Cal men’s gymnastics moves on, women’s fails to advance

Karen Chow/Senior Staff

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In the toughest competition fields in gymnastics, Cal put up big numbers and held its own. The women, at their regional championships, shattered the new program record they set at the end of the regular season, while the men had several finishes in the top 10 at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, or MPSF, Championships. Even with all of the successes of the weekend, the performance was not enough for the women to finish in the top two to advance to the NCAA championships.

In its first session, the Cal women’s team distanced itself from the rest of the pack behind only No. 1 Oklahoma; this second-place finish secured its spot in the finals round of regionals, in which the team faced the Sooners again, along with the winner and runner-up from the other session, the No. 8 University of Georgia Gymdogs and the No. 9 University of Kentucky Wildcats.

Over the course of the two sessions, the Bears first hit a season-high vault total of 49.35 and then surpassed that by matching the third-highest vault total in school history (49.375). Bars proved to be another strong rotation, especially on the second night, when Emi Watterson, Maya Bordas and Alma Kuc each received 9.95; Kuc achieved perfection in the eyes of one of the judges and earned a 10.0.

The Bears were solid on floor, but even at their best, it is a weaker event for the team, especially compared to what other teams across the country score on the apparatus. As Cal was having its best meet of the season and in program history, it seemed like it was on its way to punching a ticket to the NCAA championships, but Georgia was also hitting a season-high 198.05, which was enough for it to advance, thus knocking the Bears out of the top two and concluding their season.

Though the Bears will not be traveling to the NCAA championships as a team, powerhouse freshman Milan Clausi will be representing Cal as she competes as an individual on vault. She earned this position after tying her career high 9.95 in the first round of regionals and a 9.9 in finals.

Meanwhile, at the MPSF Championships, there was no expectation for No. 11 Cal men’s gymnastics to defeat No. 1 Oklahoma or No. 2 Stanford, as the team has had the chance several times this season and has been unable to do so, but it did pull off a victory over No. 13 Air Force Academy. The Sooners took home another conference title, their eighth consecutive MPSF title, with just under a two-point lead over the Cardinal. Both schools will advance to the qualifying round and will almost certainly move on to finals, where Oklahoma will be vying for its fifth NCAA title in five years.

Aaron Mah brought home the top placement for the Bears of the competition with a fifth-place finish on floor, in addition to being in the top 14 on pommel horse and horizontal bar. Floor was the most successful event for Cal, with three athletes obtaining top-10 finishes and a total of five in the top 18.

The Bears’ men’s team is set to move on to the NCAA championship qualifier based on its four-score average for the season; this total counts one score from an away meet, one score from the conference championships and two additional scores, with the highest score not counted. The finale of the men’s season will be held in Champaign, Illinois the weekend of April 19.

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