It was a weekend full of personal and team bests as the men’s and women’s gymnastics teams traveled to their dual away meets. On the women’s side, the Bears swept all four apparatus titles and finished victorious over San Jose State. It was also a big day for the men, who claimed their only first-place finish of the season against the University of Washington and took home the all-around title.
Starting on the uneven bars, the Cal women’s team was forced to count a fall in its event total after both sophomore Nina Schank and freshman Maya Bordas were unable to catch the release moves at the tops of their routines. Though this was a rough conclusion to the rotation, a career-high 9.85 from freshman Talitha Jones and a 9.925 from sophomore Emi Watterson helped keep the Bears moving in a positive direction. Cal’s runway performances were also noteworthy, specifically those from the three gymnasts who completed Yurchenko one-and-a-halfs to get their 10.0 start value, helping the team score solid 9.8 scores across the board.
As the Bears moved to floor, they put on a show for the audience with high-flying tumbling capped off with controlled and polished landings to ensure that the judges would not take any deductions there. Their emphasis on the details was evident as the team went on to tie its season-high floor score in addition to two athletes, Bordas and senior Chelsea Shu, earning career-high 9.85s and freshman Milan Clausi securing another floor win.
Beam was the best event of the night for Cal, which put up a 49.3. The leadoff routine is crucial for setting the tone for the remainder of the event, and Jones remained completely composed under the pressure by hitting all of her connections and sticking the dismount. All of the routines that followed emanated the same confidence.
Capping off the night was beam champion Bordas, who attacked every skill to earn herself a 9.9. The No. 16 Bears finished with a total of 196.1 over the Spartans’ 193.725. While this is not an outstanding final score because of the rocky start on bars, the individual performances of the night showed precision, consistency and improvement. In week 10 of the regular season, such performances are indicative of how hard the team is working, and it should show in the postseason.
In the team’s dual meet up in the Pacific Northwest, Cal men’s gymnastics grasped its first gold-medal finish against Washington and posted a season-high meet total of 405.5 on the road to doing so. Up first on pommel horse, the Bears hit all five routines with steady rhythms and stuck landings to start the meet on the right foot.
Moving to floor, the men showed their power and strength with their best event of the night — freshman Darren Wong hit his tumbling and stuck many of the landings to contribute a 14.55, a career best. Vault was another high-flying event, but Cal was unable to eliminate the extra steps on its landings and took a subsequent hit in its scores.
With many athletes sitting out this meet, including some event specialists, the Bears had holes to fill but were able to step up and show off a career high on rings for Wong, a meet title on rings for senior Aaron Mah and a season-best 67.95 on the event for the team. The successes continued from there for Mah as he collected a total of four event titles by the end of the night and aided Cal in breaking a 400.0 score for the second time this season.