Cal Opens Season against UC Davis/Towson

Jan. 8, 2008

BERKELEY -

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Bears Open Campaign Close To Home
The California women's gymnastics team opens the 2008 season this week in a tri-meet at UC Davis against the Aggies and Towson Friday, Jan. 11, at 6 p.m. in Davis, Calif. Cal advanced to the NCAA West Regional last year for the first time as a team since 2004. The Golden Bears made the postseason after garnering a regular-season record of 8-9.

Preseason Rankings
The Bears, who ended the 2007 campaign ranked No. 26, received votes in the Troester preseason poll. Five Pac-10 teams made the Top 25 (UCLA 4, Stanford 5, Oregon State 11, Arizona 12, Arizona State 18). Washington also earned votes. Georgia tops the chart at No. 1 with 28 first-place votes.

Spectacular Seniors
Cal's experienced seniors of Siobhan Luce, Keiko Nakamura, Alli Szutu and Nicki Wells look to put an exclamation mark to their collegiate careers in 2008. Luce posted a career-high score of 9.8 on bars at the Pac-10 championships. Because of Luce's work ethic and consistency, her leadership role is a key ingredient to the Bears' success.
A captain on last year's squad, Nakamura showed that she can be a vocal leader and a leader by example. Despite having off-season surgery, not only will Nakamura be ready to compete, she has been nailing beam routines since her return to practice.
According to Cal head coach Cari DuBois, Szutu is due for a breakout season. Szutu was solid on vault and floor in 2006 and hopes to continue that success this season.
Wells continues to be the workhorse she has always been, pushing herself each day in the gym. She showed that effort after recording a season-high 9.825 in the tri-meet last year against Denver and BYU.

Pink Meet
One Cal home meet will once again be designated as the women's gymnastics' breast cancer awareness meet. The 2008 Pink Meet will be the Feb. 10 contest against No. 11 Oregon State. The Golden Bear gymnasts will solicit flat donations or pledges for every Cal score of 9.5 and above. Cal will donate all money earned to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Bay Area affiliate in the hopes of raising funds to eradicate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease through research, education, screening and treatment. Fans are encouraged to wear pink and 'pink-out' Haas Pavilion, while the Bears don pink leotards for the event.

Scouting the Aggies
UC Davis has 11 letterwinners returning from a team that finished in second place in the MPSF a year ago. John Lavallee begins his second campaign as Aggies head coach after finishing the 2007 season with a record of 10-11. This is one of three meetings between Cal and the Aggies this season. The teams will also face each other on March 7 and March 16, both of which are quad meets.

Scouting the Tigers Towson, the three-time Eastern College Athletic Conference champion returns some key gymnasts in 2007 in Christina Ghani and Decelia Willacy. Ghani earned ECAC Gymnast of the Year honors in 2005 and 2006, while Willacy was the ECAC all-around champion a year ago. Dick Filbert enters his 26th season as Tigers head coach with an impressive record of 438-131-2.

Cal Inks Two Newcomers For 2009 Shana Johnson (Castro Valley / Bishop O'Dowd High School) and Erica Varon (Torrance / Redondo Union High School) have signed National Letters of Intent to attend Cal in the fall of 2008.
Johnson, a member of the Novato Gymnastics Club, finished second at the 2005 Level 9 Westerns on vault and floor. One week before competing at the 2007 regionals, Johnson dislocated her left knee, but was still able to finish 13th out of 30 in the all-around. Hoping eventually to start a career in the sports medicine field, Johnson was a member of the California Scholarship Federation and made the honor roll in high school.
Varon, who intends to major in neurobiology, has twice won the California State Championship in the all-around and is a two-time Junior Olympic National qualifier. Varon competed for the Josephson Academy of Gymnastics, for which she garnered the Most Improved Award in 2001 and the Toughest Competitor Award in 2003. She earned an academic letter last year and made the Principal's High Honor Roll.

Did You Know
Prior to coming to Cal, Siobhan Luce spent the summer of 2004 interning at the office of U.S. Congressman Jim Gibbons (R-Nev.)

Up Next
Following the season opener in Davis, Cal returns to Berkeley next weekend for its home opener, which will also be the Pac-10 opener. The Bears entertain No. 18 Arizona State Sunday, Jan. 20, at 2 p.m. in Haas Pavilion.

Head Coach Cari DuBois
In her sixth year at California, head coach Cari DuBois has reshaped the women's gymnastics program from the day she arrived on campus. DuBois has posted a 46-58 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. Last season, DuBois guided the Bears to the NCAA West Regional, held at Cal's Haas Pavilion, and ended the campaign with a final ranking of 26. Earlier during her tenure, she led Cal to its first back-to-back dual-meet winning seasons since 1991-92 and led the 2003 Bears to their highest NCAA-regional finish (fourth) since 1992. In 2004, the Bears 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.

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