Bears lose Bruin battle, but win Pac-12 championship

Photo of Cal women's gymnast on bars
Theo Wyss-Flamm/Senior Staff

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Growing up, you read all about war and the famous events that shaped our present — about all of the gore and glory that was worthy of going down in history. More times than not, those victories arose from hardship and lost battles, and the same holds true for Cal. While the Bears may have lost the battle at UCLA, they certainly didn’t lose the war.

On Sunday night, Cal left Pauley Pavilion with the Pac-12 championship title — a victory that the program shares with ASU, OSU and Utah. This feat is the first of its kind for the blue and gold, and it was a victory that was shared by an incredibly close den of Bears.

“It was super exciting, that’s something that we’ve been wanting for a really long time and to be able to experience that with this team in particular was really special,” said senior all-arounder Grace Quinn. “We all really love each other and we’re all really close, so I think that made it even more special than it already was.”

Quinn’s floor performance during the Sunday meet was the best she’s done all season, and as a senior, she was thrilled to have executed a career-high 9.950. Her strong performance gave her third in the event.

Redshirt senior all-arounder Nina Schank also walked away from the meet with several small victories, recording a 9.900 on both bars and vault. Schank had many ties that night, tying her career-best 9.900 on vault, and tying for second on both bars and vault.

But the most impressive feats of the March 6 battle belong to UCLA, who ultimately took the win 198.050-197.200. The Bruins took first through third in the all-around, and also placed first on every individual event. The team’s powerful performances were electric, and the stands of Pauley Pavilion only contributed to that energy.

Freshman all-arounder Jordan Chiles, who competed at the 2020 Olympic Games and assisted the U.S. national team in achieving the silver medal, rocked the arena on Sunday. Chiles achieved 9.9 or higher on every event, and recorded a groundbreaking perfect 10.000 on the floor exercise. The freshman also took first in the all-around with an impressive 39.800.

UCLA’s impressive victory was also largely due to the performances of all-arounders sophomore Chae Campbell and senior Norah Flatley. Campbell recorded three career highs during the meet with a 9.950 and first-place title on vault, a 9.875 on beam and an all-around score of 39.635.

Flatley, who completed the final season of her collegiate career, achieved 9.950 on every event with the exception of vault, where she recorded a 9.900. The senior never finished below third place in any individual event and took second in the all-around.

This battle was a wonderful victory for the Bruins, but beyond that, was a stellar final meet for all the seniors on both sides of the den. Senior Bear Quinn touched on this, explaining that this regular season was extraordinarily meaningful.

“I think I’m just really excited to get to do this with this team in particular. This is the last year for many of us, and my senior class gets to go out with a bang,” Quinn said. She continued, “I think I’m also really looking forward to finishing out this season strong. Every meet we’ve gotten better and accomplished more and we just claimed the Pac-12 regular season Champ title. We still have a lot left to put out on the floor and show everyone.

The seniors do certainly get to go out with a bang — the Pac-12 regular season championship title is no simple victory. But this meet only marks the end of the regular season, and there will be more battles for Cal to face.

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