Friday’s Purple and Gold Classic quad meet was an evening of many firsts: It was the first time the Purple and Gold hosted collegiate teams, the first perfect 10 on floor in Cal history and the first time Cal assistant coach John Carney stepped into the role of head coach as a result of co-head coaches Justin Howell and Elisabeth Crandall-Howell’s absence due to illness.
And on the topic of firsts, the Raising Cane’s River Center meet in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was the first of three consecutive quad meets for Cal, and the only of the three on the road. At this stage in the season, it is vital for all teams to raise their national qualifying scores, or NQS, as the postseason quickly approaches. Cal and LSU certainly achieved that Friday.
“They really stepped up,” Carney said about the Bears. “We had how many different adversities thrown at us? And they went out and looked like, ‘Hey, we’re here for a business trip,’ and business was good. They did a really good job. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Final scores amounted to a nail-biter victory in favor of the Tigers, who defeated the Bears 197.7-197.675. Washington took third with a 196, while George Washington rounded out the quad with a 195.125. While LSU ultimately pulled ahead to take the meet, the real victory arguably belonged to one gymnast in particular: Cal freshman eMjae Frazier.
Frazier’s standout performance on floor during the third rotation was easily the highlight of the night. The freshman earned a perfect 10 — the first 10 on floor in Cal history, the first 10 of the season for the Bears (the first since 2021, in fact) and the first 10 achieved by a Cal freshman since Toni Ann-Williams’ vault performance eight years ago.
“(Getting a 10 is) just one thing you really look forward to, being a collegiate gymnast,” Frazier said. “I just wanted to put it together, and I just wanted to have all my landings and my leaps down for once, and I went, I did it. … Everyone was cheering ‘10, 10, 10,’ and seeing it was just so amazing.”
The event-winning routine also brought Cal to a school-record 49.7 on floor. Junior Gabby Perea scored a 9.9 in the second spot, and the Bears never looked back — sophomore Maddie Williams followed with another 9.9 and made way for junior Andi Li and sophomore Mya Lauzon, who posted 9.95s. Lauzon herself had a solid meet, leading the Bears on beam and vault with a 9.9 and 9.95, respectively.
While the meet was not officially streamed, hundreds of viewers tuned in through The Daily Californian’s Instagram livestream, including Howell, Crandall-Howell and Frazier’s sister, UCLA senior Margzetta Frazier, who joined several others in commenting “10” at the close of the freshman’s floor routine. And since Friday night, a video of the perfect performance has accumulated about half a million views and counting across several social media platforms.
In addition to the individual floor title, the Bears took home a share of the individual bars title, as Li’s 9.95 tied Washington’s Lilly Tubbs for the best score of the meet on the event. Cal’s bars lineup maintained its caliber Friday night, earning a 49.55 — the team’s fifth straight 49.5-plus score on the event.
Frazier also took second in the all-around with a 39.525, trailing only LSU junior Haleigh Bryant, whose 39.7 was enough to raise her NQS and keep her at fourth in the nation. Frazier’s performance in Baton Rouge earned her the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week title for the second time.
The physical absence of Howell and Crandall-Howell was not evident in the Bears’ performance, something Carney attributed to the work the head coaches have put in.
“I didn’t feel like I was stepping in because their presence was there. All their work was there,” he said. “It was more of just keeping that energy up and just allowing the girls to do what they’ve trained to do. All the ingraining, the culture building, everything that Liz (Crandall-Howell) and Justin (Howell) have done, that’s what showed up there.”
Howell and Crandall-Howell will look to rejoin the team for its upcoming quad meets in Berkeley. The Bears host Ohio State, Stanford and Utah State at Haas Pavilion on Friday at 7 p.m., then Arizona, Sacramento State and UC Davis on Sunday at 1 p.m. According to Frazier, fans can expect more standout performances.
“Next time, when we have (Howell and Crandall-Howell),” she said, “we’ll just do really, really good again so that we can show them that we did really good in person.”