Men’s Gymnastics Prepares For MPSF Championships
BERKELEY – For California men's gymnastics, Saturday's MPSF Championships at Stanford's Burnham Pavilion represent both one last chance to tune up before the NCAA Championships and the culmination of a long season's worth of hard work and learning.
"We've had a major shift in our mindset from the beginning of the year until now," said sophomore David Rauchwerger. "At first, we were in survival mode – concentrating on staying on the equipment. As the season progressed, we realized that we can contend with these higher-ranked teams."
The Bears, who begin competition at 4:00 p.m. PT on Saturday, have met Stanford five times, Oklahoma twice and Air Force once this season. Of these matchups, the home meet against Air Force stands out most, with Cal scoring 401.150 as a team. They also acquitted themselves well against Oklahoma two weeks ago, compiling a total of 396.000 points.
"There's a lot of pressure for this competition," said Rauchwerger, "but we're in full hunting mode now, ready to attack our routines and stick our landings just like we do in practice."
Overall, the Bears set 37 new personal bests across the course of the season and reached three new top-three marks in modern program history. Sophomore Aidan Li's 14.000 on pommel horse, set on Feb. 20 against Air Force, puts him at No. 3 for the Bears in the modern scoring system, while the team's event scores of 66.250 on the pommel horse and 68.750 on the parallel bars each placed second in the program record book. Reigning College Gymnastics Association (CGA) Rookie of the Year Noah Newfeld qualified for the Winter Cup as a sophomore, competing against the nation's best in the three-day competition (Feb. 25-27) that ended with him placing 17th in a field of dozens.
Now, Rauchwerger and the team feel that they are in a good position to take their experiences and put them all together at the conference meet. "We've been attacking the small details and fine-tuning routines all week," he said. "This team is special. We have a lot of talent, and we won't be holding back this weekend."