Almost everyone expected the No. 14 Cal women’s gymnastics team to beat UC Davis and Sacramento State Friday night in its regular season finale, but what no one expected was for them to shatter the record books while doing it. The Bears were on absolute fire in their last meet before the Pac-12 Championships, finishing the day with a new program-high score of 197.500. This was well above the 195.975 posted by the hosting Aggies and 195.425 by the Hornets.
“I was certainly happy with breaking the school record, but I’m most happy with the confidence level we displayed,” said Cal head coach Justin Howell. “It was truly a team effort, so I was most pleased with how everybody responded to different situations.”
The Bears were able to put up some of the best event scores in school history, including a new program-high on beam with a score of 49.35. Cal also tallied up its second best score ever on floor with a 49.45, and the third best ever on bars, 49.475.
Cal began its night on floor, its second best event of the season — 12th in the nation heading into Friday with an average of 49.220.
Sophomore Toni-Ann Williams performed an almost perfect floor performance to begin her night, finishing with a season-best 9.95. This was followed by a new career-high floor score of 9.925 by junior Zoe Drabut, but it didn’t end there. Junior Jessica Howe was also able to set a new career-best of 9.875, contributing to Cal’s great night on floor.
And the energy for Cal only continued as the night went by. The Bears followed up their historic floor performance by tying a season-high on vault, 49.225. This included a new career-high vault score of 9.90 by sophomore Arianna Robinson, good enough to take the event title. And another solid performance was put up by junior Emily Richardson, finishing with a season-high 9.875.
But the most impressive performance of the night for Cal came on bars, an event in which the Bears were nationally ranked 23rd when the night began. Williams led the Bears by taking another event title with a season-best 9.925. And three other Bears were not only able to set season-highs, but career-highs with a 9.90. This included Howe, freshman Sofie Seilnacht and junior Amber Takara.
The Bears were still hungry though, finishing their greatest meet in program history by setting the bar even higher. Cal finished off its tri-meet by setting the best ever beam score in school history with a 49.350. Howe surprised everyone by finishing with a near-perfect score of 9.95, good enough for a career-high. Junior Desiree Palomares followed closely behind with a score of 9.90.
The expectations for the Bears are now higher than ever heading into the postseason, especially with them now gaining a spot in the Pac-12 Championships. This is the first time they’ve ever gained a spot in the session with the top four teams.
“We keep getting better and better every weekend and our confidence just continues to build,” Howell said. “We know that we have depth, which is going to be really important heading into the postseason.”
Alex Quintana covers softball. Contact him at [email protected]