No. 11 Cal men’s gymnastics will be on the road once again this weekend for yet another rival team’s Senior Night, traveling to Minnesota for a showdown with the No. 6 Gophers.
Last weekend, the Bears earned their highest team score of the season (397.250) against No. 1 Oklahoma. Even though this accomplishment didn’t result in a win on the scoreboard, it did kick off a promising trend that they hope to continue against the Gophers.
Minnesota, on the other hand, will be entering this week’s tournament after a tough loss against then-No. 9 Iowa, 405.950 to 400.750, snapping its five-meet win streak. In particular, the Gophers struggled on the high bars with two falls toward the beginning of the rotation.
Despite being ranked No. 3 in the nation on vault, the team suffered its lowest score of the season on what is usually its strongest event. Unless it is able to make a comeback this weekend, vault could prove to be Minnesota’s downfall for a second straight meet, as the Bears earned their season high on vault last weekend.
The only event title earned by the Gophers against the Hawkeyes was by junior Vitali Kan, who scored 13.850 on his floor exercise. Led by senior Joel Gagnon, a three-time team captain and two-time All-American on floor, Minnesota will be a tough matchup for Cal in this particular area.
The floor exercise was the only event that Cal was actually able to win against Oklahoma, putting extra pressure on both teams to outperform their opponents this weekend.
Despite the unexpected loss to Iowa, a team that Minnesota had already beat once earlier in the year, the Gophers still maintain a home-field advantage over the Bears as they return to Minnesota for the first time in three weeks.
The crowd of Gopher fans will be especially impactful this Sunday, as the local community will tune in to celebrate this year’s 10 graduating team members on their Senior Night.
The Bears were still able to hold their own in the face of cheering Sooners fans when competing on Oklahoma’s Senior Night and are optimistic to replicate that success.
If Cal can find a way to use that Senior Night spirit to its advantage, the Bears’ successful track record on the road combined with Minnesota’s most recent loss could be the recipe that Cal needs to upend one of the NCAA’s top-ranked teams.
Alison White covers men’s gymnastics. Contact her at [email protected]