Saturday at Haas Pavilion, Cal men’s gymnastics welcomed No. 1 Oklahoma to its last home meet of the season to face off in a head-to-head battle of technique and endurance. Although tensions were heightened by the pressure of Senior Day, the gymnasts overcame this by riding their momentum from last meet’s big win.
Despite this, the Bears ultimately fell short of the Sooners, posting an overall score of 381.450 to their 410.050. With a few key members missing and some scattered blips in routine, the team struggled to maintain the previous meet’s excellency. Still, many of the gymnasts managed to put up solid routines and beat personal bests.
While junior Noah Newfeld continued his stellar consistency by putting up teamwide bests in three out of six events, with a 13.900 on floor, 13.500 on rings and 12.900 on high bar, others also performed with personal quality. Freshman Theodor Gadderud met his personal best on vault with a 14.350, senior Will Lavanakul paced Cal on pommel with a 13.350 and junior Jelani Sweet further boosted Cal’s morale with a 13.600 personal best on floor.
Likewise, junior Chris Scales placed an impressive 13.200 on parallel bars.
“I had one of my better days. I hit both rings and p bars and I was pretty proud of my performance,” Scales said. “There’s obviously still things I could improve on, but the hard work has finally paid off — I had some scores I wasn’t too happy with earlier on in the season, so it was good to get some nice hits under my belt.”
Scales believes that injured senior Darren Wong was instrumental in the team’s success, even from the sidelines, by urging the team to focus on having fun.
This encouragement likely translated to other gymnasts under pressure, such as sophomore Tyler Shimizu, who competed in the all-around for the first time in his collegiate career, totaling 74.950 throughout six events.
“Personally, it was definitely rough, which I can extend to the team as well,” Shimizu said. “The fatigue was quite visible on everyone’s faces and in our performances.”
Although Shimizu felt his struggles were due to his body struggling to handle the load of an all-around, he is happy with his overall performance, particularly his score on rings.
While the team generally struggled throughout the competition, the squad could finally breathe a sigh of relief once the high bars event arrived.
“We kind of had a rough day overall, but the high bar was the highlight even though it’s not usually our best,” said Scales. “We hadn’t had good scores before, but then we hit it 5 for 5 on high bar. Shout out to guys like Landon Wu and Khalen Curry, because they added new skills in their routines that pushed the scores up.”
Spirits still remained high despite the Bears’ inconsistency in performances.
“I wanted to create an environment that everyone was happy to be in and to make it special for the seniors’ last time in Haas,” Shimizu said. “We did this with cheers, more energy and a little more celebration at the end of routines.”
The Bears will have a chance to redeem themselves, however, with their upcoming competition for the MPSF Championships at Air Force in Colorado.
Although the higher altitude will make endurance difficult for the gymnasts, they’ve been doing more high endurance exercises at practice to prepare.
“For the next couple meets we’ll definitely be working on solidifying performances, gaining confidence and gaining consistency within our performances, so we can go into next competitions feeling like we did the best we could,” Shimizu said.