For the second consecutive week, the No. 7 Cal men’s gymnastics team finished in third place in a meet against higher ranked competition. This time it just happened to be on the road.
Competing in Norman, Oklahoma on Saturday, the Bears finished with 425.850 points, behind No. 1 Oklahoma, 447.400, and No. 6 Iowa, 426.950. Despite scoring above the total of 425.300 from its third-place finish against Stanford and Ohio State, Cal was still unable to score enough to defeat either team, continuing its early struggles against top-ranked teams.
The meet featured younger competitors for the Bears once again, including sophomore Yordan Aleksandrov, who competed in every event besides the pommel horse. Aleksandrov posted above a 14.000 in almost every event he competed in, including a 14.800 on high bar.
Despite ending the meet with a team-high score of the day, 73.050, on vault, with no Bear scoring under 14.000, the effort wasn’t enough after their performance on rings proved to be especially detrimental to the team’s ability to pull close enough to its competitors. Cal scored just 69.400 on the event, compared to Oklahoma’s 76.050.
Individually for the Bears, senior co-captains Kyle Zemeir and Kevin Wolting competed in the all-around competition, but the two finished in the last two spots in that side of the competition and were the only competitors in the all-around portion to finish with less than 86.000 points.
While the team was unable to combat some of its woes from the last meet and are continuing to come short of their potential against top teams, Cal will get more opportunities this year to face similarly impressive opponents. Getting within almost a point of Iowa and having some of their best performances of the season shows that the Bears are continuing to grow and perhaps gives them an advantage in the future as they hope to stay with these highly ranked teams.
Promising performances from newcomers, such as freshman Aaron Mah who scored at least 14.300 on each event he participated in, including a career-high on high bar, 14.750, should give Cal confidence for the season and the future.
While the results of this weekend’s competition may not have been what Cal hoped for, they are encouragingly continuing to keep it close against higher ranked competitors. Whether or not the Bears can improve and change their ranking for the better is still to be determined.