No. 12 Cal men’s gymnastics hopes to earn win on Senior Night

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Michael Wan/File

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After two frustrating months, this upcoming weekend may finally give No. 12 Cal men’s gymnastics a chance to actually win a tournament.

After coming in second place five times this season just behind the likes of No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 Stanford and No. 3 Minnesota, Saturday’s home meet against No. 14 Arizona and No. 17 Washington should be the perfect opportunity for victory.

This will be the Bears’ third time facing the Huskies this season. Cal first decimated Washington at the Stanford Open back in January with a score of 395.050 to easily top their rival’s 368.300.

The Bears again beat the Huskies at the Pac-12 Invitational two weeks later with very similar scores of 395.150 to 369.800, earning them second and fourth place, respectively.

It was at this same tournament that Cal and Washington first went head to head with Arizona State this season. The Sun Devils came in third place with a score of 385.000, right between the Bears and the Huskies. Washington later competed against and lost to ASU, again at the Sun Devil Classic on Feb. 24.

This weekend with be the Huskies’ first tournament in a month since that loss to ASU. Washington will look to translate its meticulous practice to success at Haas Pavilion against two rivals that have each twice proven themselves to be the superior team.

Instead of time off, both Cal and ASU have spent the past month competing, leaving them well-prepared for this weekend’s outing. After three consecutive weekends on the road, the most recent of which were out of state, the Bears are likely relieved to finally be returning to the Lair.

“We’ve just gotten into a rhythm at this point,” said head coach J.T. Okada. “Luckily this meet is a home meet, so not having to travel will actually help us fare better, and having had that practice, I think we’ll actually do a better job.”

Not only will this be Cal’s first time competing at home since mid-January, it will also be its Senior Night. The Bears hope to follow in the footsteps of the Sooners and the Gophers by earning a first-place tournament title while celebrating their veteran teammates.

Senior Yordan Aleksandrov could prove to be especially effective this weekend. His recent success as an all-around competitor for Cal is sure to be amplified by the spirit of Saturday night.

This same energy will likely spread to fellow seniors Bailey Chang, Michael Rauchwerger and Nathaniel Ramil and all of their underclassmen teammates.

Such enthusiasm combined with a return home, weeks of competition and historically conquerable rivals should make Saturday a long-awaited booming success for the Bears.

Alison White cover men’s gymnastics. Cover her at [email protected].