The blue and gold of the basketball court was barely visible Sunday afternoon beneath the chalk-covered blue mats at Haas Pavilion. The No. 7 Cal men’s gymnastics team hosted tri-meet against No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 5 Stanford before a diverse crowd that filled the stands.
After an afternoon-long contest, the Sooners defended their top seed with a score of 351.6. The Bears finished second with 349.4, right ahead of the third-place Cardinal at 343.7.
Competing side-by-side with a women’s dual meet against Stanford, the three top-10 men’s teams rotated from one event to the next as a group. The teams even acted as their own cheerleaders, pumping up their respective cheering sections with chants that continued throughout the three-hour long competition.
The Bears started off the meet strong on the still rings, but junior Steven Lacombe was unable to stick his landing and fell, costing him valuable points. Lacombe made up for his trouble later, however, when he landed perfectly after his jump on the vault.
On the parallel bars, Donothan Bailey had a clean dismount, which was accompanied by huge cheers from his teammates. Senior Nic Blair gave one of the best high bar performances of the day with multiple one-handed transitions and a clean finish. The Bears’ team high bar performance was the best of any of their events.
The third rotation brought the Bears to the pommel horse, which was one of the most anticipated events of the competition. Cal senior Glen Ishino, a United States men’s gymnastics team member, was coming off of one of his best performances last week at the Winter Cup in Las Vegas and had another strong showing Sunday.
Coach Tim McNeill had predicted that the Bear’s floor routine would be exciting. The event also happened to be crucial, as the close scores following the second rotation were announced as the Bears began on the floor, with Cal in the lead. The Bears held a total score of 115.5, followed by Oklahoma with 115.2 and finally Stanford with a score of 113.9.
For Oklahoma, highlights were abundant. Danny Berardini’s high bar performance was capped off with a perfect dismount. The high bar and floor routines were nearly flawless, as the Sooners showed why they hold the No. 1 spot in the rankings. The only scare for the Sooners came on the last event — Oklahoma junior Jacob Dalton fell on the last vault run of the day, putting the Sooners’ win at risk.
The Cardinal had their share of great performances as well. Junior James Fosco completed his second and final event with a cheer-rendering release on the still rings. Stanford’s team effort on the pommel horse was strong as well, but in the end, the Cardinal came up short.
Cal will meet Stanford for the fifth and final time on Saturday in Palo Alto, before a long break leading up to the MPSF Championships on April 7.