Following a campaign in which the Bruins missed the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2006, a group of new and returning gymnasts will try to launch them back into the title hunt.
No. 8 UCLA gymnastics’ season will officially begin Jan. 8 with the Collegiate Challenge versus Arizona, Cal and Oregon State, but on Friday, the Bruins put on “Meet the Bruins” at Pauley Pavilion – an intrasquad preview showcasing the roster for the 2022 slate of meets. The event allowed fans to take a look at how the Bruins could line up for rotations as they enter the new year.
Joining the Bruins in 2022 will be some high-profile freshmen, some of whom are fresh off of their 2020 Tokyo Olympics journey.
Jordan Chiles may be the smallest on the team at 4-foot-11, but she is already more than accomplished on the international stage. Chiles grabbed the attention of American fans after subbing in for Simone Biles during the team all-around finals, competing in all four rotations and earning a silver medal in the process.
Brooklyn Moors, a Canadian international, was an all-around finalist at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and redshirted the 2021 campaign to train for said Olympics. Emma Malabuyo was an alternate for the United States in Tokyo, while Ana Padurariu won silver on beam for Canada in the 2018 World Championships and Emily Lee competed in the 2020 Olympic trials for Team USA.
Freshmen Mia Erdoes and Alexis Jeffrey may not have the same international experience, but they both carry high-placing finishes on the uneven bars during competition.
Back in blue and gold are four individual Pac-12 champions, among other veterans.
Sophomore Chae Campbell and senior Pauline Tratz won individual awards for floor, while senior Margzetta Frazier won for uneven bars and senior Sekai Wright was the vault champion.
Senior Norah Flatley returns as well after recording a team-high 9,900 on the beam at the NCAA Regional final last season, as does senior Kendal Poston, who recorded personal bests of 9,900 on vault and beam last campaign.
Returning to try and repeat as First Team All-Pac-12 on beam is Samantha Sakti, while Frida Esparza will attempt to earn All-Pac-12 honors once again for the uneven bars.
Transferring in from Washington, sophomore Katie McNamara will get some action as well, competing in all-around for nine consecutive meets to end her freshman campaign with the Huskies.
At Meet the Bruins, Campbell and Moors did not compete due to a back injury and illness, respectively, but there was still a broader scope on how the Bruins could start off their first competitive rotations in January.
Chiles, Frazier, Jeffrey, Malubuyo, Poston and Tratz competed on vault during the event. On the uneven bars, sophomore Sara Ulias and senior Sara Taubman debuted alongside seven other Bruins in the event. Frazier and Flatley both won on bars, which could signal an early entry in the first rotations of the season.
Padurariu, Sakti and Chiles also succeeded later in the contest, gaining points for their team on the beam rotation. Chiles competed in all four events Friday, something that could be normal for the freshman in 2022.
On floor, Chiles debuted her Olympic package in Pauley Pavilion, but also stated that it would be her last time performing the routine.
The Gold team wound up beating the Blue team 8-7 in the scrimmage, with Flatley, Frazier and Ulias leading their side to the victory.
Bruin fans will have Chiles’ new floor routine and much more to look forward to on Jan. 8 when the Collegiate Challenge takes place in Anaheim.
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