Bears Sweep SoCal United In Season Opener
BERKELEY – Cal men's gymnastics kicked off their 2022 campaign with a 382.100-310.900 victory over SoCal United in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, concluding the Cal Benefit Cup program fundraiser and providing the Bears with a solid starting point on the season.
"The theme for this meet was 'gratitude'," said head coach J.T. Okada. "I think the best way that we can express gratitude to our supporters is to put on a show and get the crowd involved – we did plenty of that today."
The Bears posted eight new personal records on the night, led by sophomore Aidan Li's performance of 13.700 on pommel horse that triggered roars of approval from the team and spectators alike.
"The way that he competed was tremendous," said Okada. "It's a great way to start the year, because he's capable of scoring even higher in future meets."
Reigning College Gymnastics Association (CGA) Rookie of the Year Noah Newfeld was Cal's sole competitor in the all-around competition, scoring a personal-best 13.750 on vault on his way to a contest-leading total of 75.700.
Continuing the trend of recent years, the Bears posted their top team score of the night (70.250) in the vault competition. Senior and team captain Caleb Rickard paced all entries with a score of 14.500, while sophomores David Rauchwerger (14.050) and Jelani Sweet (13.950) reached new personal records to finish second and third in the contest, respectively.
Freshmen Sean Shimizu and Tyler Shimizu both made their collegiate debuts on Saturday evening, with the former reaching a score of 12.900 on the parallel bars and the latter with a 12.000 on the still rings.
"I was really proud of them," Okada said. "Coming in and competing in your first meet is really difficult, and I thought they did really well.
"Overall, I think we can improve on a lot of things," he continued, "but it was awesome to get back out and compete."
Senior and team captain Yu-Chen Lee led all competitors in the floor exercise (13.850) and on the parallel bars (13.500). Fellow senior Kyle Abe led the team with a rings score of 12.400, while sophomore Collin Cunane posted a personal- (and competition-) best 13.250 on the high bar.
Cal has two weeks to fine-tune their routines before heading south to compete in the Stanford Open on Saturday, Jan. 29.