Cal gymnastics breaks records to end regular season perfect at home

Karen Chow/Senior Staff

Haas Pavilion was home to one of the most dynamic and the most successful meets in the history of Cal women’s gymnastics. Building off the excitement and emotion of it being the seniors’ last home meet, the Bears dug deep and remembered their training to hit routine after routine on their way to several season-highs and the highest ever total program score.

Sunday’s competition started out with a bang for the Bears on vault — they broke their season record with a 49.35. On bars, Emi Watterson hit yet another 9.95 routine, marking the third week in a row she has scored above a 9.9. Talitha Jones stuck her landing and scored a career-high 9.875, and Nina Schank was able to put all the pieces together this week and catch her releases after a few falls previously in the season.

One of the many highlights of the night for Cal was that its program’s high-scoring beam lineup hit a huge 49.475, which is one of the 10 highest team totals to have been achieved in NCAA Division I gymnastics this season. Freshman Maya Bordas was up as the anchor again and hit another 9.95.

Haas was brought to its feet by the energy and power-packed floor routines, as the Bears scored yet another season high (49.4). Senior Chelsea Shu was able to break her career-high score she had set just last week with a 9.95 routine that earned her a perfect 10 from one judge. Cal was ahead of the pack for the entirety of the meet, ultimately finishing first out of four with a 197.575, followed by Illinois (196.175), San Jose State (194.45) and Sacramento State (192.1).

Individual honors are continuing to be picked up by Cal in week 11 of competition. Freshman Milan Clausi earned her fourth Pac-12 Freshman of the Week recognition after a stuck Yurchenko 1.5, earning her a career-high 9.95 in addition to a 9.9 best on beam. Fifth-year Toni-Ann Williams was also recognized as one of six AAI awards finalists — the highest honor in women’s gymnastics.

With all of the highs of the night, it was the perfect home conclusion for the four graduating seniors who were honored after the conclusion of the competition. In the practices leading up to this meet, the seniors were able to set wishes for their team. According to co-head coach Elisabeth Crandall-Howell, they decided to do everything with an attitude of gratitude and positive energy; Captain Shu’s wish for meet day was to show everyone how much passion drives the team. And they did just that.

“They are prepared to do their gymnastics; they work really hard, they train really well, and when they get under pressure in things like this, it is so much more about just letting yourself trust your training. … You just have to get out of your own way and let your body do what you’ve trained it to do, and so when you put (your focus on) those four things … you allow yourself to live up to all of that good feeling and passion and love in every single piece of it and the gymnastics does itself,” Crandall-Howell said.

Sloane Pace covers gymnastics. Contact her at [email protected].