Cal Women's Gymnastics stays undefeated after beating No.3 Utah
And the rest of the Cal Athletics results from this past week
Result of the Week:
Cal Women’s Gymnastics 197.525, Utah Red Rocks 197.275
Despite not being at full strength (both senior Milan Clausi and freshman Mya Lauzon were out due to sickness to deny Cal 6 routines from their regular lineup), Cal Women’s Gymnastics (5-0, 4-0 in Pac-12) posted their best team score of the season in front of a big home crowd this past Saturday afternoon. The Golden Bears were able to rally in their last rotation to edge college gymnastics powerhouse Utah Red Rocks. Cal becomes the lone undefeated team in the Pac-12 and is in control to win the program’s first Pac-12 title of any kind (since 2020, the Pac-12 now awards both a regular season and a separate conference championship titles).
Looking ahead at Cal’s Pac-12 schedule, the Bears will host Arizona next Monday before finishing the conference schedule at Arizona State and then close at the maddeningly talented but somewhat inconsistent UCLA (yes, circle that March 6th meet at Pauley Pavilion).
Even without a couple of rotation regulars on vault and floor, Cal was able to put up a pair of top-10 team rotation scores in history on those two apparatuses to earn the 7th-best team score in program history of 197.525. This program continues to rewrite its history book on a weekly basis. If they can maintain the steady improvement from week to week and maintain their nerve with the stakes getting higher, a brand new history of winning a first Pac-12 title looks rather plausible in 2022.
With plenty of heroes all over the lineup, sophomore Andi Li led the way with her brilliant all-around performance. Although her performance was overshadowed by Oregon State’s USA Olympian freshman Jade Carey for the weekly conference award, Li posted a near-perfect 9.95 score on both floor exercise and uneven bars. Andi Li had the best uneven bars score in a field that included both of the reigning co-NCAA champions: Utah’s Maile O’Keefe and Cal’s Maya Bordas.
Cal opened the meet on vault, where they had been somewhat inconsistent before Saturday. Junior Navaeh DeSouza had a career-best 9.95 on vault. 5th-year senior Nina Schank got a 9.90 as well. Unexpectedly, the Bears set a new season-high on this apparatus even with two regulars missing.
Sophomore Gabby Perea, arguably as highly-touted as a recruit as Andi Li, had been limited to only exhibition routines due to injuries until now. Perea finally made her collegiate debut and earned a fantastic 9.90 score. The already loaded Cal uneven bars rotation just got another big weapon. Freshman Madelyn Williams also got a 9.90 on the bars.
Although the Bears had a slim lead at the half, Utah took the lead in the third rotation with a strong floor performance. A combination of some tough scoring and then wobbles also cost the Bears on the balance beam rotation. Nonetheless, the Bears got 9.90 from both DeSouza and Li.
Down to the final rotation in a close meet, Cal put some scoreboard pressure by earning three straight 9.90 from Schank, DeSouza, and Maya Bordas to open the last rotation. Li then followed with a 9.95.
Falls on both of Utah’s 4th and 5th beam routines meant that one of those scores had to count, and the Golden Bears will take this meet. Cal will probably need a better score than just 197.525 at the Pac-12 Championships in Utah (even if it is at the Maverik Center rather than the Red Rocks’ home gym) to beat them again, but this team is certainly capable of scoring even higher, perhaps even surpassing the 198 point mark on a regular basis.
Elsewhere in the Bear Territories
I will use this space to list all of the results while highlighting the selected few that I actually got the chance to follow. The hope is that all the programs will get some special attention at one point or another.
Cal Women’s Tennis (5-3) lost in the ITA Indoors Quarterfinals
Round of 16: Cal 4, Texas A&M 3
Hannah Viller Moeller was able to win a marathon singles match that took about 3 hours at No.6 singles to allow the Golden Bears to advance. Playing her patented defensive style, Viller Moeller was able to rebound from dropping her first set and forcing enough mistakes from her freshman opponent to get the win on the third-set tiebreaker.
After dropping the doubles point, Cal was able to win on singles No.1 (Haley Giavara), No.4 (Julia Rosenqvist), and No.5 (left-handed freshman standout Katja Wiersholm, who might have experiences belie her young age since her older brother Henrik had won three NCAA team titles with Virginia).
Elite 8: Cal 1, Pepperdine 4
Recovering from the poor doubles performance of the previous day, Cal earned the doubles point in this battle of the 4th and 5th seed of the tournament. Cal only earned such a high seed because they were able to edge then No.2 Pepperdine on a windy outdoor dual a few weeks ago.
In singles, things looked good in this rematch against Pepperdine as the Cal Bears won three first sets. However, the Waves were able to turn things around in both No.1 and No.2 singles to win those sets in three. Valentina Ivanov was looking to close things out at No.2 when her backhand just went away all of the sudden, she and Cal could not recover from this.
Both of the Cal freshmen, Jessica Alsola (who rallied after losing a heartbreaking first set 16-14 in the tiebreaker) on No.3 and Katja Wiersholm on No.5 were battling in the third set when the dual was decided.
Consolation: Cal 2, Texas 4
Shockingly, No.1 Texas was upset by 8th-seed Oklahoma in their quarterfinal. Cal took the doubles point against the Longhorns. Katja Wiersholm won her singles match again to give Cal another point in the dual, but that was all from the indoor confines of Madison, Wisconsin.
Cal Women’s Tennis had a decent shot at winning the program’s 2nd ITA Indoor national championship thanks to a favorable draw, but it was not meant to be. North Carolina eventually beat Oklahoma for their 3rd straight ITA Indoors title. Unfortunately, Cal is probably playing close to its peak now while many of the other national championship contenders are expected to get even stronger by the time of the NCAA Championships. Nonetheless, the Golden Bears could realistically win another Pac-12 title and hover around No.10 in the national rankings as a team to set themselves up for an NCAA team championship run as a darkhorse in that tournament.
Cal Softball (4-1)
Cal 10, San Diego 3
Cal 12, Dixie State 7
Cal 0, Ole Miss 1 (6-innings only due to time)
Cal 7, Fullerton 3
Cal 2, Colorado State 1 (9-innings)
The two freshmen pitchers Anna Reimers and Annabel Teperson tied for the team lead with 11.1 IP over the 5 games, but it is way too early to determine if they could handle the tough Pac-12 play.
While the strong start from star catcher Makena Smith (0.500/0.650/0.714 with a homer) was expected, Tatum Anzaldo had an even better weekend (0.556/0.619/0.722 with a homer). Kacey Zobac (0.455/0.538/0.818 with a homer), Sona Halajian (0.400/0.444/0.467), and Alexis Bishop (0.286 BA with 2 homers) also deserve shoutouts.
Cal Women’s Swimming and Diving 133, Stanford 167
Cal Bears battled hard and made this meet a lot closer than expected. Isabel Ivey won three events (200y Free, 100y Free, 200y IM) on Senior Day. Fellow senior and “Calympian” Ema Rajic won 100y Breast. Isabelle Stadden won 100y Back. Leah Polonsky had the other Cal win in 200y Breast, but Stanford took the rest, including dominating on the two diving events.
The Pac-12 Championships are next for the Cal Bears. Cal won the 2021 Pac-12 title but Stanford has since (re)gained a number of impact Olympians such as Regan Smith, Torri Huske, and Taylor Ruck to join Brooke Forde.
Cal Men’s Gymnastics 391.300, Stanford 415.350
No.1 Stanford won the Big Flip as expected. Cal did have some bright spots including pommel horse specialist sophomore Aiden Li posted the 3rd best score in modern Cal history with a 13.900.
The difference in scoring between men’s collegiate gymnastics and the women’s meant that the chance of a big Cal upset was essentially zero since Stanford is capable of much more difficult routines and could afford to fail in a bunch of them and still win.
Cal Track and Field
It was a split-squad weekend for Cal Track and Field with the field and sprint members at the Don Kirby Elite Invitational in Albuquerque, NM while the distance runners raced at the Husky Classic in Seattle, WA.
Aysha Shaheed set the 4th best 200m dash time in Cal history as 12 new entries into Cal top-10 were made. While they did not win those events, David Foster in 60m Dash and Ben Micallef in 800m Run have each set the 2nd best times in Cal history.
The Bears will return to Seattle on Feb 25-26 for the Pac-12 Invitational, which acts as a stand-in for this year's canceled MPSF Indoor Championship.
Cal Women’s Basketball (10-8, 1-6 in Pac-12)
Cal 56, Colorado 73
Cal 75, Utah 80 (OT)
Four games into the restart of the season and the Bears have played three competitive games that could have swung either way. Two or three more this week would be just dandy.
After no games for several weeks earlier this season, it was a very disturbing sign that the Wednesday game vs. Arizona State has been canceled. However, it would appear that the problem is not on Cal’s side because they have just scheduled a replacement game against Cal State LA.
Cal Women’s Golf
Cal finished 12th out of 14 teams at the Lamkin Invitational over the weekend. With a combined score of a not-so-nice +69 over the three rounds, the Bears are 60 shots behind winner San Jose State and 57 shots behind runner-up Stanford.
Jasmine Lew was the top Bear by finishing 44th (out of 75 total golfers).
Cal Lacrosse (0-2)
Cal 10, Navy 18
Cal 5, No.11 Virginia 18
Junior Amanda Morse, who scored 16 goals off the bench last year, led the way with 5 goals and an assist for the Bears. Cal graduated a lot of offense from a team that only went 2-16, 0-10 in Pac-12 last year. There will be plenty of opportunities for some young players to step up.