10 November 2016 was NCAA gymnastics signing day for the class of 2021.
The big name of the day was USA National Team member Nia Dennis, who officially signed with UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) for the 2017-18 season.
Dennis, 17, from Westerville, Ohio, was the junior all-around silver medallist at the 2014 P&G National Championships, as well as the gold medallist on vault and floor. Dennis turned senior in 2015, finishing ninth in the all around at the P&G Championships that year. Frustrated with her results over the past two years, in summer 2015 Dennis decided to leave her long time elite coach Kittia Carpenter at Buckeye (who also coached Gabby Douglas in her post-London comeback), and to move to Chicago to train with Jiani Wu and Yuejiu Li, coaches and parents of the 2012 Olympic alternate Anna Li, who was also a UCLA Bruin. Wu and Li are known for producing very good bar workers, as well as promising NCAA gymnasts: Anna Li herself and sisters Mackenzie and Bridget Caquatto (Florida) were all successful bar workers in their elite careers and very good level 10 all around gymnasts. The future looks exciting for Nia Dennis at UCLA!
Also signing with the Bruins was German National Team member Pauline Tratz.
Pauline Tratz at UCLA. Photograph: UCLA Gymnastics
Tratz, 17, competed for Germany at the 2015 World Championships and at the 2016 Rio Test Event, where she helped the team qualify for the Olympic Games in second place. Tratz will make a good level 10 all arounder, and will help the Bruins especially on vault, their weak apparatus. It is very nice to see UCLA become such an international environment!
Good luck to both ladies!
Watch here Nia Dennis’ impressive floor routine at the 2014 P&G Championships, and here her uneven bars routine at the 2016 P&G Championships, just a few months after rupturing her Achilles tendon.
Watch here Pauline Tratz’s vault at the 2016 Rio Test Event.Advertisement
By Talitha Ilacqua
By Talitha Ilacqua