Cal Gymnastics Coaching Staff Extended
BERKELEY – Following a season in which the Golden Bears had their highest national finish ever, the entire Cal women's gymnastics staff – co-head coaches Justin Howell and Elisabeth Crandall-Howell as well as assistant coach Janelle McDonald – has agreed to multi-year contract extensions.
Howell and Crandall-Howell received new five-year contracts, while McDonald received a two-year extension.
"We're thrilled to agree to contract extensions with our entire gymnastics staff to keep them at Cal for the foreseeable future," Cal Director of Athletics Jim Knowlton said. "Their hard work and dedication has turned our program into one of the best in the country. They have worked tirelessly to be 'One Day Better,' and have created a culture that allows Cal student-athletes to excel in both the gym and the classroom. We could not be more excited to have Justin, Liz and Janelle leading our program forward."
The Cal coaching staff made history with the Bears during the 2021 season as Cal finished the year ranked No. 5 in the nation and as the team with the top NQS in the West Region – both first-time achievements for the program. The Bears finished second at the Pac-12 Championship, their highest-ever finish at the meet, with a team-record Pac-12 Championship score of 197.375. Cal also placed seventh at the NCAA Championship after posting the best NCAA Championship score, 197.3625, and recording the best finish in program history. Additionally, Maya Bordas won Cal's first-ever NCAA individual championship when she claimed the title on uneven bars with a 9.95 score.
In 2021, the Bears established program records on uneven bars, balance beam, floor exercise and overall team score. Cal set the team score record with a 198.050 mark in its dual meet vs. UCLA, a total that stood as the fourth best in the country last season. Cal also recorded the second- and third-best scores in program history at the NCAA Regionals. Cal posted a 197+ score in every one of the final 11 meets of the year.
"Cal has always felt like home," Howell said. "It is truly inspiring to be surrounded by people that constantly challenge themselves to be One Day Better. I'd like to thank Jim Knowlton, Chancellor Christ and our sport administrator Josh Hummel for the incredible belief in our women's gymnastics program. Liz, Janelle, and I are excited about the future and the continued opportunity to grow alongside our amazing student athletes."
This continues a multi-year ascent for the women's gymnastics program as the Bears have made three team appearances at the NCAA Championship in the last five years. By contrast, Cal earned only one NCAA Championship appearance before Howell and Crandall-Howell began working with the program during the 2013 season. With Howell and Crandall-Howell at the helm, Cal has accumulated 11 postseason All-Americans, 13 regular season All-Americans, four WCGA Regional Gymnasts of the Year, four Pac-12 Freshman/Newcomers of the Year and 46 Pac-12 All-Academic selections.
"It is an honor to be able to continue to work with the incredible student-athletes at Cal," Crandall-Howell said. "They are continually pushing themselves to grow in all aspects of their lives and are filled with gratitude for each opportunity. They have found a way to thrive despite the multiple challenges presented over the last year. None of the success that was achieved in the 2021 season could have been accomplished without the tireless support from Jim Knowlton and our sport administrator, Josh Hummel. I am so excited to be returning most of the 2021 team, and expect them to provide so much experience and leadership. It's also thrilling to welcome an incredibly talented freshman class. The future is definitely looking bright in Berkeley!"
Each of Cal's all-time top 20 team totals have occurred since 2015, including 10 during the 2021 season. Of the top 10 scores on each apparatus, 50 of the 53 marks (including ties) have occurred during the Howells' tenure (11 of 12 on vault, 11 of 12 on bars, 15 of 15 on beam, and 13 of 14 on floor).
Howell and Crandall-Howell were named Pac-12 Co-Coaches of the Year and WCGA Region 6 Co-Coaches of the year in 2021. McDonald was named WCGA Region 6 Assistant Coach of the Year for the second consecutive year. Howell has now been selected the WCGA Region 6 Coach of the Year six times and has three Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors. In 2016, Howell was named the WCGA National Coach of the Year and Crandall-Howell was named WCGA National Assistant Coach of the Year. Crandall-Howell was elevated to co-head coach prior to the 2019 season.
Cal finished the 2021 season ranked in the top 10 nationally in all four events, including being ranked as the top uneven bars team in the country. The Bears are expected to be amongst the best teams in the country again in 2022 as the team returns all but one routine from the group that created school history in 2021 and will add a decorated freshman class.
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