Bears vault to victory in win over Cardinal

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The third time was not the charm for the Cal men’s gymnastics team against Stanford this season. The fourth and fifth times that the Bears matched up with their Bay Area foe, however, turned out pretty well. Cal wrapped up a five-meet season series with Stanford Saturday with a win in Palo Alto. The No. 5 Bears, coming off a win against the Cardinal Feb. 12, secured a second straight victory with a score of 344.900-343.600.

The Bears scored higher than the No. 4 Cardinal in four of the six events. Cal won the rings, floor, parallel bars and horizontal bar. They came up short on the pommel horse and vault.

The pommel horse loss was a rarity, as senior Glen Ishino placed only fourth in the event. The pommel horse is usually the U.S. men’s national team member’s strongest event.

Compared to the pommel horse loss, the victory on the floor event was a different kind of unexpected. The Cardinal are one of the best tumbling teams in the country and are led by the defending national champion in the event, Eddie Penev.

Despite some surprises on Saturday, Cal coach Tim McNeil was pleased with the way his team performed.

“Overall, the meet went well,” McNeil said. “We were a little less deep this week than previous meets. But it didn’t deter anyone that competed. Even though some mistakes were made, the guys did a good job. They had a lot of pressure because they knew we were less deep, but they handled it well.”

The Bears have struggled throughout the season with injuries. One reason for the success through these obstacles has been the consistency of the team captain, junior Donathan Bailey. Saturday’s meet was no different.

“Donathan Bailey really carried the team,” McNeil said. “He did all six events and scored well in the all around. Every single routine he did, we really needed him to hit. I think that he really set the pace for the rest of the team.”

Despite the victory, McNeil is not letting up on his intensity. He’s looking forward to sharpening up rough routines on the floor exercise and vault, which could potentially be huge downfalls for the team.

The Bears now enter a five-week break, the longest of the season. They will try to get healthy and deepen their roster for the MPSF and NCAA tournaments that lies ahead. Ishino, for instance, is currently only competing on pommel horse in an attempt to get healthy.

“The main goal of the next five weeks is just refinement and improving the overall look of everyone’s gymnastics,” said McNeil. “Right now I see that as the only thing getting in our way. I see that as the only thing keeping us from winning a national championship. The things that we need to do are more than doable in the time that we have.”