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‘A fitting ending’: Cal women’s gymnastics, UCLA tie with season bests

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Senior Staff

FEBRUARY 21, 2023

The storylines entering Saturday’s meet between Cal women’s gymnastics and UCLA were endless. Sisters eMjae and Margzetta Frazier competing on opposite teams and facing off for the first time. UCLA head coach Janelle McDonald returning to Haas Pavilion, where she coached the “Bears on Bars” for four seasons before moving south last year. The No. 6 Bruins and the No. 7 Bears fighting for a conference win to contend for the regular-season Pac-12 title.

Record crowds filled the highest stands of Haas Pavilion to watch the narratives unfold. And the Cal faithful were far from disappointed, witnessing standout performances and a dramatic finale. With the final routine of the afternoon, Cal freshman eMjae Frazier secured a 197.975-197.975 tie for her team, the all-around win, a share of the floor title and two school records.

Frazier’s 9.975 tied teammate sophomore Mya Lauzon for the event win and the highest floor score in program history, a mark last reached in 2021. With a 9.95 on bars and 9.9 on beam, the freshman posted a school record-tying 39.7 in the all-around, joining Lauzon, who achieved the score two weeks prior.

“I went out and had fun. I’ve been so close to having the routine I really wanted, and I was pretty much there. I’m really, really close,” Frazier said about her floor routine. “I finished this routine, I had fun, I got the crowd going and it was great. I love pressure.”

The two teams ended the first rotation tied after Cal recorded a 49.4 on vault to keep pace with UCLA on bars, one of the few lineups that can rival the “Bears on Bars” thanks to McDonald’s expertise. Cal answered with a season-high 49.65 on bars — good for second in school history — to take the lead halfway through.

The Bears also took home the individual titles on the first two events: Lauzon captured the vault crown with a career-high 9.95, while sophomore Maddie Williams tallied her second 9.975 on bars this year to win the event.

Despite a program record-tying 49.525 beam rotation, Cal saw its lead shrink, as one of the best floor teams in the country put on a show for the crowd en route to a 49.65. The Bears displayed a continuation of their increase in difficulty, as sophomore Gabby Perea’s routine included a standing full — a backflip with a full twist.

“She may be the only person in the NCAA doing that right now,” said co-head coach Justin Howell. “(Co-head coach) Liz (Crandall-Howell) told her, ‘If we set you up with five hits and we have a good total, let’s go for it.’ ”

Each team then headed to an event it has stumbled on this year — floor for Cal and beam for UCLA — to close the afternoon. The Bruins won their battle against the beam, recording five 9.9-plus scores for a season-high 49.625. With scores of 9.95, freshman Selena Harris and sophomore Jordan Chiles tied for the beam title — UCLA’s only individual wins Saturday.

The Bears, on the other hand, stumbled on floor. A rough landing earned Perea a 9.025 to start the rotation, and a step out of bounds gave senior Nevaeh DeSouza a 9.675 in the second spot, erasing Cal’s lead. The rest of the lineup put forth performances solid enough to save the meet for Cal: Williams turned the page with a 9.875, and a 9.9 from Andi Li set the groundwork for Lauzon’s and Frazier’s 9.975s.

“We need to work on making sure that we don’t let the moment get bigger — you know, ‘We’re winning the meet. Oh, we’re going to get a 198,’ and I think maybe there was a little bit of that,” Howell said. “You’d always love the outright win, but we got a great score, great crowd and, you know, maybe a fitting ending with two sisters (and) Janelle being back here.”

The score of 197.975 was both teams’ best this year and moved UCLA and Cal into No. 5 and No. 6 in the national rankings, respectively. Saturday also brought a third tie into the Pac-12, both the Bruins and the Bears having tied Oregon State earlier this season. With No. 4 Utah’s Monday loss to Arizona State, the race for the regular-season Pac-12 title hangs in the balance. The Bears are the sole undefeated team in the conference but face their highest-ranked opponent Friday as they travel to Utah.

Contact Jocelyn Huang at  or on Twitter


FEBRUARY 21, 2023