No. 8 California Hosts No. 12 Army At Haas This Saturday
BERKELEY – The pressure on any student-athlete making their collegiate debut as a true freshman is nerve-racking enough in a normal season.
Competing in a virtual meet with no fans and saluting a monitor instead of an in-person judge added a little more pressure on Noah Newfeld and the seven other California men's gymnasts who made their debuts last Saturday against Arizona State. Luckily for the rookies, they helped propel the No. 8 Golden Bears past the Sun Devils and get the 2021 campaign off on the right foot.
Newfeld, in particular, scored in all five events he participated in.
"I was pretty happy with how I did," Newfeld said. "I was pretty nervous going into it, especially being on five events, that was a lot of pressure. With the hype from the team, it was easy to get in the right mindset. I was proud of how I did. I just want to maintain that for future meets."
The next meet for Newfeld will be another virtual meet against No. 12 Army Saturday, Feb. 6, at 2 p.m. from Haas Pavilion.
Fans should click here to view the meet. Due to local health guidelines, fans are not allowed to attend home meets.
Newfeld and fellow true freshman Aidan Li gave the Bears a boost on pommel horse – an offseason goal of head coach JT Okada's. After Li's team-best mark of 13.500, Newfeld was second on the team with his score of 13.050.
A native of Plano, Texas, Newfeld also enjoyed marks of 12.950 on parallel bars and 12.800 on rings.
"Some of us definitely felt nervous, especially because we had less time to train for our season this year," Newfeld said. "We were nervous about how we'd start, but we were all proud with how well we did."
Despite the early jitters, Newfeld found relief quickly when he arrived at Golden Bear Rec last Saturday. Competing inside Cal's training facility felt like a practice when he entered the gym. Being one of eight freshmen in the mix at the outset of the season helped put him at ease. In addition, although he and the rest of the Bears couldn't hear the support of fans in attendance, Newfeld felt the team did a great job of creating positive energy that continued throughout the meet.
"It was weird competing and saluting routines to a camera with nobody cheering except my teammates," Newfeld said. "The team made up for it with our hype and trying to get as loud as we can for each other. This weekend, being in Haas, it will feel more like a regular competition."
Besides the differences this season due to safety protocols, the energy from the team has assisted Newfeld and the fellow freshmen in acclimating to the new challenges of increased difficulty of routines, training regimens and other adjustments at the collegiate level.
Newfeld and the Bears will bring that energy into Haas Pavilion this Saturday against an Army team that Cal is undefeated against in program history (7-0), with the most-recent meeting taking place in 2016.
"I'm excited. I've never trained or competed inside Haas, so I think it will be a really fun meet," Newfeld said. "I'm excited to see how the different setting will affect our routines. It puts a little bit more pressure on when you're in a building like Haas."
Cal stays in Berkeley next week, hosting Bay Area rival Stanford on Saturday, Feb. 13, at 4 p.m. from Golden Bear Rec. The meet will be a virtual meet with no fans allowed to attend due to current health protocols.
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