Nurture vs. nature: Cal overtakes OSU

photo of Cal Women's Gymnastics
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It is a recognized fact that people are a product of their environment. The factors that surround individuals shape them — just as the environment in Haas Pavilion shaped No. 11 Cal and No. 14 Oregon State during the Sunday meet.

The Bears and Beavers competed like crazy as fans from both sides filled the stands with vibrancy, achieving mini victories that both teams had yet to realize. On Cal’s side, the program finally broke 197.000 with its finishing score of 197.350, ultimately overtaking OSU.

The Beavers finished 196.575 — their second-best final score this season. To little surprise, much of that score was attributed to Olympic gold medalist freshman Jade Carey. The stellar athlete finished first all-around, with a score of 9.95 in every event with the exception of beam.

“She’s super inspiring, a super powerful athlete and she did really well today, and it was really cool to see that,” said senior all-arounder Maya Bordas.

Bordas, who claimed the national uneven bars title last year, has had consistent performances throughout the season thus far.

At each Haas Pavilion meet that has taken place since the Bears’ Pac-12 opener against Stanford, fans have been in attendance, but not to the same capacity as Sunday. Cheers echoed throughout the arena for the athletes as they finished each event, and the brightness emitting from each athlete as they stuck their landings was unmatched.

“Today was the best performance I put on being in college, so I’m really happy about it,” said all-around sophomore Andi Li. “The energy level was super high because we were just collectively working with the fans, and it was just super fun — just going crazy.”

Li boasted an excellent performance Saturday, finishing second all-around just behind Carey. She posted 9.850 and higher on every event, with an impressive event high of 9.925 on floor.

During the second rotation, the energy level was high for the Bears and Beavers as athletes were cheered on by the stands gleaming with school colors. Cal’s redshirt senior Nina Schank and freshman Madelyn Williams received twinning 9.925s on bars, both tying for second in the event.

“I was super happy and excited about (my bar performance) because I’ve been training really hard in the gym to stick my dismount,” Williams said. “That’s the one thing that I didn’t do at the past two meets, so I was super excited about that and the energy just felt amazing.”

OSU also boasted impressive performances during the second rotation. Carey walked away with a vault career-high of 9.95, and all-around senior Madi Dagen finished in the event with a season-high 9.925. This wasn’t Dagen’s only victory, though, as the strong athlete pulled away from beam during the fourth rotation with a second season-high 9.3.

Across the floor, the athletes performed exceptionally well and walked away with victories on both sides. Much more could be said about the Sunday performances, but perhaps the most exciting performance belongs to redshirt senior all-arounder Emi Watterson.

Watterson has been away from competition for a little while now due to family reasons, but the athlete finally made her season debut Sunday — and she did it with more than a bang. With the support of fans and her team, to name a few, the athlete posted an impressive 9.925 on beam, tying Carey for first in the event.

“Losing my dad has been really hard, but with the endless amount of support from my team, my coaches and the athletic staff and everyone, it made it so much easier, and it’s made me so much stronger,” Watterson said.

The Jan. 29 meet was marked by many factors: a lively environment, stunning performances, emotion, beauty and support. Yet this competition is just one of many incredible meets that will take place this season.

Mia Wachtel covers women’s gymnastics. Contact her at [email protected].