No. 22 Cal Set For Home Opener Against No. 23 Arizona State

Jan. 14, 2008

BERKELEY -

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Bears Kickoff Conference Play at Home
The No. 22 California women's gymnastics team hosts No. 23 Arizona State in both its home opener and the Pac-10 opener. The Golden Bears kicked off their season last Friday with a tri-meet victory over UC Davis and Towson, producing it's first 2-0 start since 2005. 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.

National Rankings
Cal cracked the Top 25 for the first time since 2005 in this week's Troester national poll, coming in at No. 22, and the Bears currently stand in fifth in the Pac-10 poll. In the national event rankings, Cal is No. 12 on beam and No. 24 on vault.

Cal Opens 2008 Season With Tri-Meet Victory
The Bears opened the 2008 campaign by defeating UC Davis and Towson in a tri-meet Friday night at The Pavilion on the campus of UC Davis. Cal finished with a final score of 192.525, as the Aggies took second with a mark of 189.350 and Towson took third with a score of 186.350. In addition to the team's success, junior Jessica Kelley claimed the all-around title with a score of 38.700.
On the uneven bars and balance beam, the Bears had three gymnasts finish in the top four. On bars, senior Siobhan Luce secured second with a score of 9.775, while junior Joanna Bennett and senior Alli Szutu took third and fourth, respectively. On beam, freshman Avery Gee scored a 9.775 to earn a second place-finish. Sophomore Sophia Hocini came in right behind Gee in third with a mark of 9.750, while Bennett claimed fourth place.

Kelley and Bennett Turn in Awesome Performances
Jessica Kelley and Joanna Bennett got their seasons off to a great start last Friday.
Kelley won the all-around title with a final score of 38.700 and took home top honors on floor, as well. She achieved her highest mark of the night on floor with a 9.775. She was solid throughout the night, scoring no lower than a 9.6 in any event. She also tied for fifth on bars with a 9.675.
Bennett's 9.825 on vault was the highest score of the night for any Cal gymnast, as she tied for first in the event. She also finished in the top five on bars and beam, taking third on bars (9.750) and fourth on beam (9.675). She finished the night with an all-around score of 37.725.

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 Sun Devils
The 2008 campaign hasn't started as smoothly as Arizona State would have liked. After finishing third in a tri-meet against fellow Pac-10 foes, UCLA and Oregon State, the Sun Devils lost to No. 11 Nebraska last weekend, 195.550-193.075. In the national stats, ASU is currently tied for ninth on beam.

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
Nicki Wells, a native of Auckland, New Zealand, moved away from home at the age of 12 to pursue her career in gymnastics. She trained at the North Harbour Gymnastics Centre in New Zealand.

Up Next
The Bears hit the road for two weeks after this Sunday's meet against the Sun Devils. They had to Washington to face the Huskies Friday, Jan. 25, at 7 p.m. and then to Tucson to face No. 12 Arizona Friday, Feb. 1, at 7:30 p.m.

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 48-58 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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