Cal Sets NCAA And Program Records In Win Over UCLA
BERKELEY – No. 9 Cal women's gymnastics tied an NCAA record on the uneven bars and set a program record all-around score en route to a 198.050-196.925 win over No. 10 UCLA.
The Bears overall score of 198.050 broke a program record, besting the previous record of 197.675 which they recorded at the 2019 NCAA Regionals. In addition to a program record and NCAA record on the uneven bars, Cal also recorded a school record on the beam and the third-best score in program history on the floor exercise. It was a comprehensive performance that ranked amongst the nation's elite, tying for the third-best score by any team in the nation this year.
"This type of performance is what we see in the gym every day," co-head coach Justin Howell said. "It's not a surprise, it's a celebration of the work that we've done and it's wonderful to get rewarded for your performances. It's also really exciting to know that we can get better. My hope is that the confidence level of our bars team is through the roof. We told them before the meet, that we want them to carry themselves like champions, because when they believe that, it shows in their body language and it shows in performances like today."
Cal crushed the program record on the uneven bars and tied an NCAA record with a staggering score of 49.825. The mark tied UCLA's 2004 mark of 49.825 as the best recorded on the uneven bars in NCAA history and it's the best score in the country this year by .225 points. The previous school record was 49.575, which Cal recorded against Stanford in 2020.
Emi Watterson had the second ever 10.0 in school history on the uneven bars. The only other Bear to record a 10.0 on the bars was Cindy Tom in 1992. Watterson had the only previous 9.975 score in school history, but both Andi Li and Maya Bordas notched 9.975 scores, meaning three of the five 9.975+ bars scores in school history happened at Haas Pavilion on Saturday. All six gymnasts scored a 9.90 and five Bears had at least a 9.925 score. Nina Schank recorded a 9.95, matching her career-high. Alma Kuc, making her season debut, scored a 9.925 in the anchor spot, which meant the Bears dropped a 9.90 leadoff score from Nevaeh DeSouza.
"We've gone back and forth with a different dismount for Emi," Howell said. "Due to injury, she hadn't had a lot of repetition of doing complete routines with a difficult dismount, but now she's gotten to a good place and she can get back to focusing on each individual skill and how well she does them. We went back to a toe-full double tuck dismount because she has ownership over the dismount. She is one of the best bar workers in the country and to see her finally get rewarded with the 10 was really, really special. She has been doing 10.0 quality work in the gym, but no one was able to see it until today."
For most teams, a NCAA-record performance on the bars would be cause for celebration. However, the Bears locked in and recorded a school record on the very next rotation. Cal notched a 49.500 on the balance beam, bettering the school record mark of 49.475 from 2019 and the team's 49.450 from last week's meet at Utah. Bordas, DeSouza and Kyana George all recorded 9.90 marks, which set up a beautiful routine from Watterson. The senior from Australia recorded a 9.95, which is tied for the best beam score in Cal history.
Cal wrapped up the afternoon with a 49.500 score on the floor exercise, the third-best mark in program history. George led the way with a 9.950 routine. However, Grace Quinn set a career high on the floor in the leadoff position with a 9.90 mark. Milan Clausi also notched a 9.90, while Bordas and DeSouza had matching 9.875 scores.
DeSouza finished second in the all-around as she matched a career-high with a 39.600 score, the fifth-best score in program history. Bordas took third with a 39.550, just .025 off her career high. Li participated in the all-around for the first time and scored a 38.475. Watterson won the beam and bars competition while George took the floor competition. George was rested on the bars, but recorded a 9.90 on the vault and beam while scoring a 9.95 on the floor.
"There's only been a handful of teams that have ever won a national championship, that same group has always been in the national conversation," Howell said. "A few years ago when we made nationals for the first time it made people aware that we're a team on the rise. Now I think we're here. We can deliver top national performances each week and that's what we need to do in the postseason. I think this puts us firmly in the conversation for a national championship."
Cal defeated UCLA for the first time since 2016 and for only the sixth time. This is only the third time Cal has defeated the Bruins since 1992.
Cal will be back in action on Wednesday as they head to Washington for a matchup with the Huskies at 1 p.m. PT.
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