Expectations for the No. 15 Cal women’s gymnastics team have never been higher than they are now. The Bears are reaching unfamiliar territory after making history for two straight weeks.
The most recent historic performance for Cal came Monday against Arizona State, when the Bears set their best-ever road score with a 196.900.
But the road trip for the Bears isn’t over quite yet, as they’ll travel up north Saturday to face No. 16 Oregon State.
“Knowing that we can compete well on the road gives us a lot of confidence heading into this weekend,” said Cal head coach Justin Howell. “The performance and the score that they got proved that they could handle any situation.”
Sophomore Toni-Ann Williams will once again look to lead the Bears this weekend, which won’t be an issue one bit if she can carry over Monday’s performance. Williams is coming off one of the best performances of her career against the Sun Devils, in which she tied her all-around career high with a 39.700. She performed well, earning a 9.90 or better in all four events and taking every single event title in the process.
Monday’s historic performance didn’t go unnoticed by the Pac-12, who awarded her shortly after with Pac-12 Gymnast of the Week. This was not only her third Gymnast of the Week honor of her career, but her second one this season alone.
The heart of Cal’s success, however, has lied in the ability of everyone to contribute. Bears such as freshman Sofie Seilnacht, who was one of the main forces for Cal on beam Monday and finished with a career-high 9.85, and junior Zoe Draghi, who never complained about having to fight through painful back spasms all last week, entering the meet against Arizona State. Draghi put the team first and was rewarded with strong scores such as a 9.875 on floor.
It was Cal’s performance on beam especially that was surprising Monday, considering that the Bears set a new program record of 49.325 on the one event that had been their shakiest all year.
Cal’s beam performance this weekend will once again be vital to whether or not the Bears can continue their historic success.
Unlike the Bears, Oregon State is coming off a lost to a team Cal beat earlier this season, UCLA. But all’s not lost for the Beavers, considering that they finished with their second highest score of the season, 196.225.
And it’s not hard to find athletes on Oregon State’s roster who can easily give the Bears problems Saturday. At the top of the pack is junior Kaytianna McMillan, who led the Beavers against UCLA with season highs on all three of her events. This included an individual event title on the uneven bars, where she finished with career-high 9.925.
Still, all of Oregon State’s athletes’ performances will mean nothing if the Bears can continue exceeding expectations.
“At this point in the season the competitions really a part of the workout plan,” Howell said. “We just need to feed off of what we did Monday night, and fix some minor details so we can have another great performance this weekend.”
Alex Quintana covers softball. Contact him at [email protected]