When considering the Cal men’s gymnastics team season, it’s important to look at the improvement and not who the team has beaten, because it has been faced with the toughest opponents in the country.
This makes it a lot harder to come away with victories.
On Saturday, the No. 7 Bears took part in the 24th annual Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, or MPSF, Conference Championships in Palo Alto. And on this day, Cal’s rivals who burned the team earlier this year, caught fire once again, leaving the team in third place for the sixth straight season.
No. 1 Oklahoma won the conference championships in Burnham Pavilion, while host No. 2 Stanford finished in second place. The Sooners finished with a total team score of 448.050 with the Cardinal fewer than four points behind at 444.650. Despite Stanford controlling the lead through the first four events of the day, defending national champion Oklahoma came back to claim its fifth straight MPSF Championship.
The Bears, however, were unable to join the 440 club that they had joined for the first time at their last regular season meet at Haas Pavilion, scoring only 435.550 on Saturday. No. 11 Air Force finished in fourth, 429.200.
Cal had two all-around competitors at the meet, senior co-captains Kevin Wolting and Kyle Zemeir. Wolting finished with an 88.850, scoring above 15.050 in three separate events. Zemeir completed the championships with 87.500.
Another strong individual performance came from sophomore Yordan Aleksandrov, who had two career highs, including a 14.600 on still rings. Zemeir scored a 15.000 on the same event, bringing the team’s total score to 72.350.
Aleksandrov’s second strong score came on parallel bars, where he tallied the second highest mark in the conference, 15.750. His dominant performance then aided Cal to a 73.350 in the event with Zemeir scoring the second-best score for the team of 14.800.
The team’s best event of the day was vault, scoring 74.000, only behind Stanford by 0.350 and Oklahoma by 0.950. Zemeir had a career day on the event, scoring 15.250, one of the highest scores of the day. Senior Kevin Ko had a 14.800, almost a high on the event for him, and Wolting continued his successful day with a 15.100.
Overall, the Bears had a solid performance. But there were no surprises. The stars did well and the team has done enough to take part in the NCAA Championships from April 14 to 16 in Columbus, Ohio. Their ability to score more points than the teams that have troubled them throughout the season is still in doubt.
But a solid third place finish is what the team will use to hopefully shake things up in the coming weeks.