For the fifth time this season, the Cal men’s gymnastics team will face off against No. 2 Stanford. The No. 9 Bears have fallen in every competition against the Cardinal and have yet to find much of a footing against the squad.
And Saturday, Cal will face Stanford when it travels to Burnham Pavilion at Stanford for the International Collegiate Challenge. But this time, the two teams will be joined by a couple of others. But these opponents won’t only be collegiate teams. Instead, three national teams from across the world will compete against the Bears and the Cardinal.
“This weekend is a very unique opportunity in that Stanford is hosting an international competition, in addition to a traditional collegiate meet,” said Cal head coach Brett McClure. “So we will be able to see Japan, Finland, Canada — it’s going to be very, very exciting.”
Senior co-captains Kevin Wolting and Kyle Zemeir will mostly be sitting this weekend after taking part in the Winter Cup Challenge in Las Vegas, finishing 12th and 20th, respectively. The Challenge helped determine the 15 men who comprise the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team through the 2016 P&G Championships in the beginning of June, but neither was selected.
McClure decided to rest the team leaders to make sure that they are ready for the postseason and get the necessary rest. The experience the freshmen and sophomores will get competing against national teams will also be incredibly beneficial.
Among the gymnasts getting more exposure this weekend will be freshman Aaron Mah, who will be competing against his own country’s national team in Canada.
But overall, the goal of the meet is to get experience for the younger athletes and move things forward for the postseason, especially getting the overall hit percentage of the team moving up.
“It’s valuable because a lot of the guys on our team have aspirations to compete on the international stage,” McClure said. “It gives them a sense of belonging to know they can compete with the world’s best and give them that confidence to plan and train hard on a daily basis and go out there and experience a national team.”