For the first time all season, the Cal men’s and women’s gymnastics teams have meets on the very same day, with start times only an hour apart from each other. Both of these meets will take place Saturday, as each team travels away from Berkeley to compete.
The No. 19 Cal women’s gymnastics team will head east to face Pac-12 rival Arizona. The No. 6 Cal men’s gymnastics team, on the other hand, will travel to Stanford in order to compete in the Collegiate Challenge. The Collegiate Challenge will feature No. 4 Stanford, No. 9 Minnesota and the tough national teams of Japan and Canada. Both teams will be looking to make a statement Saturday as they travel away from home.
The women’s team last competed Saturday, when they traveled to Washington to face off against the Huskies and Seattle Pacific. The Bears made a statement by finishing with a new season-high team score of 196.600, which was the fourth-highest score ever recorded in school history.
The Bears have two main goals heading into Saturday’s meet against No. 20 Arizona. Their first goal is to continue improving on the balance beam, which has been their most inconsistent event of the season. Cal finished its last meet with a new balance beam high score of 48.875, highlighted by a career-high score of 9.900 by sophomore Desiree Palomares.
Cal will be looking to put up another strong balance-beam score this weekend against Arizona. Another goal for the Bears will be to continue their domination in the floor exercise. Cal has been sensational all season when it comes to the floor exercise — in fact, they’re currently ranked No. 9 in the nation when it comes to this event. Freshman Toni-Ann Williams is leading the way for her team on floor with a season average score of 9.928, making her the top gymnast in the country for this event.
“In every competition, we go into floor with a lot of confidence and the ability to just have a lot of fun,” said head coach Justin Howell. “So I would say that’s definitely a strength of ours this season.”
The Cal men’s team also has plenty of things to be happy about this season, especially when it comes to the accomplishments of junior Kevin Wolting. Wolting recently finished sixth at the 2015 Winter Cup Challenge, which earned him a spot on the U.S. Senior National Team. But this weekend, the Bears will be resting Wolting, which will force others to step up in his absence. There’s definitely a lot on the line this weekend, especially when it comes to gymnasts who are still trying to solidify their spots on the roster.
“(It) gives opportunities for guys who are trying to make the lineup,” said head coach Brett McClure. “The focus this weekend is, here’s a shot — go ahead and take it and run with it, or your spot might be in jeopardy.”
Alex Quintana covers gymnastics. Contact him at [email protected]