California Travels to Oregon State to Open the 2007 Season
Jan. 17, 2007
The California Golden Bear women's gymnastics team opens the 2007 season on the road against No. 21 Oregon State in Corvallis, Ore., on Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. (PT). The Bears finished the 2006 season 8-17, with only one individual advancing to the NCAA West Regional.
After not being ranked at the conclusion of last season, the Golden Bears received votes in the Preseason Coaches poll. About the rankings: Unlike other rankings, college gymnastics rankings are not based on wins or losses or votes. The teams are ranked by their meet scores alone.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION:
NO. 21 OREGON STATE:
Oregon State enters the meet against the Golden Bears 0-1, after falling to No. 3 Florida 193.800-196.850. Sophomore Jami Lanz finished second in the all-around competition, with her score of 39.125. Lanz posted a 9.825 on the vault and floor, 9.750 on the bars and 9.725 on the beam. The Beavers, who reached nationals for the first time since 2002, finished the 11th at the 2006 NCAA Championships. Oregon State holds a 23-4 advantage over Cal.
2006 SEASON OUTLOOK
There is a new vibe over the California women's gymnastics team this year. They have a new motto, we treat every day like it is the NCAA Championships and we treat the NCAA Championships like it is everyday. Fourteen years ago, the women's gymnastics team earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships out of the West Regional hosted at Haas Pavilion. Flash forward to the current day - the budding team is hosting the West Regional again in Haas Pavilion. It's an opportunity for the Golden Bears to prove they again are the team to beat. After a disappointing finish last season (seventh in the Pac-10 Conference), the team is back on track with 13 improved returnees and three newcomers.
The senior class of Isabel Garcia, Justine Cephus and Elyse Wong, looks more improved than they've ever been at Cal and are expected to have an outstanding year. Garcia, who earned a scholarship for her final year, posted a career-high of 9.8 on vault twice last season. She will still be one of the Bears top contenders on the vault, beam and floor this season. Cephus, who was very consistent for the Bears last season on the beam, is back to full health and training all-around again this season. On the beam last year, Cephus posted a career-high 9.75 three times. She also earned a 9.7 (career-high) against Stanford on the floor. Last season Wong competed twice for the Bears on the floor. This season Wong will have more opportunities in the competitions. Wong is fully back training in her three events (bars, balance beam and floor) and shows a lot of improvement. As a freshman, Wong posted a career-high 9.875 on the floor and 9.7 on the vault. During her sophomore season she recorded a career-high 9.725 on the beam.
As a tight bunch of sophomores Siobhan Luce, Keiko Nakamura, Alli Szutu and Nicki Wells went into the summer with the commitment to improve. After a several months of intense training, the four juniors are more ready than ever. A consistent all-arounder for the Bears last season, Siobhan Luce recorded a career-high against San Jose State of 38.725 last season. Luce also set new career-highs on the bars (9.825) and on the floor (9.75). This season Nakamura has added new moves into her beam routine, which saw her post a career-high 9.725 against West Virginia and Pittsburgh last season. On the floor, Szutu was one of the Bears' strongest competitors. Szutu, posted a career-high 9.7 against San Jose State last season. She also improved her vault over the season, competing in the event six times. Well continues to be the workhorse she has always been, pushing herself each day in the gym. She recorded a career-high 9.85 twice last season. Wells is aiming towards staying more consistent and working towards making her last two collegiate seasons the best.
Entering last season, DuBois didn't know what to completely expect from her newcomers. But several proved to be highly critical in the emergence of the team in the latter portion of the season. Jessica Kelley, an all-arounder, posted several top scores for freshmen in the all-around competition. Kelley competed in six all-around competitions before she was sidelined for the rest of the season. At CSU Fullerton, Kelley won the all-around competition with her career-best 38.95 score. On the bars last season, Joanna Bennett posted the team's second-best score of 9.875 against UCLA, Sacramento State and UC Davis. The Healdsburg native also dabbed in vaulting last season posting a career-high 9.575 against Arizona State. Lydia Williams, a Canadian native, posted a career-high 9.85 on the bars last season and on the beam was marked at a career-high 9.8 twice during the season. In only four competitions last season, Bridgette Glass posted a career-high 9.8 against San Jose State on the bars. Sidelined most of the season last year because of an injury, Glass is back on track and expected to be on the Bears' strongest competitor in the all-around competitions. On the beam last year, Tiffany Tam collected her career-high 9.75 against San Jose State. Tam has a unique mount on the beam that DuBois is very impressed by. Vanna Rocchi, who did not see time last season, still is focusing on the bars. Kendall Zdvorak, posted a 9.375 in an exhibition on the vault in the first competition of the year. A hard woker, Zdvorak, looks to break into the lineup this season.
The freshmen class of Sophia Hocini, Nicole Day and Nicola Cashman are a nice addition for Cal this season. Hocini, was the 2005 level 10 national vault and all-around champion. She also was a Junior Olympic national team member in 2005. Day, a native of Cerritos, Calif., is a five-time level 10 state and regional champion in the all-around competition. Cashman, a walk-on, was a nice surprise for the Bears this season.
SCHEDULING THE BEST
Once again, the Pac-10 gymnastics schedule will be one of the most competitive of any conference. 'The Pac-10 will be competitive, as always,' Cari DuBois said. 'I try not to worry about the other teams. We need to go out and do what we do on a daily basis. We are the only ones that can control our performances.' The team will make non-conference stops at Denver and Air Force. The Bears will wrap up the season with the Northern California Challenge against UC Davis, Sacramento State and San Jose State.
The senior class of Isabel Garcia, Justine Cephus and Elyse Wong look to step it up in their final year and led the team into the NCAA Championships. Garcia, a threat on the vault, posted her career-high of 9.800 on the vault twice last season. Cephus recorded several 9.700 on the beam last season for the Bears. And Wong looks the best she ever has entering this season, with hopes of competing all-around.
Last year they were newcomers. With a year of experience behind them, the sophomores look to jump onto the national scene. Led by Jessica Kelley, Joanna Bennett and Bridgett Glass, the class produced some of the best scores last season. Kelly won the all-around competition at Cal State Fullerton with her impressive career-high of 38.950. Bennett posted a career-high of 9.875 on the bars against UCLA, Sacramento State and UC Davis. Glass, who was sidelined for most of the year, returned to post an amazing 9.800 in only her third collegiate meet.
In November, head coach Cari DuBois announced the signing of Stefanie Cheng (San Jose, Calif./Saint Francis High School) and Avery Gee (Los Altos, Calif./Los Altos High School). Both will attend the University of California in the fall of 2007.
In her fifth year at California, head coach Cari DuBois has already reshaped the women's gymnastics program from the day she arrived on campus. DuBois has posted a 35-40 record at Cal. Also she was named the 2003 Pac-10 Co-Coach of the year and the 2003 West Regional Coach of the Year. In her short tenure, DuBois has guided the Bears to their first back-to-back dual-meet winning seasons since 1991-92 and led the 2003 Cal team to its highest NCAA Regional finish (fourth) since 1992. A year later, Cal finished fifth at the NCAA Regionals, the program's best back-to-back postseason showings since 1991-92. Prior to coming to Berkeley, DuBois worked as an assistant for nine years (six at West Virginia and three at Cal under Alfie Mitchell). DuBois also has spent time instructing and choreographing routines at several gymnastics camps and clubs nationwide. DuBois graduated from Ball State in 1992 with a degree in exercise science and wellness and holds a master's degree in athletic coaching from West Virginia. Scott Ryan, in his second year at Cal, was hired in August 2005 to assist DuBois. Ryan served as the director and head coach at Aztec Gymnastics in San Diego, Calif., prior to his hiring at Cal. While at Aztec Gymnastics, Ryan led his teams to 33 state and regional championships in the state of California and national championships in both the United States and Mexico. Also, 18 of his gymnasts earned college gymnastics scholarships.
California will return home to host Stanford at Haas Pavilion, on Feb. 4 at 2 p.m. (PT).