There eventually comes a point in any competition where the contenders are more than just any player or team — they’re the best of the best.
After all, to be a part of the upper crust requires the skill, strength and determination to overcome the tumultuous and hurdle-stricken competition road. With the end of conference play, this point has finally arrived for NCAA women’s gymnastics teams across the country, who will now embark on their journeys to advance through the 2022 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships — a battle featuring the best of the best.
Coming fresh out of the Pac-12 championships, No. 9 seed Cal will travel to Oklahoma where it will battle No. 8 Minnesota, No. 34 Boise State and No. 25 Utah State in the regional semifinals. Although only the top two teams will be allowed to advance to the regional finals, the Bears feel confident as they attempt to secure a bid to the next round.
“We went 197.425 at the Pac-12 championships. That is an incredible thing,” said senior Grace Quinn. “That shows not only our fans and other teams, but us that we’ve got it.”
The Bears certainly proved that they’ve “got it” after their performances this season and at the Pac-12 championships. Walking away from the final in-conference competition with an impressive string of all-conference honors and mini victories, Cal not only achieved its best Pac-12 championship team score, but also tied its record for the most all-conference honors in history.
Given the upward trajectory of the Bears’ season thus far, the team looks to continue this trend and only go up from here. But, the impressive feats extend beyond Cal — all eight Pac-12 teams will advance to the NCAA Regionals.
Of the Pac-12, four teams claimed a slot among the top-16 seeds: No. 4 Utah, No. 9 Cal, No. 13 Oregon State and No. 16 Arizona. Utah took first at the Pac-12 championships with impressive scores and the assistance of a remarkable perfect 10.0 on bars recorded by freshman Grace McCallum. Her perfect score was the only of its kind during the meet, and will certainly be a moment to remember.
While all eight teams have been selected to move forward to the NCAA championships, two teams will have to make it past the play-ins to compete in the semifinal. No. 29 Stanford and No. 32 Arizona will be put to the test as the two compete against San Jose State and West Virginia, respectively — the winners of which will advance to the semifinals.
Further, while all eight teams have advanced to the regional rounds, they won’t all be competing directly against each other. Cal, which flies to Oklahoma, will compete in the Norman Regional. Aside from the Sun Devils and potentially the Wildcats, the other Pac-12 teams are sprinkled throughout other regionals: Seattle, Auburn and Raleigh.
The other Norman Regional Semifinal occurring will be a battle between No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 16 ASU, No. 18 Arkansas and the winner from the Arizona versus West Virginia play-in. The top two winners from each semifinal will advance to the Regional Finals — a battle that’ll be all the more intense.
Competing in-conference is already a battle between a pool of worthy and skilled competitors, but on the national scale, teams must spare no effort because that pool becomes a vast sea of incredibly talented and determined programs. So while the national road is just beginning, the blue and gold is ready to hit the ground running and make its mark during the regional competition.
“Going into regionals we are competitors. We can definitely show up and show everyone who we are, which is Cal women’s gymnastics,” Quinn said.
Mia Wachtel covers women’s gymnastics. Contact her at [email protected].