Cal women’s gymnasts show power in pink

Lisi Ludwig/Staff

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While most wouldn’t opt to wear pink when going into battle, that is exactly what the No. 10 Cal women’s gymnastics team did Saturday in the “Powerful in Pink” breast cancer awareness home meet against the No. 21 Oregon State Beavers.

As the Cal women soared through the air on the uneven bars, sprinted down the vault runway and stuck impossible landings on the balance beam — all while wearing pink bows in their hair — it was clear that they reclaimed the color to symbolize ferocity, focus, strength and power.

The Bears proved their prowess with a 197.125-196.6 victory against the Oregon State Beavers, led by sophomore all-arounder Maya Bordas.

“It’s just a really good feeling to be able to hit everything, especially with all my teammates here supporting me,” said Bordas, who scored a career-high of 9.9 on vault and matched her season-high of 9.925 on bars.

She won the meet with a career-high all-around score of 39.575, attributing her success to trusting in her training and the process.

While this standout effort by Bordas led the charge against the Beavers, an unforseen injury necessitated that another hero emerge. Junior all-arounder Kyana George rolled her ankle during the touch period for the floor exercises, leaving the Cal team with a gaping hole in its floor lineup.

Junior Nina Schank filled that hole, subbing in for George and finishing out Cal’s floor lineup with a respectable 9.8.

“She has been competing in the exhibition spot. We’ve really been preparing her for a moment just like this. For her to step into that role and deliver when we needed her to was a pretty special moment,” said co-head coach Justin Howell.

While Bordas emerged as the leader, Schank saved the day, emphasizing the importance of performing her floor routine as an exhibitionist at prior meets and showcasing Cal’s depth.

George is recovering, and fans hope to see her back on the competition floor by the March 1 road meet against Arizona.

“We’ll take it day by day, the most important thing is that she’s recovering and resting,” Howell said.

The rest of the team was focused on quietly getting the job done. Junior Emi Watterson matched her career-high of 9.9 and placed first of the Bears on beam. Freshman Nevaeh DeSouza led Cal in vault with a career-high of 9.925. DeSouza has currently scored the most points for the blue and gold this semester — an impressive feat for a freshman athlete.

The Bears had entered the meet with the intention of improving their landings, an area in which they have struggled and will continue to make progress.

“We were lacking a little bit in landings on bars. Normally we’re better landing there,” said Howell, who was still happy with the team’s landings overall.

Despite George’s minor injury and some subpar landings off of the bar, it was a good day to be a Cal women’s gymnastics fan.

“The team morale is really great. You can just feel the support when you’re out on the floor, which is really cool,” Bordas said.

The Bears are currently ranked No. 10 in the nation, historically one of the highest rankings they have ever held, and they are still reaching higher.

“We have the same expectation every single weekend,” Howell said. “To get better.”

Sarah Siegel covers women’s gymnastics. Contact her at [email protected].