Cal Sets School Record On Beam
NORMAN, OKLAHOMA – The ninth-ranked California women's gymnastics recorded a school record on beam, but saw their season come to an end on Saturday at the NCAA Regional Final as they took third place in a quad meet at Lloyd Noble Center on Oklahoma's campus.
With the top two teams advancing to the NCAA Championship, Cal recorded a 197.300, while No. 1 Oklahoma finished in first with a 198.250. Cal was neck-and-neck with No. 8 Minnesota throughout the meet, but Minnesota pulled ahead in the final rotation and finished with a 197.725. Arkansas took fourth with a score of 196.675.
The Bears opened the regional on bars and saw some of the youngest members of their team perform. Freshman Maddie Williams recorded a 9.85, the 12th time this season she has scored 9.85 or higher. Cal also received 9.85 performances from a pair of sophomores in Gabby Perea and Andi Li. Nina Schank scored a 9.80 and Nevaeh DeSouza posted a 9.775 to round out the lineup. Cal scored a 49.125 and sat in fourth place after the first rotation.
"I think they totally came together at the end of the bar rotation," Crandall-Howell said. "We talked about anything can happen in this meet. You can't change what's already happened but you can stay committed to every routine from now until the end of the meet, and that's what they did."
The Bears moved to beam on the second rotation and immediately made a jump up the standings as they set a school record on the event. Cal scored 49.525 on beam to shrink their deficit to the second-place team to .175 after trailing by .425 after the first rotation. The Bears built a fantastic rotation as the first three of DeSouza (9.85), Milan Clausi (9.875) and Williams (9.85) all scored 9.85 or above. After that, Cal stepped it up as Maya Bordas posted a 9.90 and tied for sixth place. The Bears ended the rotation with back-to-back 9.95 scores from Li and Mya Lauzon as the duo tied for second place. Cal's score of 49.525 surpassed the previous school record of 49.500, which was set at last year's meet vs. UCLA.
"They were on fire on beam," said Crandall-Howell. "We've been waiting on the beam record for a while and I was just so proud, but that doesn't even feel like enough to describe how I feel. That's what sports are about, when there are ups and downs they choose to step up and rise and even though the first event didn't go the way they wanted they were going to rise through the rest of the night."
The Bears recorded a 49.525 on floor for the second time this weekend as they tied for the fourth-best floor rotation in school history as five bears posted a 9.90 or better. The run of high scores started in the second spot as Perea was subbed into the lineup and notched a 9.90. Clausi and Lauzon followed with 9.90 scores. Andi Li hit a 9.925 from the fifth spot in the lineup as she tied for fifth place. Grace Quinn followed with a 9.90, the ninth time she's hit a 9.90 or above on floor this year in 11 competitions. Perea, Clausi, Lauzon and Quinn all tied for eighth place with their 9.90 score. The Bears pulled into second place with the standout rotation on floor as they passed the Gophers and led 148.175-148.075 heading into the final rotation with a spot at the NCAA Championship on the line.
"We could not have asked for more from our freshmen and sophomores in this meet today," Crandall-Howell. "They don't have a ton of experience competing in regionals, it didn't faze them, they dialed in even more and they used the energy in the building for fuel for their fight. Which is cool to see from people who are so young. Gabby didn't have a lot of opportunities to compete last year, in a lot of ways she's still having firsts. She started us off great on bars, her energy and her poise was infectious throughout our whole team. We made some adjustments to the skills in her floor routine and she was fully committed. She didn't have much time to prepare and she stepped up."
The Bears moved to vault on their final rotation and posted a team score of 49.125. Mya Lauzon and Maya Bordas led the way with 9.85 marks. Williams returned to the lineup after sitting out the Regional Semifinal and recorded a 9.825. Clausi, DeSouza and Li all posted 9.80 marks for the Bears. The Bears were the first team in the final rotation to finish and watched as Minnesota recorded a 49.650 to pass the Bears and claim the second qualifying spot behind Oklahoma.
"I think we've had several moments of adversity thrown at us this season," Crandall-Howell said. "I was really impressed that all of them could continue to push forward. We've had people out with illness or injury, and they were invested in getting back to their 100% and contributing to the team. We as a group thrive under the hardest of circumstances. The victories we've accomplished this year can't be reflected in the scores."
Li took third place in the all-around as she finished with a 39.525, the fifth time this season that the sophomore has recorded exactly that score. Maya Bordas finished in fourth with a 39.250.
"Our progress has been built upon the work of so many, but every single one of our seniors has contributed a large part of their hearts and souls to this program," Crandall-Howell said. "They have raised the expectation and everyone else has come along. They have built an even stronger legacy for themselves here than they can even understand at this point. They may absorb that some now, but it'll be even more in five years when people are remembering what they did in these moments. If anything, they are going to grow even more vivid because we don't get to see them everyday. Maya Bordas will always be our first national champion. All of them have had multiple records, every single year those records and awards kept piling up. Every time they set a standard for themselves they passed it. That's what we want for them even after they leave the gym, that they set high standards for themselves and exceed them."
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