Cal Records Best Ever Pac-12 Score
WEST VALLEY CITY, UTAH - The No. 10 California women's gymnastics team recorded its best-ever Pac-12 Championship score with a 197.425, but took second place on Saturday evening at the Maverik Center.
"I was incredibly proud of our team's performance tonight," co-head coach Justin Howell said. "This is a tough place to compete; there's a lot of Utah fans, a ton of energy, four events going on at the same time. There's a lot of pressure out there and I thought they handled it beautifully. We had some opportunities tonight to test our depth and have a couple people compete that haven't competed a lot for us, they stepped into those roles and did a fantastic job."
Cal opened the Pac-12 Championship on the uneven bars and started strong as they recorded a 49.425 on the first rotation. Maddie Williams and Andi Li both recorded 9.925 scores, which tied for the second-best mark by anybody at the Championship. For the freshman Williams, she equaled a career high in the most raucous environment of her young career. Gabby Perea notched a 9.875 score while Nevaeh DeSouza and Mya Lauzon both collected 9.85 scores. The Bears were in good position after the first rotation, trailing Oregon State by just .025.
"This performance speaks volume about our depth," Howell said. "We see it in the gym every day, we see those performances. They really have put those type of performances together. It's not a surprise in what we know that they are capable of. It will give us confidence going into the postseason, this meet is as challenging as any meet we have in the postseason. I thought this was a great rotation order for us starting on bars, which has been our strongest event over the past couple of years. We left that event feeling very confident and took that with us to beam. We're a great team on four events and I think we showed that tonight."
After two rotations, the top three teams were in a virtual tie as Utah led with a 98.825 score while Cal and Oregon State both notched 98.800 scores. Cal collected a 49.375 on beam as both Milan Clausi and Lauzon scored 9.90 and tied for sixth place. Clausi, competing in her hometown, was in the second spot in the lineup and helped the Bears to their 13th-best beam rotation in school history. Lauzon anchored the lineup with an identical score. Andi Li recorded a 9.875 while DeSouza and Williams both scored 9.85.
"I can't say enough about our freshmen, Mya and Maddie; competing in this environment watching them on beam," Howell said. "It didn't shake them, they were completely unfazed. Mya Lauzon anchored us again on beam, and that was a rockstar performance."
Grace Quinn earned a third-place medal on floor as the specialist notched a 9.925 on her lone event of the evening. She has now notched a 9.925 or higher in six consecutive meets. Andi Li finished in sixth place of the night session as she collected a 9.90. Maya Bordas notched a 9.875 while both DeSouza and Clausi collected 9.85 scores, meaning Cal didn't count a score below 9.85 on either of the first two rotations. The Bears totaled 49.400 on floor, the 14th-best floor rotation in school history.
The Bears finished the meet on vault and notched a 49.225 score. DeSouza finished in a tie for fourth place as she notched a 9.875 score. Clausi and Bordas both scored 9.85 to take seventh place. Williams scored a 9.825. Natalie Sadighi also scored a 9.825 as she notched a season high mark. DeSouza took fifth place in the all-around as she notched a 39.425.
"I was really proud of Natalie Sadighi stepping in and leading us off on vault," Howell said. "I was proud of Abi (Solari) anchoring us and continuing to improve on that event. We were without three people who are in our normal vault lineup. It was an opportunity for us to test our depth and I thought they vaulted lights out."
Utah won the Pac-12 Championship with a 198.00, but Cal defeated No. 13 Oregon State (197.250) and No. 14 Arizona State (196.675) in the night session. The Bears also outscored No. 18 UCLA, Washington, Arizona and Stanford who all competed in the morning session.
The Bears previous high at the Pac-12 Championship occurred last season as Cal scored 197.375. Cal took second place last year as well, with both marks tied for the best result at the Pac-12 Championship in school history.
The Bears will find out their regional fate on Tuesday, March 22 at the NCAA Selection Show. The selection show will take place at 9 a.m. PT and Cal will be sent to one of the regionals hosted by Auburn, Oklahoma, Washington and NC State. The NCAA Regionals will take place on March 30 and April 2.
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