Bears Post Historic Scores In Big Win
BERKELEY – For any men's gymnastics team, a total score of 400.000 looms as the gold standard that only the best can aspire to reach.
On Sunday, Cal men's gymnastics grasped that score and stomped it under its collective heel, finishing with 401.150 points to Air Force's 376.900 in Sunday's triumph at Haas Pavilion.
"We've been working on creating a certain environment for our team," said head coach J.T. Okada, "One that's not based on results and scores, but based on the improvements and the atmosphere that we create during a meet, the energy that we bring and the guys challenging themselves and each other.
"That's what I feel like the major difference was today," he continued. "It's not like we came out of the gate blazing hot, but I could feel the momentum shift as we started progressing through our rotation on the rings. We weren't just surviving routines, we were performing them."
Senior Yu-Chen Lee had his best performance yet in the all-around, compiling a score of 80.600 after scoring personal bests on the pommel, rings and horizontal bar.
"Every year we have seniors with a lot of experience, but making that experience meaningful to the team is what's special," said Okada. "I think that's something that Yu-Chen does well – he continually pushes behind the scenes even when the spotlight isn't on him. It means a lot just to have steady, consistent, reliable hard workers like him."
The Bears' team total of 66.250 on the pommel horse, helped by PRs from Aidan Li (14.000), Caleb Rickard (13.400) and Lee (12.300), currently stands as the second-highest in modern program history. They mirrored this feat on the parallel bars, rising to second in modern Cal history with 68.750 points after personal bests from Noah Newfeld (14.350) and Rickard (13.600).
Despite those impressive achievements, Cal stood out most on the still rings, up until then their most challenging event. All five gymnasts – Landon Wu, Chris Scales, Kyle Abe, Newfeld and Lee – hit their routines and stuck their landings, with four of the five additionally posting new personal records to help the team to a season-best 66.300.
"As a team, we're capable of even more," remarked a pleased Okada. "When we do this, we can hang with the best."
The Bears will cheer on Noah Newfeld as he challenges the Winter Cup on Feb. 25-27, then return to action as a team with a tri-meet against Stanford and Air Force on Mar. 5 at Stanford's Burnham Pavilion.