Cal Women's Gymnastics wows at Super 16, breaks program record for season-opener score
Talented underclassmen allowed No.8 Cal to finish 2nd overall at a stacked field in Las Vegas ahead of teams such as No.4 Michigan, No.5 Auburn
Although Cal Women’s Gymnastics graduated a special group of gymnasts (Maya Bordas, Milan Clausi, Grace Quinn, and 5th-years Nina Schank, Kyana George, and Emi Watterson) who brought the program to a new height, the program appears on track to continue its “one day better” mantra and make a run at the final “Four on the Floor” in 2023.
Allowing its talented sophomore class to shine more and slowly integrating the 4th-ranked freshman class according to College Gymn News, California Golden Bears had no problem replacing 10 of 24 routines from the end of last year in the 2023 season opener. Bears put on a show at the inaugural Super 16 in Las Vegas, placing first in their session ahead of Iowa, Arizona State, and BYU.
When factoring all four sessions, only the defending NCAA champs, Oklahoma, could beat Cal’s team score of 197.475. Cal set yet another program record for their season opener. This score is also the current 11th best in program history, though it should quickly slide down the list if everything goes according to plan this year.
If you did not have B1G+, Cal’s meet could be found on YouTube (for now) which is embedded below. Cal fans should especially seek out the debut of freshman eMjae Frazier, particularly her beam (1:07.45) and floor (1:45.57) routines to bounce back in a big way from a mediocre vault and an uneven bars fall (she got back on and had a perfect landing).
As expected, senior Naveah DeSouza and junior Andi Li continued to provide steady scores as all-arounders to lead the Bears. Li’s 39.450 led the session. She flirted with a perfect 10 for her uneven bars routine (44.15 mark in the video) that earned 9.950 (10 from one of the two judges).
Sophomores Maddie Williams and Mya Lauzon as well as junior Gabby Perea each competed in three events. Fellow sophomore Ella Cesario made her debut (I believe) by competing in vault and bars. While eMjae Frasier was the lone freshman to debut on Saturday, fellow classmates Miki Aderinto and Casey Brown are capable of doing the all-around with Jayden Silvers, who graduated high school early to join the squad this semester, a potential factor in the floor rotation.
Cal clearly could improve on their vault, having to count two scores below 9.8. Currently, the Bears have three vaults with a 10.0 starting value; this could change later in the season as some gymnasts may be ramping up to harder routines.
Despite losing assistant coach Janelle McDonald to UCLA as their new head coach, Cal maintained a great uneven bars rotation.
Frazier and Williams led the way in the balance beam.
Frazier added another near-perfect routine to close out her collegiate debut. The arguably best recruit in program history has certainly lived up to the hype.
Cal finished the NCAA women’s gymnastics opening weekend with the third-best score (197.75) in the country behind only Oklahoma (197.925) and Florida (197.750). Out of the stacked Super 16 field, Cal finished second overall with a better score than Michigan (197.400), Auburn (197.350), and UCLA (197.275).
The best news is that it is easy to see where Cal could improve to consistently threaten a score in the 148 possibly this year. If the Bears could achieve that, they just might make it to the final session of the year (now televised on national TV) as one of the Final Four teams left for the first time in program history.
Be sure to go check out this team at Haas Pavilion, if you can. Bears will next compete at the Wasatch Classic in Utah before opening Pac-12 action at Arizona. They host Stanford on January 28th in their home opener.