The Cal women’s gymnastics program faces pressures that few could understand. After flirting with perfection last season, it is burdened by its own success. In order to top last year’s performance, the program must make history (again).
Fortunately for the Bears, they seem equipped to do just that. For a second consecutive year, the team has been ranked eighth overall in the Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association preseason poll, tying the all-time program record.
A high preseason ranking is nothing new for Cal. Throughout the past 5 years, the team has been ranked in the preseason top 10 on four occasions. Furthermore, the ranking proves that the blue and gold is a serious contender in the Pac-12 conference title race. Alongside No. 4 Utah and No. 7 UCLA, Cal is one of three teams in the conference to crack the top 10.
Every member of last year’s team, except for graduate Rachel Mastrangelo, is slated to return for the 2021 season, including two All-Americans — Kyana George (All-Around) and Maya Bordas (Uneven Bars). Additionally, two former PAC-12 Freshman of the Year award winners — Milan Clausi and Nevaeh DeSouza — will compete again this year for the Bears.
“NCAA Women’s Gymnastics is very strong across the board, and I believe that we have a team that can compete with the very best,” said co-head coach Justin Howell in an email. “I continue to be impressed with our team’s ability to adapt and stay focused on the moment, and I am very excited for our season to begin!”
Aiko Sudijono covers women’s gymnastics. Contact her at [email protected].