Teamwork is one of the most important attributes in all of sports, and it will certainly be on display this weekend. The No. 7 Cal men’s and No. 20 women’s gymnastics teams will be looking to work together Sunday as they hold their annual co-ed meet at Haas Pavilion.
The men’s team will have a tough test on its hands as it goes up against Oklahoma, the top team in the country. The women’s team, on the other hand, will go up against UC Davis in what will be the Bears’ season home finale. Both the men’s and women’s teams will look to feed off each other’s energy and come out of Haas Pavilion as winners.
“The men’s team has always been supportive of us, and we’ve always been very supportive of them,” said women’s coach Justin Howell. “Watching them succeed is really going to pump us up, to hopefully go back and forth — we do a great routine, they do a great routine.”
The men’s team last competed Saturday, when it traveled away from Berkeley to Palo Alto, California, to face then-No. 3 Stanford and then-No. 9 Minnesota. The Bears ended the night with a team score of 430.200, which is impressive because it was their first five-up, five-count meet of the year.
The night was highlighted by the performances of juniors Kyle Zemeir and Ryan Patterson. Zemeir ended the night as the all-around leader of the meet, with an outstanding score of 87.150. Patterson came in a close second, finishing with a strong score of 87.100. Both Zemeir and Patterson will need to perform well this weekend in order to pull off a win.
The Bears will have one major advantage going into this meet — the full return of Kevin Wolting, the newly announced member of the 2015 U.S. national team. He’s an important piece of the overall structure of this team, especially when it comes to the phenomenal scores he puts up on the pommel horse. The pommel horse has been the Achilles heel of the Bears in recent weeks, especially in their last meet. Last week, the Bears put up a low pommel horse score of 69.200, and the only substantial score was a 14.600 put up by Wolting. Wolting will need to lead his team on the pommel horse once again if they hope to upset No. 1 Oklahoma.
The women’s team also competed last Saturday, when it traveled east to face then-No. 20 Arizona. The Bears finished with an overall team score of 196.100, which was their third-best team score of the season. The highlight, however, of the night was a season-high team score of 49.100 on the balance beam, an event that had been hurting them all year.
“Since we have struggled on the beam early in the season, we’ve really have put a lot of focus on that event,” Howell said. “Balance beam is one of those events that can really break or make the competition.”
Another important piece for the Bears this Sunday will be breakout freshman Toni-Ann Williams, who has already broken several school records this season. Williams has been the backbone for the team all year, and she never fails to surprise on any given night. This was seen last week, when she led the team by matching her career-high score of 9.875 on the balance beam, an event that had been her shakiest all season. Williams will lead the Bears once again this weekend as they look to finish off their season home finale on a high note.
“We’re focusing on winning, and if we stick to our game plan we’ll absolutely have a successful result,” Howell said.
Alex Quintana covers gymnastics. Contact him at [email protected]