No. 8 Cal Earns Commanding Win In Season Opener
BERKELEY – For the first time in 335 days, the California women's gymnastics team took to the gym at Haas Pavilion. The Bears claimed the season opener over Air Force by a score of 195.75-188.95.
Kyana George had a dominant meet as the senior won the all-around competition with a score of 39.375. She claimed individual titles on the floor, beam and vault. George had a 9.825 on vault, a 9.800 on bars before finishing with 9.875 scores on both the beam and floor. George had 17 event titles during the abbreviated 2020 season, and added four more including the all-around on Saturday to bring her career total to 31 event wins.
"First and foremost, we are incredibly grateful that we got to compete, it was exciting to be doing gymnastics again," Head Coach Justin Howell said. "We are appreciative of all of the hard work that everyone in this program and university have put in for us to be able to start our season. It was a very different vibe with us not being able to compete in front of fans. We did everything we can to create our own energy and our team said it felt very normal because it was kind of like a practice."
Nevaeh DeSouza took second place in the all-around with a score of 39.250. She hit at least 9.750 on all four of her routines, including a top score of 9.875 on the uneven bars. She had top three scores on the bars, beam and floor.
Nina Schank won her fourth career event title with a 9.900 on the uneven bars. It was Schank's second title on the bars, previously she won the title vs. Washington at last year's meet with a 9.925. The 9.900 also represented Cal's top score of the day. Schank finished in third place in the all-around as she totaled a 38.925.
"This year, we have been limited in the hours we can do strength & conditioning and cardiovascular training, Howell said. "We didn't start practicing until October which is late for us and we felt some of that today. I was impressed with our seniors and our veteran leaders. I think they did an excellent job today."
After dealing with injuries for most of last year, Natalie Sadighi shared the vault title with George by anchoring the lineup with a 9.825.
Abi Solari competed for the first time in more than two years as she recorded a 9.625 in the final routine of the meet.
"It was great to see Abi out there, doing a beautiful floor routine at the end of the meet. It was also great to have Natalie competing on vault. She was injured last year and has come back to train all four events. We made a switch at the last minute to put her in there and she ended up winning the vault, which was amazing to see."
"We have a really talented freshman class and they've all been battling injuries that they're coming back from, Howell said. "It was great to see Andi Li and Gabby Perea get out there, get their first collegiate experience. But they're a couple of weeks away from being in competitive form."
Li competed on both the bars and beam while Perea exhibitioned on the beam.
The Bears were 24-for-24 on their routines, hitting on every routine despite the long layoff between competitions.
The Bears return to action next weekend as they travel to Arizona to open Pac-12 play. The Bears will take on the Wildcats at 1 p.m. on Saturday at McKale Center.
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