With the judges relying on a teammate’s score, UCLA’s Jordan Chiles was forced to wait before a stressful lightning routine. She passed the time the only way a UCLA gymnast would know how.
Chiles began to clap to the background music, extending her arms over her head to the beat. It didn’t take long for the crowds gathered at Pauley Pavilion to come together.
After conquering the elite world, winning Olympic and world medals, Chiles is dominating the collegiate ranks with an effortless, contagious joy that propelled her to the top of the country’s all-around charts on Saturday.
The Olympic silver medalist’s career-high 39.9 overall score propelled UCLA to a season-best 198.275 in its win over Iowa State (195.55) in Saturday’s regular season finale in Pauley Pavilion. The No. 5 Bruins have scored over 198 in consecutive games for the first time since 2019 and posted the sixth-highest team score in program history.
Chiles tied Jamie Dantzscher for the second-highest overall score at UCLA and has improved his career bests in three straight meetings. When Chiles was announced as the season’s leading scorer after the match, the sophomore wiped her eyes before waving to the crowd and blowing kisses into the stands.
“To be able to know that I got a 39.9 is something incredible,” Chiles said. “People have been asking this year, are we going to get a 40 this year, are we going to get a 40? But obviously I’m getting up to that point.”
After competing in every meet this season, Chiles was supposed to rest some events on Saturday. But he sensed in his gut that the team was on its way to a great score. He approached coach Janelle McDonald to claim her spot in the lineup, and McDonald relented.
“She works very hard, she’s really intentional in the gym to do what she has to do to keep moving forward and keep building, so it’s not at all surprising to me when she comes here with such confidence,” McDonald said. “The bottom line is that she feels great, she’s working hard and I wanted to give her the opportunity to do it if she felt ready to do it.”
Chiles, who will defer her studies at UCLA to next year while she trains for the Paris Olympics, has competed in 40 routines this season. Only five have scored below 9.9 and 15 in a row have been 9.925 or better, including two straight 10s on the bars.
Chiles isn’t just setting the tone for the Bruins with his scoring. The Vancouver, Washington native leads the home crowd in dances during breaks between events and gives pep talks to his teammates before competing.
Before Margzetta Frazier stepped onto the court for her routine, Chiles reminded the fifth-year senior who was last competing in a regular-season home game to just breathe. Chiles promised to help Frazier through every step of the floor routine of her running from her to meet her around every corner after every tumbling pass. Chiles did not care that she was the next to compete.
Frazier nailed his floor routine with a 9.9, extending his streak of consecutive successful routines to 119 in five years. She was one of five seniors honored after meeting Kalyany Steele, Chloe Lashbrooke, Emma Andres, and Paige Hogan.
Steele competed on bars, scoring 9.875, and Lashbrooke’s 9.875 on floor counted toward UCLA’s final event score. Andrés had season debuts on beam and floor in exhibition routines.
Frazier tried to hold back tears as he hugged the coaches after the game. She was honored as a senior last year, but she did not compete due to a broken foot. Her five-year career has spanned three coaching tenures, with Frazier joining the Bruins when they were a national powerhouse, overcoming the rocky transition from Valorie Kondos Field to Chris Waller, and now celebrating the program’s return to the national stage under McDonald.
“We’re not playing games right now,” Frazier said. “We have a lot of fun and dance, but Janelle has us working out at the gym.”
As his career draws to a close, Frazier didn’t claim to be passing the leadership torch to his younger teammates. All gymnasts are leaders.
“It’s really not a torch to pass on,” said the 2021 Pac-12 bars champion. “It’s more to put the foundation thicker and thicker every year so we don’t have cracks.
“Any torch you want to hand over,” Frazier added, “is to wear your lip gloss.”
Before Chiles and Frazier began their post-meeting press conference, the senior handed Chiles a tube of lip gloss.