When the UCLA gymnastics team visited Haas Pavilion to face Cal on Feb. 18, everyone in the building won in some way. Fans got to see some of the best gymnastics in the nation. Athletes recorded career- and season-best scores across the board. Coaches on each side saw their team put forth solid performances and reach a season-high mark.
The biggest winners of the afternoon, however, were most likely the Fraziers. Four years apart, Cal freshman eMjae Frazier and UCLA senior Margzetta Frazier had never competed in the same meet and would not have — the latter taking a fifth year made it possible. With one sister on each side of the mat, the Fraziers received the best possible outcome: a tie.
‘Front-row seats to watch my sister’
The Fraziers had extra reason to celebrate: eMjae not only won the all-around after closing the meet with a near-perfect 9.975 on floor but also tied Cal’s program record with a total score of 39.7. The floor routine also brought the two teams to a tie and maintained the Bears’ undefeated record.
“To be a freshman, to have that kind of pressure where she knows we need a hit routine, you’ve got your sister on the other team, there’s been how many stories and articles all week leading up to this, I was wondering how she might handle that pressure,” said co-head coach Justin Howell. “(She) handled it beautifully — went four for four for really the first time (and) won the all-around.”
After starting her college career with 9.95s on beam and floor at the Super 16 meet, eMjae added a 9.95 on vault at the Bears’ home opener against Stanford on Jan. 28. The freshman had not scored higher than 9.8 on bars before Saturday when she hit for a 9.95. Coupled with a 9.875 on vault, a 9.9 on beam and her 9.975 on floor, that was enough to give her a 39.7 and the all-around title.
She said having her sister on the other side of the mat helped her feel more comfortable, “like I was back at home with my gym and having my sister be my only teammate.”
The older Frazier had a meet of her own, recording a 9.825 on vault, a 9.9 on bars and a 9.925 on floor. Though it was evident she was able to stay in her team’s “Bruin bubble,” Margzetta said she peeked at her sister’s routines when she could.
“I felt like I was at a meet and I get front-row seats to watch my sister,” she said. “I’m never competitive with my sister, especially. I want to see her do things a million times more grand than I’ve ever done.”
The Fraziers found themselves competing back to back more often than not throughout the afternoon, making it difficult to watch each other’s routines. With UCLA finished with its beam rotation, however, Margzetta was able to fully enjoy eMjae’s floor routine.
For the final performance of the meet, all eyes were on the Cal freshman. In addition to her sister and her team, eMjae had UCLA sophomore Jordan Chiles on the sidelines — the Olympian threw up 10s at the close of the routine. Margzetta agreed, saying “it should have gotten a 10, so I don’t know who I’m going to have to talk to.”
“We both just went out here and did our best today, and I’m really proud of my sister,” eMjae said after the meet. “UCLA has been very supportive of me through my whole journey here, and they were cheering for us and being super, super supportive.”
‘A little gift from above’
After missing most of the 2022 season because of a broken foot, Margzetta returned to the Bruins for a fifth year to close her gymnastics career on a higher note. Though it paved the way for the Frazier faceoff, the possibility of competing alongside her sister had no bearing on her decision.
“I didn’t have a senior year. … That’s a horrible way to end, and I didn’t want to hate gymnastics or have regrets,” she said. “Competing with eMjae, it just further validates my decision because that’s so cool. That’s like a little gift from above.”
2023 may not be the older Frazier’s last season competing, however. Margzetta has another year of eligibility — in addition to last season’s redshirt, the COVID-19 pandemic gave her an extra year. She hasn’t decided whether she will use it, admitting the season is putting extra strain on her body (“I definitely feel my age,” she says).
If she does use her extra year, the UCLA faithful can rest assured that Margzetta will stay in Westwood. The fifth-year has no plans to transfer, though she does have eyes on potentially studying dance in graduate school.
More than 350 miles north, eMjae has three more seasons after this one. Over six meets, the freshman has notched at least one 9.95 on every event, and it appears likely she’ll have a perfect 10 before the season ends.
“I’ve been working really hard in the gym, and to start seeing progress and seeing that hard work come out and show what I’ve been doing, it feels great,” eMjae said after Saturday’s meet. “There’s just so much more that I’m capable of, and I’m glad that I showed a really good glimpse of it today, and I’m going to keep pushing and keep getting better.”
For the next three years, Cal fans and the Fraziers alike will have front-row seats to the freshman’s progression. Her performance Saturday earned eMjae her second Pac-12 award, Freshman of the Week, but it almost definitely won’t be her last.