Cal men’s gymnastics finishes fifth in qualifier at NCAA Championships

Leslie Yang/File

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The Cal men’s gymnastics team’s season has come to end. Just not in the way it had hoped.

And as had been predicted before the 2016 NCAA Championships, hosted by Ohio State, the Bears were unable to overcome the stronger competition they faced throughout the season. But the team was also plagued by its own mistakes and, as a result, failed to make it past the qualifying round of the championships Friday.

Cal fell to fifth at its qualifier, the first of two, with a score of 421.350. Only Navy finished behind the Bears with a 410.100. Despite being the fourth-seeded team out of the 12 that took part in the Championships, Cal was unable to score within 10 of its qualifying score, 434.313. In fact, if the Bears had been able to score anywhere near this mark, they would have easily been within the top-three teams in their qualifier, as only Oklahoma scored above a 430.

The Sooners finished the qualifier with a dominating score of 441.200 and then went on to win the championships Saturday with a final of 443.400. Stanford fell to second at the finals, almost nine points below Oklahoma, 434.050. With Ohio State then slipping into third place, the top three qualifiers prior to the meet all finished exactly as they had been seeded.

Cal has only reached the 440 mark once, notching its highest team score in school history March 13, 442.150.

While the team’s overall score may not have met expectations, there were still many individual performances to be proud of. Senior co-captain Kevin Wolting won the all-around at the qualifier by two points, 87.100. Among his impressive performances included tying for first on vault with Zach Liebler from Minnesota, 15.200, and claiming third on floor with the same score.

Fellow senior co-captain Kyle Zemeir also did well in the all-around, finishing in fourth with an 84.600. Zemeir had a tough day on the high bar, however, as he finished last at the event, 12.350.

Sophomore Yordan Aleksandrov had a strong day, placing third on high bar, 14.850. Also medaling for Cal during the qualifiers was senior Takahiro Kawada, who took second on pommel horse, 15.200, a season high.

High individual marks qualified multiple Bears to compete Saturday with the final six remaining teams. Three gymnasts from Cal were named All-Americans because they finished in the top eight of at least one event. The team finished with a total of four All-American Honors, as Zemeir finished eighth in the all-around event, bettering his score from the day before, 85.150, and earning third on vault, 15.300.

Wolting didn’t post a score anywhere near his all-around from the day before, finishing in 12th with 83.800. The senior did, however, tie for fifth on floor, earning him an All-American nod as well.

Aleksandrov was awarded his first ever All-American title with a 15.100 on high bar, third overall after leading in the event for a couple rotations.

Overall, Cal had individual performances to be proud of, but it would have been nice for the seven seniors on the team to get a shot at the team final. Multiple Bears, however, are going to be participating in national or other events for a chance at the Olympics this summer, with senior Ryan Patterson already qualifying for Rio this weekend to represent South Africa.

Contact Alaina Getzenberg at [email protected].Follow her on Twitter @agetzenberg