Newfeld Qualifies for Winter Cup
STANFORD – A raucous Burnham Pavilion played host to Cal men's gymnastics in Saturday afternoon's Stanford Open, which featured dozens of the nation's top gymnasts in one of the season's premier meets. Although several of the Bears shined in their respective events, it was sophomore Noah Newfeld who brought home the day's top honors – a place in the 2022 Winter Cup, awarded to the all-around's top three NCAA finishers. Newfeld's score of 80.050 put him at third in the event to claim the meet's final qualifying spot.
The Winter Cup is scheduled for Feb. 25-27 in Frisco, Texas; to Newfeld, a native of nearby Plano, Texas, it was especially imperative that he qualify.
"Noah walked up to me one day and said, 'Coach, I'm going to qualify for the Winter Cup,'" said head coach J.T. Okada. "It's rare that an athlete sets a goal for themselves and actually does it – he hit all of his routines tonight and did exactly what he said that he was going to do. I have a lot of respect for someone who's brave enough to state their goal out loud and then achieve it."
The team as a whole finished the night with a season-best team score of 393.000 – an improvement of over 11 points from two weeks ago – while No. 1 Stanford and No. 2 Oklahoma posted respective totals of 410.250 and 405.450.
The Bears kicked things off on the floor exercise, hoping to start off strong. Senior Kyle Abe led the team with his personal-best 14.150, good for third place among NCAA competitors, while classmate Yu-Chen Lee posted a season-best 13.900. Newfeld began his all-around campaign with a personal record of 13.800. In all, Cal combined for a season-best total of 66.750 in the event.
On the pommel horse, the team continued their show of improvement, posting a combined score of 64.150. Junior Will Lavanakul anchored the squad with his season-best performance of 13.400, followed by Newfeld's season-best 13.000 and sophomore Aidan Li's 12.900. Next, Cal took on the still rings, finishing with a season-best total of 62.150 with another score of 13.000 from Newfeld. Competing immediately after Newfeld, Lee posted a mark of 12.900 on the rings, while freshman Landon Wu made his Cal debut with a score of 12.450.
Traditionally Cal's strongest event, the vault competition saw three Bears break the 14.000 mark – senior Caleb Rickard, who finished fourth among NCAA competitors with his season-best score of 14.550; Lee, whose 14.100 was also a season-best, and sophomore David Rauchwerger, who tied his own personal record with a mark of 14.050. Both Newfeld and Lee impressed in the next event, the parallel bars, as they each posted a season-best score of 13.650; freshmen Wu and Sean Shimizu followed with their matching scores of 13.100 to help Cal to a season-best total of 65.950.
Finally, the team took on the horizontal bar and once again finished with solid scores, along with a season-best team total of 65.350. Rickard tied for second place in the entire competition with a score of 13.450, yet another season-best, while Wu competed in his third event of the night and finished with 13.150 for the team's second-best score. Sophomore Collin Cunane followed his strong season debut with another solid mark of 13.050 to round out the Bears' top three.
"We had a week off to prepare, and these guys really put in the work to make improvements from the last meet," said Okada. "All of these personal records and season-bests really show off the effort that the team has put into their training, and the massive jump in the overall team score is a huge indicator of the momentum that we have going forward."
With two meets under their belt, Cal will head to another major event next week – the Pac-12 Invite on Feb. 4, which hosts Cal, Stanford, Washington and Arizona State in Seattle. The first event is slated to begin at 7:00 p.m. PT.