After a rough two-meet stretch on the road, the No. 18 Cal women’s gymnastics team is coming home. The once-perfect Bears were knocked down by No. 5 Utah two weeks ago and failed to rebound the following week against Arizona. Now, as the second half of the season begins and the postseason looms, Cal has some catching up to do. That may be easier said than done, as No. 12 Oregon State comes to town this weekend.
Last week, the Beavers were able to do what Cal could not and upset powerhouse Utah. They also beat the same Arizona team to which the Bears recently fell victim. In fact, Oregon State’s only loss on the season came against No. 4 UCLA, last year’s Pac-12 champion.
In addition, Oregon State senior Kaytianna McMillan was named the week’s Pac-12 Gymnast of the Week. In the Beavers’ meet against Utah, McMillan came through in the clutch on the floor, scoring a 9.925, the exact score that her team needed in order to slide past the Utes. She earned the floor title for that performance, securing her sixth title in as many meets.
The Bears will look to improve upon a number of mistakes in their last two meets. While they managed to clean up vault landings when they visited Arizona, errors on bars dragged the Bears’ score down substantially.
Cal also looked uncharacteristically shaky on the balance beam, which, up to this point in the season, has been its best event. Cal head coach Justin Howell attributed the team’s unsteadiness on the event to a lack of focus.
Competing at home this weekend in front of a friendly crowd should be a benefit for the Bears, who have time and time again proven their prowess on the beam.
“It’s always nice competing at home. Our fans are amazing at Haas (Pavilion), and the energy is great,” Howell said.
On floor, Oregon State’s best event, the Bears will need to continue to step up their game. Cal’s floor lineup has felt the loss of former Pac-12 Specialist of the Week Toni-Ann Williams, who is out for the rest of the season with an Achilles tear. Last week, however, senior Desiree Palomares highlighted the floor lineup with a career-high 9.90 and senior Zoe Draghi had a season-high 9.85. The Bears will look to post a 49-plus score on the floor, something that they have accomplished only once this season.
Cal will reap the benefits of its first full week of practice in two weeks, as they are slated to compete Saturday afternoon at 4:30 p.m.
It seems that Cal is still adjusting to the lack of its team leader, Williams. With the postseason fast approaching, however, the Bears will have to prove their mental fortitude by competing confidently against Oregon State, despite the Beavers’ higher ranking. Tested by the weight of a two-meet losing streak on their backs, the Bears return to Haas Pavilion this weekend with a chip on their shoulders.