to a 9.975 by Maile O'Keefe on beam to clinch the win. UCLA freshman Jordan Chiles won the all-around with a score of 39.700 and scored a perfect 10 on floor exercise. She also recorded season-highs on all four events, adding a 9.875 on vault, 9.925 on uneven bars and 9.900 on balance beam. Chiles' perfect 10 was the first on floor exercise by a Bruin since Gracie Kramer's 10 on Jan. 31, 2020 and the first by any Bruin since Kyla Ross' 10 on vault on Mar. 8, 2020. Chiles' Olympic teammate Grace McCallum also scored her first career perfect 10 for the Utes, hitting a perfect routine on uneven bars in the opening rotation. UCLA recorded season-bests of 49.275 on vault, 49.450 on uneven bars, 49.325 on balance beam and 49.600 on floor exercise.
PERFECTION IN PAULEY
Freshman Jordan Chiles scored UCLA's first perfect 10 of the season, hitting the mark on floor exercise against Utah on Feb. 4. The perfect 10 was the Bruins' first since Kyla Ross scored a 10 on vault on Mar. 8, 2020 and the program's first on floor exercise since Gracie Kramer on Jan. 31, 2020, a meet that Chiles attended. The 2020 Olympic medalist is the first UCLA freshman to score a perfect 10 on any event since Kyla Ross on beam in 2017 and the first Bruin rookie to score a 10 on floor since Tasha Schwikert in 2005.
BRUINS STEADILY IMPROVING
UCLA has improved week to week throughout the season, with each meet seeing improved scores. Last week against Utah, the Bruins improved upon their previous season high score from a week prior by 1.25 points and jumped their opening week score by 3.3 points. UCLA had a season-best nine 9.9+ scores in the meet, including four on floor exercise. The Bruins also received their first 9.95 scores of the year with a 9.95 from Norah Flatley on uneven bars and a 10.0 from Jordan Chiles on floor exercise.
FRESHMEN MAKING BIG CONTRIBUTIONS
UCLA's heralded freshman class is making big contributions so far this season, with 45.8% of the Bruins' routines (44 of 96) coming from that class alone. Emma Malabuyo has competed 13 routines, tied with sophomore Chae Campbell for second on the squad behind only senior Norah Flatley's 16. Malabuyo, who made her all-around debut at Oregon State (Jan. 23 - 3rd - 39.100), also placed tied for third with a season-best 39.250 against Arizona (Jan. 30). Freshmen led the way for the Bruins on beam and floor against Utah, with Chiles' perfect 10 on floor and 9.9s from Chiles and Ana Padurariu on beam. Against Arizona, UCLA's top marks on uneven bars (9.900 from Jordan Chiles) and balance beam (9.925 from Malabuyo) came from freshmen. At Oregon State, UCLA's top marks on vault (9.875 from Chiles), uneven bars (9.925 from Chiles) and balance beam (9.900 from Ana Padurariu) also 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).
BRUINS ARE BEAMING
UCLA's top event this year has been balance beam, as the Bruins rank No. 10 in the nation with a 49.194 average. Leading the way for UCLA on beam, literally, has been leadoff performer Ana Padurariu, who has posted three consecutive scores of 9.900. Padurariu averages 9.881 and ranks 27th nationally and sixth in the Pac-12. Freshmen comprised the first four spots in the lineup on beam last week, with Padurariu, Emma Malabuyo, Jordan Chiles and Brooklyn Moors. Padurariu, Chiles (9.825) and Moors (9.863) all average over 9.825 on the year. The Bruins have recorded six scores of 9.9 or higher on beam this season.
FLOOR SQUAD MAKES STATEMENT
UCLA's floor squad made a big statement last week against Utah, scoring a season-high 49.600 with four scores of 9.925 or higher - 10.00 from Jordan Chiles and 9.925s from Norah Flatley, Pauline Tratz and Chae Campbell. The Bruin floor routines are an impeccable mix of showmanship, artistry and diverse and difficult tumbling. Each Bruin in last week's lineup tumbled a different opening pass - Flatley with a triple full, Sekai Wright with a 2.5 twist/punch front, Brooklyn Moors with a front handspring double front, Tratz with a double pike, Chiles with a double layout and Campbell with a full-in. The Bruins have two floor routines that have gone viral already this season - Wright's DMX tribute and Chiles' perfect 10 routine, which was shared by musical artists Lizzo, Normani and Cardi B.
FLATLEY BACK AT FULL STRENGTH
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 all four of the Bruins' competitions so far. Flatley has posted career-highs in each of her last two meets, going 39.450 against Arizona on Jan. 30 and then improving to 39.525 against Utah on Feb. 4. She also earned season-highs on uneven bars (9.950) and floor exercise (9.925) in the Utah meet and a career-high 9.850 on vault in the Arizona meet. Prior to this season, Flatley had only competed all-around once, in her second collegiate meet in 2019, and vault twice, in the first two meets of 2019. She currently holds the Bruins' second-highest season average on vault (9.813). 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.
ABOUT THE BRUINS
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.
SUPER SENIORS RETURN
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 (Jan. 23) and scored a season-high 9.925 on floor against Utah (Feb. 4), with one of the two judges issuing a perfect 10 on the routine.
FROM TOKYO TO WESTWOOD
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.
SCOUTING THE CARDINAL
After a 2021 season that started in late February due to COVID protocols in Santa Clara County that affected training, Stanford has rebounded impressively in 2022 with a Top 20 national ranking. The Cardinal currently rank 19th with a season average of 196.063 and a season-high of 196.275. Super senior Kyla Bryant is the Pac-12's fifth-ranked all-arounder with an average of 39.438 and a season-high of 39.675. In the national rankings, Bryant ranks 22nd in the all-around and 17th on floor exercise. Stanford has two Olympians on its squad - Isabela Onyshko from Canada (2016) and Sze En Tan from Singapore (2020).
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 hit the road to face No. 21 Arizona State on Sunday, Feb. 20 at 2pm on the Pac-12 Networks.