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Cal Baseball finally wins another Pac-12 series; Track & Field sets records on Senior Day
Also highlights from Cal Women's Gymnastics' meet at NCAA Norman Regional
Cal Women’s Gymnastics’ season ended at the Norman Regional Final
Needing to be near-perfect at the NCAA Norman Regional two weekends ago, No.9 Cal Women’s Gymnastics’ season came to an end when the Golden Bears were merely very-good to finish 3rd in that Regional Final. Cal also got edged out of any individual qualifier to the NCAA Championships in Fort Worth, TX this weekend. Not counting 2020 when the postseason was canceled, this will be the first NCAA Championships since 2014 without any Cal Bear; NCAA reduced the NCAA Championships field from 12 down to 8 teams in 2019.
(I don’t know how long this video will be up, but you can watch/rewatch the entire Norman Regional Final below. Cal’s record-setting beam rotation started in the 28th minute.)
The Bears started on bars where they could not get any scores that were 9.90+ despite no major mistakes. The team score of 49.125 was solid, but not against some top gymnastics squads in the country. Cal found themselves again in last place at the end of the first rotation just like what had happened in the Second Round.
Of course, the Bears will not quit. Bouncing back in a big way, Cal set a new beam school record with a 49.525. Nevaeh Desouza (9.85), Milan Clausi (9.875), and Maddie Willams (9.85) all posted decent scores before Maya Bordas (9.90), Andi Li (9.95), and Mya Lauzon (9.95) put the Bears back in contention.
Cal temporarily took over 2nd place by the end of the third rotation after a strong 49.525 rotation on floor, led by 9.90 from Gabby Perea, Clausi, Lauzon, and Quinn as well as a 9.95 from Li. With host Oklahoma running away with the meet, Cal needed to beat No.8 Minnesota for the second and final berth to the NCAA Championships. Cal led Minnesota by a slim 0.1 point going to the final rotation.
Unfortunately, Cal’s limited scoring potential on vault meant that they can only do so much. Minnesota was also one of the best floor team in the country. Golden Bears posted a 49.125, led by 9.85 from Lauzon and Bordas but had to wait and see the Golden Gophers exceed that with a 49.650 rotation on floor exercise.
Even from just watching the online stream, it was tough to see the emotional Cal Bears knowing that their season had come to an end, just short of a return trip back to the NCAA Championships. This was also likely the end of the gymnastics career for a number of Cal Bears.
"Our progress has been built upon the work of so many, but every single one of our seniors has contributed a large part of their hearts and souls to this program," Crandall-Howell said. "They have raised the expectation and everyone else has come along. They have built an even stronger legacy for themselves here than they can even understand at this point. They may absorb that some now, but it'll be even more in five years when people are remembering what they did in these moments. If anything, they are going to grow even more vivid because we don't get to see them everyday. Maya Bordas will always be our first national champion. All of them have had multiple records, every single year those records and awards kept piling up. Every time they set a standard for themselves they passed it. That's what we want for them even after they leave the gym, that they set high standards for themselves and exceed them."
Looking ahead, Cal will continue to benefit from the rise in prestige of the program and continue to bring in better talent annually. More impact freshmen will join the team this fall, including a USA National Team member in eMjae Frasier. Miki Aderinto and Casey Brown will also immediately improve Cal’s vault because both of them can do the Yurchenko 1.5 that got a starting value of 10.0 (only 2 of the 6 vaults in the Cal lineup this year had a 10.0 starting value, the rest were only 9.5 when performed perfectly).
The future for the program is bright with both Andi Li and Nevaeh DeSouza back and the emergence of Gabby Perea, Maddie Williams, and Mya Lauzon this year. Some of the freshmen and sophomores on the team that did not get in the lineup this year may still be major contributors before their Cal career is over.
While some of the seniors might have eligibility left, we have to remember that college gymnastics is the end of the road for almost all student-athletes. The ones who have completed their degrees (like Maya Bordas) will almost surely move on with their life. I am not sure if Milan Clausi and/or Grace Quinn still need more time to finish their degrees and/or line up their first jobs, but we will probably find out if they might come back before the end of the spring semester.
Cal Women’s Gymnastics’ motto has been “one day better” for the past decade-plus. It is easy to think the program will continue to improve, and the California Golden Bears might just be one of the final “Four on the Floor” in the near future.
Cal Men’s Gymnastics at NCAA Championships this weekend
Heading to Norman, Oklahoma this weekend is Cal Men’s Gymnastics for the NCAA Championships.
A quick reminder, men’s collegiate gymnastics is scored in the same way as the Olympics where the points awarded for skills are not capped at 10.0. Instead, if one can perform harder tricks, they can score more points.
By this kind of scoring, although Cal Men’s Gymnastics is also ranked No.9 in the country like the Women, the gap between them by their NQA of 393.175 and that of No.1 Stanford at 415.763 is basically insurmountable.
The Bears are coming off a 3rd place at the MPSF Championship where they finished behind No.1 Stanford and No.2 Oklahoma.
Noah Newfeld and Yu-Chen Lee are the only all-around on the team, capable of performing in all 6 apparatuses. Newfeld is the best on parallel bars while Lee is the top Bear on floor. Caleb Richard is the best Bear on both vault and high bar.
Cal Rugby hosts Central Washington in National Quarterfinal on Saturday
After a bye this past weekend, Cal will face Central Washington in the D1A Rugby Quarterfinals. Central Washington defeated Cal Poly 62-17 to earn the right to challenge the Golden Bears in Berkeley this Saturday. The winner will play the winner between BYU (who defeated Arizona 59-13 in the first round) and Saint Mary’s on April 23rd for the right to go to Houston, TX for the national championship match on April 30th.
Out East, Life got past Navy 26-13 and will next face East’s top seed in Army. Arkansas State will battle Lindenwood in the last quarterfinals. The full bracket could be found at the bottom of my post a couple of weeks ago.
Cal had defeated Central Washington 48-19 earlier this season. Still, expect the Bears to not overlook the Wildcats for a potential East Bay rematch against SMC in the next round.
Cal Track and Field set more records
Cal’s throwing team is so good that it is not just two-time defending NCAA hammer-throw champion and 2021 Toky “Calympian” Camryn Rogers by herself. In Brutus Hamilton Invitational last weekend, both Rogers and Anna Purchase broke the 70-meter mark at the same meet. This was the first NCAA meet where two women from the same school had broken the 70-meter threshold.
Purchase’s new PR of 70.63m makes her the second-best Great Britain hammer thrower in history. The junior also had the top toss by a Great Britain athlete this year.
Camryn Rogers’s toss of 74.80m is a new Edwards Stadium record. This was also the second-best throw in the world this year.
Both Cal men's and women’s outdoor track and field are ranked No.15 in the country. This means that there are other notable student-athletes beyond just Rogers and Purchase.
That could have been the day's only big story for Cal, but the women's sprinters had other ideas. In the 4x100m relay, Jada Hicks, Ezinne Abba, Maisie Stevens and Aysha Shaheed combined for a time of 44.25, breaking an 18-year-old program record. Even after that, Abba was not finished – she blazed to a time of 22.99 in the 200m dash, the second-fastest in program history and the fastest at standard altitude.
In total, the Bears recorded 6 top-10 program marks, 20 event wins and 28 personal records at Saturday's meet.
Ivar Moisander started off the meet with a win for Cal, recording a lifetime-best 66.40m (217-10) to move to fourth in program history. The men's shot putters also impressed by posting a podium sweep, as Josh Johnson (19.63m/64-5), Jake Porter (18.03m/59-2) and Iffy Joyner (17.65m/57-11) went one-two-three in the event. In the pole vault, Tyler Burns moved up to a tie for eighth in program history with a personal-best 5.21m (17-1); on the track, Jaden Rosenthal (3:50.95), Cole Sawires Yager (3:51.83) and Carrick Denker (3:53.97) controlled the top three spots in the 1500m run. Meanwhile, the men's 4x100m relay squad of Kamau Carlisle, George Monroe, Christian Catlin and David Foster inched ever closer to their own spot in the record books with a winning time of 40.05. Foster himself raced to a PR of 10.42 in the 100m dash, sixth-fastest in Cal history, while the men's discus featured another podium sweep of Mykolas Alekna (64.97m/213-2), Iffy Joyner (60.87m/199-8) and Josh Johnson (55.67m/182-7).
On the women's side, Jasmine Blair completed the hammer podium sweep for the Bears with her third-place 57.87m (189-10), then dominated in the discus throw with a winning heave of 54.11m (177-6); following that, a trio of seniors finished one-two-three in the 1500m: Marea Zlatunich (4:27.72), Meredith Corda (4:29.60) and Jessica Nye (4:30.77). Ijeoma Uche broke six meters to win the long jump with a mark of 6.01m (19-8.75), a personal record for her at Cal. Both Aly Conyers (54.72) and Ryan Lacefield (56.26) set personal records in the 400m dash, respectively finishing first and second in the race.
Up next it’s a split team action for the Bears this weekend before the Big Meet at Stanford on April 30th. The Pac-12 Championships hosted by Oregon, in the house that Nike money built, will be May 13-15.
Cal Baseball bounced back from another blown lead loss to take the series vs. Washington
Cal Baseball (16-16, 7-8 in Pac-12) is finally on a three-game winning streak after bouncing back from dropping Friday’s opener to UW. Cal Bears won the last two to take the series before routing SMC on Monday. Bears will visit Washington State (12-19, 4-11 in Pac-12) this weekend.
Cal 1st baseman Nathan Martorella was named Pac-12 Baseball Player of the Week for April 11. Seven of the junior's 10 hits against Cal Poly and Washington went for extra bases, including two home runs and his first career triple (all three are in the highlight video below).
Cal 4, Washington 6
Mike Neu used Ian May (1 IP) and Steven Zobac (2 IP) ahead of usual Friday starter Josh White. This move appeared to be working as the Bears had a 4-0 lead going to the 7th, but White’s bid for his first win of the season became doomed by some poor Cal defense. Two errors around two walks, a single, and three doubles gave Washington a 5-run inning. It was yet another demoralizing late-game collapse by the inconsistent Cal pitching in 2022.
But the Bears will not hang their heads for long.
Cal 6, Washington 3
Behind a strong pitching performance from Joseph King, Cal evened the series. Cal hit three homers with one apiece from Souto, Martorella, and Ogans. UW made things interesting but only scored 2-runs in T9 against Christian Becerra.
Cal 14, Washington 5
An early 4-0 Cal lead was wiped out to make it a 5-5 game going to the bottom of the 4th. Bears scored 4 in B4 and 5 in B5 to win their 2nd Pac-12 series of the season (the other one was at USC).
Other than Martorella (3 for 5, 3 runs scored, 1 RBI), Caleb Lomavita (4 for 5, 3 runs scored, 3 RBIs) also had a big game. Sam Stoutenborough pitched 6 scoreless innings in relief to seal this series.
Cal 6, SMC 0
Aaron Roberts (2 IP), Tucker Bougie (4 IP), and Connor Sullivan (3 IP) combined for the shutout. Martorella and Trevor Tishenkel went yard for the Bears.
Cal Women’s Water Polo (15-3, 3-2 in MPSF) will visit Stanford for the Big Splash this Saturday before the MPSF tournament in LA the following weekend. Most recently, No.4 Cal lost to No.6 UC Irvine in OT and lost that ranking as well. Bears will need a major win (or two) to earn their spot (the 3rd and final at-large bid IF they can regain the No.4 ranking) in the NCAA Championships, hosted by Michigan in Ann Arbor on May 6-8.
Cal Softball (22-17, 4-8 in Pac-12) snapped a 5-game losing streak to win the opener at Utah. Playing without star Makena Smith (broadcast said she was “day-to-day” but she has not played since March 26th), Cal Bears were shut out for the entire series by No.23 Oregon State two weekends ago. They bounced back to take the first game from Utah before dropping the next two. Bears will host Stanford in Berkeley this weekend.
Cal Beach Volleyball (20-9, 1-2 in Pac-12) has missed star Mima Mirkovic for the last 9 matches where they went 5-4. Mirkovic had teamed with graduate transfer Ana Costa (from Stetson) as the new No.1 before the lineup had to be reshuffled. Most recently, No.12 Cal dropped a tightly contested match to No.9 Stanford.
Cal Rowing: No.3 (likely to drop in the next poll) Cal Women struggled in Las Vegas under windy conditions but they will challenge Washington one-on-one this weekend. Cal had also lost to No.1 Texas in San Diego earlier this season, but there is still time for optimism that the Bears could improve by the NCAA championships to challenge for the title. No.3 Cal men will have their first major challenge also this weekend when they race No.2 UW in Oakland.
Cal Tennis: Men (11-8, 2-5 in Pac-12) recently snapped a 5 dual losing streak by beating UW. Women (14-6, 7-1 in Pac-12) are in a better position after a pair of 4-3 wins over the Washington schools. No.9 Cal women will co-host with the No.43 Cal men on Saturday rival Stanford (14th men, 17th women) in the Big Slam.
Cal Golf: No.52 Cal Women have competed in 6 events this spring, finishing in 12th (out of 14), 8th (out of 11), 5th (out of 13), 11th (out of 16th), 6th (out of 15th), and T13 (out of 16th). Pac-12 Championships hosted by Oregon next Monday-Wednesday is next. No.80 Cal Men is competing in their final regular-season tournament this week - the Western Intercollegiate on Golf Channel. Bears have had some strong individual performances with Aaron Du winning John Burns Intercollegiate and Sampson Zheng finishing 3rd at The Goodwin. Pac-12 Championships will be April 25-27 from Washington.
Cal Lacrosse will not go winless in 2022 after beating Oregon 14-12 on April 1st. Fifth-year senior Nikki Zaccaro became Cal's all-time leader for games played with her 76th game recently. Zaccaro had also become Cal’s all-time leader in assists when she recorded her 84th one against Colorado.