Cal gymnastics advance to championship meets in Georgia and Oklahoma

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Though the collegiate gymnastics season may be coming to an end, the excitement for fans and gymnasts alike is about to reach its peak as hopeful teams face off to secure positions in the NCAA championships that will take place in a few weeks. Before thinking about the season’s end, Cal will be focusing on two big meets this weekend: the regional championships for the women against No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 8 Georgia, No. 9 Kentucky, Missouri and Iowa State and a quad meet for the men against No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 Stanford and the Air Force Academy.

The women’s team is coming off of a fourth-place finish at the Pac-12 Championships, which bumped Cal up in the national rankings to No. 15 and earned it a spot in the regional tournament in Athens, Georgia. At regionals, the Bears will be aiming for a top-two finish to advance to the NCAA championships.

At the other three regional competition sites, the top 16 teams are set to compete alongside teams ranked from No. 17 to No. 36 along with top event specialists and all-around competitors whose teams did not advance. On the first day of competition, North Carolina State and New Hampshire will go head-to-head, and the top finisher will move to session three against Oklahoma, Maryland and Cal.

From this round, the top two schools will compete against the top two finishers from the second session; the results of this meet will send the winner and runner-up to the NCAA championships. The Bears will need to conclude both sessions in the top two in order to move on for the fourth time since 2016.

Cal’s men’s team will once again take on the best teams in the sport, Oklahoma and Stanford, which they competed against in the Bears’ last two meets. Given the dominance of these two schools, the Bears have been unable to beat either team this season or in recent years, but they will be given another shot at victory before 2019 wraps up. Cal has continued to find success through the end of the regular season, posting a season-high vault score of 70.05 in its home finale, with every team member competing on the event scoring a 13.00 or higher.

In order for both teams to accomplish their goals at this next level of competition, they will be relying on some of their strongest athletes, especially the women’s powerhouse lowerclassmen and the men’s seasoned upperclassman.

Freshman Milan Clausi has been dominant on the floor this season and was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and an honoree for the All-Pac-12 Second Team on vault. In her all-around debut, freshman Maya Bordas hit a 39.45, the highest score posted by a freshman this season. Sophomore Emi Watterson has continued her streak of stunning bar routines with three 9.95s, putting her on the All-Pac-12 Bars Second Team.

In his final regular-season meet, senior Aaron Mah claimed the floor title with a 14.3, and freshman Darren Wong put up Cal’s top routines on rings, pommel horse and parallel bars.

With aspirations of advancing to the next round of the postseason, the Bears will need to put up strong routines filled with the clean and consistent gymnastics they have shown to be more than capable of.

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