There wasn’t a better time to be a fan of Cal gymnastics than this season. In the end, both gymnastics teams reached new heights, but the men’s team was able to get much further in the postseason, finishing fifth. Neither the men’s nor women’s teams reached its ultimate goal of becoming a national champion, but there was still plenty to be proud of.
The men’s season came to an end April 10, when the team traveled to Oklahoma to compete in the NCAA Championships, and finished with an overall team score of 432.100. That weekend also saw several individual achievements, especially when it came to juniors Kevin Wolting and Kyle Zemeir. Wolting and Zemeir finished the season by earning all-around All-American honors, registering final scores of 88.200 and 87.700, respectively.
This season for the women’s team was also one full of accomplishments. The Bears had one of the youngest teams in school history, and they only continued to improve as the year progressed. This all culminated in Cal’s third place finish at the NCAA Regionals, where the team’s overall score of 196.000 marked the school’s best finish in any NCAA regional event.
What makes the women’s team so exciting is the fact that they’re so young; in fact, almost all of the top gymnasts will return next year. Cal also has several exciting prospects that will join the team next season, which will make this team even better.
“Our team is young, and we’re all going to be together for a while, so that’s exciting,” said women’s head coach Justin Howell. “We also have some great freshmen coming in that will help us on balance beam, including Jessica Howe’s (sophomore all-arounder) younger sister, Emily Howe.”
It would be incomplete to talk about the success of the men’s and women’s teams this year without talking about their dynamic leaders.
For the men’s team, they were led all year by Wolting, who was the main force in pushing the program to new heights. His biggest honor of the year came Feb. 21, when he traveled to Las Vegas to compete in the 2015 Winter Cup Challenge. Wolting finished sixth in the all-around competition and claimed a spot on the United States Senior National Team. This was not only one of the greatest moments of the season, but of the entire program’s history. Wolting will once again look to lead the Bears next season, when they’ll have a legitimate shot to win a national championship.
“We have six freshman coming in, along with the entire team staying, so we’re going to be a lot better than we were this year,” said men’s head coach Brett McClure. “They’re only going to get stronger, more experienced and confident.”
The women’s team was led all season by freshman Toni-Ann Williams, who absolutely surprised everyone during her first year at Cal. Williams broke several school records this year, with her most impressive performance coming Feb. 13 — the night she set the school’s new individual all-around record with a score of 39.700.
Williams won several awards for the fantastic year she had, including Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and NACGC/W Region I Gymnast of the Year. She will only continue to get better heading into next season, so the Bears are definitely in good hands.
Alex Quintana covers gymnastics. Contact him at [email protected]