Rankings don’t lie, and Saturday, they proved correct once again. No. 19 Cal women’s gymnastics visited No. 13 Nebraska for a quad meet that also included No. 22 Utah State and unranked Southeast Missouri, and the results were exactly as expected. The Bears’ 196.400 was good enough for second place and was their highest road score of the season.
Starting off the evening on the floor, the Bears demonstrated commendable consistency, with no score less than a 9.650 coming in on the scoresheet. Sophomore Sylvie Seilnacht’s 9.825 was a career high and just the beginning of a solid performance that she carried throughout the night. Team event totals are calculated by dropping the lowest individual score, and although senior Charlie Owens has put up decent numbers all season, her score has often been dropped. This weekend, however, she contributed a 9.825, matching her season high to add to the aggregate 49.150.
Senior Desiree Palomares and junior Arianna Robinson have been neck-in-neck for the team-high floor score in multiple meets this season, and this time it was Palomares who locked it up with a 9.875.
Next, Cal headed to vault, tied with Nebraska at the end of the first rotation. The event was highlighted by freshman Mariah Peterson, whose 9.850 led the team and earned her second place in the meet. Peterson joined the vault lineup when junior Toni-Ann Williams tore her Achilles tendon and was deemed out for the season, but she has been a presence of her own on vault ever since.
At the halfway point in the meet, Cal found itself trailing both Nebraska and Utah State.
Coming off of its third-highest bars score in school history against Oregon State the week prior, the Bears put up a respectable 48.925 in Nebraska. Senior Emily Richardson unsurprisingly led the team with a 9.875; her performance on bars has been solid throughout the season.
Cal’s best chance to overtake Nebraska was in its final rotation, beam. The team could not get it done, however, as the Cornhuskers put up a huge 49.425 in their last rotation, floor. Regardless, the Bears put together an impressive performance amounting to a season-high 49.275 on the finicky apparatus. Sophomore Sofie Seilnacht earned a career-high on balance beam to share the event title with Nebraska freshman Taylor Houchin. With the help of Sofie’s counterpart, sophomore Sylvie Seilnacht, as a last-minute addition to the beam lineup, Cal managed to record no score less than a 9.725.
“Sometimes you have to go with your gut,” said head coach Justin Howell. “You may make some decisions earlier in the week, and you get to the day of competition and somebody else is really standing out in warmups. (Assistant coach Elisabeth Crandall-Howell) went with her gut with that, and it really was a good call.”
The Bears did just that Saturday, and it showed as they earned their highest road score of the season. The performance boosted their Regional Qualifying Score, which will become crucial with the postseason looming.
Adriana Ghiozzi covers women’s gymnastics. Contact her at