Bears poised to begin postseason in West Virginia

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Vanessa Lim/Staff

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The NCAA regional selections confirmed the Bears will begin their postseason in Morgantown, West Virginia.

No. 5 Cal received a bye straight to the second round of competition, in which it will face off against No. 12 BYU, No. 27 Ohio State and No. 28 Towson in the afternoon session.

Despite being over 2,000 miles away from home, the Bears will still find familiar faces.

Pac-12 opponent No. 13 UCLA will compete in the evening session of the second round, taking on No. 4 Michigan, No. 29 Kent State and the winner of Thursday’s play-in round between No. 33 Penn State and No. 35 West Virginia.

The top two teams from each session will advance to round three. Should the Bears make it there and then finish among the top two schools in the third round, they will earn a spot at the NCAA Championship in Fort Worth, Texas.

While Cal women’s gymnastics has never won nationals as a team, this year’s squad appears poised to embark on a competitive postseason run.

The blue and gold have the second highest national qualifying score, or NQS, among teams at the Morgantown Regional. With a tally of 197.613, they trail the Wolverines by 0.187 points. If the tournament goes according to plan, Cal is likely to be one of the two teams heading to Fort Worth, Texas.

Cal also enters regionals having shattered several program records during the regular season. Most recently, the blue and gold received a school record number of All-Pac-12 honors. In total, the Bears earned 12 awards, leading the conference alongside the Bruins. Last week also saw four Cal members take home regular season All-American honors.

Notably, senior Kyana George and sophomore Nevaeh DeSouza each received four honors. George, who is one of six finalists for the AAI Award, an award which goes to the top senior gymnast in the nation, earned a spot on First Team All-Around, First Team Balance Beam, First Team Floor and an Honorable Mention Vault. DeSouza was named First Team All-Around, First Team Vault, First Team Uneven Bars and Honorable Mention Balance Beam. Others recognized include freshman Andi Li for First Team Uneven Bars, senior Nina Schank for First Team Uneven Bars and junior Maya Bordas for First Team Uneven Bars and Honorable Mention All-Around.

Boasting four of the seven selected to the All-Conference Uneven Bars team, the Bears on bars are a force with which to be reckoned. This season, Cal tied an NCAA record on uneven bars in a matchup with UCLA; the blue and gold’s mark of 49.825 has only ever been matched by the Bruins in 2004.

The Bears are also capable of achieving individual glories. DeSouza is currently tied for the No. 10 spot nationally in the All-Around. The sophomore has been the definition of consistency; she has not scored below 9.85 in her past 16 events. While George has not competed in the all-around for four consecutive meets, she leads the team in average All-Around score, posting a 39.375.

However, whoever Cal throws into the All-Around competition could have their hands full against Michigan junior Natalie Wojcik in round three. She has scored two perfect 10s this season, one on vault and the other on balance beam. Knotted up for the sixth best All-Around NQS, Wojcik will likely have the Bears and the Wolverines chasing her should they both advance to round three.

For the first time in collegiate gymnastics history, all four of the NCAA regional contests will be broadcasted on ESPN3. Fans can catch the Bears in action at 10 a.m. Friday as the Bears start what they will hope is the first of many 2021 postseason performances.

Aiko Sudijono covers women’s gymnastics. Contact her at [email protected].