Cal looks to take final stand against Stanford for senior day

photo of Cal Men's Gymnastics
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Practice doesn’t always make perfect. Sometimes things don’t turn out the way they should, but as long as one keeps moving forward with strength and resilience, there will come a day when they will exceed their expectations.

At a joint meet with the Cal men’s gymnastics team and Air Force, Stanford pulled away with the highest score in the nation this season so far: 419.000. The Bears trailed loosely behind with a total of 390.500, their third highest score of the season, while Air Force ended the meet with a season-high score of 380.600.

The Bears, coming back from a two-week break, were not in their best condition and were sluggish to start. Beginning the competition on pommel horse, Cal saw its lowest score on the apparatus in the last three meets with a total of 64.230. Even though the results were a bit underwhelming for the Bears, it was still an improvement from their season opening pommel score of 59.750. Junior Noah Sano led the Bears with a score of 13.700 and finished fourth in the meet, just 0.050 points behind Stanford freshman Nick Kuebler.

Although they weren’t able to execute the most desirable performances, the Bears had multiple highlights from Saturday. Sophomore Collin Cunane saw a personal record in the floor exercise with a 13.650 while freshman Landon Wu delivered a personal best performance of 14.050.

After ending their last meet knowing they had more to give, the Bears are looking to wrap the season up nicely starting with their final meet at home in Haas Pavilion. This will be their final opportunity to prove themselves against the Cardinal, the No. 1 gymnastics program in the nation.

While their previous matchups with Stanford were in Maples Pavilion, Cal will finally face its oldest rival in Bear territory this weekend. However, this meet is more than just a clash of the Cardinal red and the blue and gold; it is also senior day for the Cal men’s gymnastics team, where they will be honoring graduating seniors Kyle Abe and Caleb Rickard.

“It’s definitely sad,” Rickard said. “It’s been a long journey. … I remember in 2010, I was competing (as a junior gymnast) for the first time in Haas Pavilion. Now, 12 years later, I’m competing for the last time in Haas on a collegiate team.”

As his final opportunity to one-up the Cardinal at home one last time, Rickard is hoping to hit all of his routines on the pommel horse, vault, parallel bars and horizontal bar. More than anything, he will want to execute performances that will leave behind his personal legacy on the Cal men’s gymnastics team.

Rickard is expecting that Cal will improve on its most recent score and have put down its strongest lineup of gymnasts to do so. As a team, the Bears are currently sixth in the nation for parallel bars, and senior and team captain Yu-Chen Lee and sophomore Noah Newfeld can push them even further up in the rankings.

Cal’s lineup on the pommel horse will include junior Will Lavanakul and sophomore Aidan Li, who are individually ranked 16th and sixth in the nation, respectively. Other gymnasts to keep a close eye on include Cunane, who will end his homestand for the season on horizontal bar.

“The goals for the team going into this meet is just leaving no regrets, having fun and enjoying this experience together,” Rickard said.

The 2022 season is beginning to draw to a close, and fans can only hope that the blue and gold will rise above and beyond their goals for their final stand at home.

Yuqing Qiu covers men’s gymnastics. Contact her at [email protected].