No. 16 Cal women’s gym places 6th at Pac-12 Championships

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Michael Wan/File

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After two uncharacteristic falls on beam at Saturday’s Pac-12 Championships, No. 16 Cal women’s gymnastics looked down and out, staring last place square in the face. Its only remaining event was floor, on which it has been pressed for lineups because of injury over the past few weeks — things were not looking promising.

But the floor lineup had other ideas.

In the leadoff spot, senior Charlie Owens helped the Bears regain confidence, with her electric performance along to Walk the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance,” scoring a 9.825. Then came sophomore Sofie Seilnacht, one of gravity’s two victims in the prior rotation, who redeemed herself with a career-high 9.85. From there, all counting scores matched or exceeded Seilnacht’s 9.85, locking up a season-high score on floor and sending the Bears from last to second in their session.

While they came away empty-handed in the overall competition, the Bears did pull off a near-sweep of the four events in their session, individually winning or tying every event except floor. The meet was divided into two sessions, with the four lower seeds competing in the afternoon and the four higher seeds in the evening. Across the entire field, Cal placed sixth.

As the top seed in their session, the Bears were afforded the opportunity to choose their first event, and they elected for vault. The rotation was highlighted by freshman Mariah Peterson’s career-high 9.90. Cal put together a commendable 49.000 on the event despite a 9.20 from senior Amber Takara.

The Bears showed no indication of their season-long struggles on bars in the next rotation, where they scored 49.125 as a team. Sophomore Chelsea Shu’s 9.875 put her in a tie for first place in the session, and the rest of the lineup was not far behind. Senior Emily Richardson earned a 9.85, and the trio of Seilnacht, Takara and sophomore Yuleen Sternberg each put up a 9.80.

Then came beam, the apparatus on which Cal has enjoyed the most success this season. Four inches of leather can only be so forgiving, however, and it was anything but on Saturday. The two falls came from Seilnacht and senior Desiree Palomares, who have each been models of consistency throughout the regular season. Luckily for the Bears, each of the four remaining scores were 9.825’s or better, with junior Alicia Gallarzo’s 9.925 leading the team.

While sixth place may not have been where the Bears were hoping to find themselves at the conclusion of Saturday’s meet, the result is fairly inconsequential going forward. With regional qualifying scores now officially set, the Bears are guaranteed a spot at regionals.

“I think that really our focus is on regionals and on what we’re going to do in the postseason,” said head coach Justin Howell.

 
With a trial run under their belts at Pac-12 Championships, Cal now has a good idea of what went well and what adjustments need to be made as they prepare for regionals.

Adriana Ghiozzi covers women’s gymnastics. Contact her at aghiozzi@dailycal.org.

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