After struggling through Senior Night at Haas Pavilion, Cal men’s gymnastics turned its focus towards its last meet of the regular season: the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, or MPSF, Championships. The No. 10 Bears had two weeks to prepare this time instead of one, so they were feeling ready to challenge No. 8 Air Force and face gymnastics giants, No. 1 Stanford and No. 2 Oklahoma for the MPSF title.
Spirits were high and the Bears were able to practice in the competition venue prior to the actual meet. But still, they fell short of their goals and ended in fourth place with a final team score of 388.600.
It was a battle for the crown between the Cardinal and the Sooners, as they had been trading off the top position all season. Even though the Sooners topped the rankings for the past six weeks, it was the Cardinal that ultimately pulled away, racking up an overall score of 423.150 for its second MPSF title in a row. Oklahoma trailed loosely behind with a 409.500, and second-runner-up Air Force tallied an overall score of 397.350.
“We’ve always kind of been head to head with Air Force and typically we’re above them, but they’ve been having a really good season and we haven’t been doing as well,” said junior team captain Noah Newfeld.
Even with the championships not going as smoothly as the Bears had hoped for at first, it seems they didn’t let that affect their spirits. Cal was able to maintain its energy and confidence into the Bears’ floor routines, the second to last rotation of the meet.
“The energy was just very high on the floor and everyone was having such a great time,” said freshman Khalen Curry. “Everyone did a good job, especially David Rauchwerger, he’s just someone that consistently hits for the team and he’s a great lead off person for us.”
The Bears had hoped to tackle the MPSF championships with high spirits, and they were able to maintain a positive dynamic throughout the entire meet. Despite finishing last out of four teams, the blue and gold saw some personal accomplishments here and there throughout.
Once again, the underclassmen of the team were able to rise to the occasion, and Curry scored personal bests on both floor and high bar with a 13.700 and 12.350, respectively. As the only Cal gymnast to compete in the all-around, sophomore Tyler Shimizu hit an all-around score of 76.550.
“(Curry) hit a really nice floor set, sticking every pass except for the last one,” Newfeld said. “ Shimizu got the MPSF conference honors for the all-around, and he’s been pushing really hard to get back for the all-around, so I think he deserves a shout out for putting a meet together.”
Other members of the Bears were able to clean up their own routines, fixing prior mistakes and sticking more landings than before. However, Cal fell short in the pommel horse, one of its traditionally stronger events this season. Senior Noah Sano led the event with a 13.200, but the five athletes combined for a total score of 63.250, their second-lowest score of this season.
The Bears did end the meet with some personal accolades under their belts. Shimizu made the All-MPSF list, a new honor, for the all-around. Sophomore Landon Wu made the All-MPSF list for the horizontal bar; freshman Theodor Gadderrud made the list for parallel bars. They were joined in their honors by junior Chris Scales for still rings, Sano for pommel horse and Curry, who completes the list for individual events with floor and vault.
With the regular season behind them, the blue and gold will head into the NCAA championships set to kick off April 14 as the 10th ranked team in the nation.