For the fifth time this season, the No. 9 Cal men’s gymnastics team fell to No. 2 Stanford.
But the Bears didn’t just fall to the Cardinal. They also lost to the national teams from Japan and Canada, and they were only able to score more total team points than a combined team from the United States, Finland and South Africa.
At the International Collegiate Challenge, hosted by Stanford at Burnham Pavilion, Cal finished in fourth with 419.500 points. The Cardinal won the competition by just beating out Japan, 444.600-444.250. The event came down to the final rotation, as Japan was leading by 1.050 as Stanford went to the floor and Japan to the vault. But a strong performance on floor, including three scores more than 15.10, clinched the meet for the host team and kept Stanford undefeated.
With both Cal captains, seniors Kevin Wolting and Kyle Zemeir, only competing in a couple events, the Bears had to rely on younger gymnasts. The co-captains were given a portion of the night off as they were coming off the Winter Cup Challenge in Las Vegas. While Cal may not have been as strong as it typically is, many less experienced gymnasts gained experience against top talent and national teams.
Sophomore Yordan Aleksandrov led the way, competing in the all-around and finishing with a career-best performance, 85.400, hitting on six-for-six routines. Another Bear competed in the all-around, senior Ryan Patterson, who participated with the national team for South Africa at the meet, finishing with an 84.650 all-around score.
After a solid score on the high bar, 69.200, the Bears moved on to the floor exercise, paced by freshman Aaron Mah. Mah had a career-high score in the event, 14.950, leading the way for four of the five Cal gymnasts who all scored at least a 14.150.
Coming away with solid performances on both pommel horse and still rings, Cal had its best event of the day on vault, posting a 71.500. Wolting, who had a 15.050, led the way to the high score. Aleksandrov also had one of his best performances in the event, scoring a career-best 14.600.
Ending the night on the parallel bars with a 70.600, the Bears saw strong performances from both Aleksandrov and Mah, but at the end of the day, the performance was not enough to defeat these strong opponents. Cal will return with its normal roster with just three more meets until the postseason begins with the MPSF Championship.