No. 10 Cal women’s gymnastics crowned champs at NorCal Classic for third straight year

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Rachael Garner/File

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For the third consecutive year, the members of the Cal Women’s Gymnastics team are the queens of the North.

With a team score of 195.325, the No. 10 Bears successfully edged out Sacramento State, UC Davis, No. 11 Stanford and San Jose State in Monday’s NorCal Classic.

The Bears came out of the gate extremely strong on vault, their first rotation. The team did not turn in a single score below a 9.75 in the event. Junior Arianna Robinson’s 9.875 was the team’s highest, and was holding on as the best in the meet until Stanford phenom and reigning Pac-12 Gymnast of the Year Elizabeth Price later turned in an impressive 9.95.

Cal head coach Justin Howell was very pleased with the team’s performance on vault.

“They competed vault like we were three, four meets into the season already,” said Howell.

The next rotation, bars, proved a bit more challenging for the Bears. Both freshman Alexandra Dudschus and senior Dana Ho had falls on bars, which led to scores of 9.0 and 9.1, respectively. Ho, however, made a bold move in choosing to start her routine over from the beginning after the mid-routine gaffe. Senior Amber Takara led the team with a 9.9, but like her teammate Robinson, fell just short of Elizabeth Price’s 9.95 for the bars title.

“Their mistakes were good mistakes,” Howell said. “They were doing big, aggressive gymnastics, and that’s what I like to see.”

Cal made a very successful rebound from its bars missteps on beam, where the team completed a sweep. Senior Desiree Palomares and sophomore Sofie Seilnacht each turned in a 9.875, good enough for a tie for first on beam in the meet. In her collegiate debut, freshman Cassidy Keelen was right behind her teammates with a 9.825 and in third place.

Finally, on floor, 2016 Olympian and Pac-12 floor champion Toni-Ann Williams did not disappoint in the anchor spot. With a score of 9.925, she blew her competition out of the water and secured first place on floor. Combined with Robinson’s 9.85 and senior Charlie Owens’ 9.8, Cal earned a 48.700 on floor, the best team mark on that event in the meet. Coach Howell was impressed with the team’s performance, given the fact that the meet ran long and that they were competing floor late in the evening.

The final standings had Cal in first with 195.325, Sacramento State in second with 194.475, UC Davis third with 193.875, No. 11 Stanford fourth with 193.250 and San Jose State fifth with 192.600.

“For us to come out on top is a great motivator for the rest of the season,” Howell said.

The Bears will have a short week of practice before they head to Iowa to face the No. 22 Hawkeyes on Sunday, January 15.

Adriana Ghiozzi covers women’s gymnastics. Contact her at [email protected].