After a three-week break following the Pac-12 Invitational, No. 13 Cal men’s gymnastics has had plenty of time to get ready for this weekend’s International Collegiate Challenge to be hosted by No. 3 Stanford at Burnham Pavilion.
This elite tournament marks the fourth consecutive time the Bears will face the Cardinal and third consecutive time on rival territory.
After repeatedly being outperformed by their rival this season, the hope is that the time spent in the gym will provide the edge they need to finally overcome Stanford during their last guaranteed meeting this season.
As of this week, Stanford trails only No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 2 Penn State after finishing first in four out of five of its tournaments so far this season. With such a high national standing, the Cardinal are in strong contention for a national championship.
Stanford will also be going into this tournament ranked eighth or higher in all six events while ranking third in the parallel bars and high bar. As always, the Cardinal have strong all-arounder senior Robert Neff — who is currently tied for first in the nation with a score of 83.000 — to support them.
This meet, however, will host competitors even more dominant than the Cardinal. In addition to two other Pac-12 teams, No. 7 Illinois, No. 8 Michigan and Japan’s and Canada’s national teams will be in attendance.
This will be the Bears’ first time competing against the Wolverines this season as well as their first time facing the Fighting Illini since 2013. The last time Cal and Illinois met, the Bears won by just 1.350 points.
Japan’s national team is the reigning Olympic champion, pulling together representatives from four of the country’s top universities to compete. With that reputation, Japan is expected to prove a force to be reckoned with against all other teams present.