Record performances for gymnastics teams

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With several career highs, the Cal men’s and women’s gymnastics teams both showed off their immense talent at their respective meets over the weekend. The No. 7 men’s team made pretty easy work of the No. 17 Arizona State team, winning 438.300-408.600 Friday night. But the No. 21 women’s team, despite keeping the score very close, couldn’t pull off a win against No. 15 UCLA, losing only 196.800-195.425.

The men’s team was led by juniors Kevin Wolting and Kyle Zemeir, who finished in first and second place overall, respectively, with scores of 90.200 and 88.200 — both career bests.

Wolting contributed a high 14.650 score in the pommel horse, good enough for second, and took home the individual title on the vault, helping lead the Bears to a season-high score in that event. Wolting also put together a phenomenal floor performance that earned a score of 15.500. Zemeir, too, had some strong individual performances. On the still rings, his 14.800 score equaled a season high, and on the floor exercise, he finished with a career-best score of 15.150.

Other strong performances came from junior Takahiro Kawada, whose score of 15.100 on the pommel horse was a season high, and freshman Yordan Aleksandrov, who finished with a career-best score of 15.000 on the parallel bars — good enough to win the event. Behind these performances, Cal picked up program highs on the parallel bars, with a score of 73.850, and on the high bar, with a score of 73.900.

Head coach Brett McClure told Cal Athletics that having to fly to Arizona the day of the meet was a bit challenging but that he was very happy with how his team responded.

“They deserved this, to have a great meet,” McClure said. “The biggest difference tonight was how the freshmen worked through some early struggles. They not only stayed on, but did so in style.”

Down in Los Angeles, the women’s team (10-1, 2-1 Pac-12) also had a strong meet. Sophomore Desiree Palomares finished with career highs in all three events she competed in: the vault, the beam and the floor exercise. The Bears also saw great team performances on the floor — where they took him its second-highest score of the season — and the vault, where they tallied a 49.350 score, the fourth-highest event total in the team’s history.

Freshman Toni-Ann Williams’ performance at the meet helped the gymnast take home her third-consecutive Pac-12 Freshman/Newcomer of the Week award. Williams shined on the vault, with her 9.975 score breaking the program record for the event score.

The Bears did struggled early on when the uneven bars came undone and forced the team to change its practice order, moving to the floor exercise and balance beam while the bars were repaired. Cal associate head coach Elisabeth Crandall-Howell told Cal Athletics she was proud of how the team responded to a situation that was “unnerving.”

Because it is a young team, it’s been hard for Cal to turn in a score above a 49.0 this season.

“We are proving that we can compete with anybody,” Crandall-Howell told Cal Athletics. “We’re doing what we’re doing without putting together a full meet yet. We’re doing that with a young team. … Once they do that and put it all together, who knows where this team can go?”

Shannon Carroll is the sports editor. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @scarroll43.