Frustration has sunk in for the men’s gymnastics team and its fans. Now well into their season, the No. 8 Bears only have four meets left to redeem themselves after yet another loss. Before Saturday, the Bears were 1-3 but ended up losing to No. 11 University of Michigan 402.100-386.800. Why did history repeat itself yet again? Why did the Bears lose for the fifth-straight time to the Wolverines in a duel match? There are so many questions — many of which Cal is likely struggling to find the answers to, as it has now lost three meets in a row and stands at a 1-4 record.
Six events: Cal and whomever its competitor may be must each compete in six events at each meet. It was no different against the Wolverines. Michigan nearly swept all of the events, also clinching the highest individual score in four of the six meets and tying for a fifth. The only event the Bears won was the high bar, and that win was less than dominant, coming by less than two points.
Cal is currently ranked fifth in the NCAA on the floor and 10th on the vault, while University of Michigan is ranked eighth and seventh, respectively. These two events should have been two of the strongest for the Bears – they, however, ended up losing both to Michigan, a poor sign for the Bears for the rest of the meet.
The Bears had especially tough competition in Wolverine sophomores Emyre Cole, Ryan Dunning and Anthony McCaullum. Cole tied for the event title on the floor exercise and claimed the event title on the vault, with scores of 14.400 and 14.800, respectively. And although Cal had strong performances from its consistently strong gymnasts, they were simply not enough to gain a lead in the meet. To the Bears’ dismay, the struggle only continued throughout the meet.
The pommel horse is a sore spot for the Bears, one that continues to remain their weakest event at each meet. On Saturday, the Bears opened on the pommel horse, recording a score of 58.400, a far cry from Michigan’s score of 67.650. Cal sophomore Bailey Chang and senior Nicholas del Junco both had difficulties on the pommel horse, with Chang scoring a 10.900 and del Junco a 9.900. Not a single Bear broke a score of 14.000 on the pommel horse or on the rings.
Cal sophomore Aaron Mah had another stellar night — the gymnast won his second all-around event title of the season with a score of 81.600. Junior Yordan Aleksandrov had the highest score for the Bears on the rings as well as for the high bar event. Redshirt junior Michael Rauchwerger had a strong night too, scoring the highest for the team on the vault.
Despite the tough-fought battles, especially evident from the incredibly small difference in team totals in each event besides the pommel horse, the Bears could not come ahead. They must keep chipping away toward improvement, especially since a clear pattern has emerged as to which areas they need to work on. Though repeatedly losing competition after competition is disheartening, the Bears have no choice but to make the necessary changes over their last four meets.
Avanti Mehrotra covers men’s gymnastics. Contact her at [email protected]