BERKELEY, Calif. – From setting record-breaking scores in the gym to bonding over morning workouts, California women’s gymnastics celebrated it all at the team’s annual end-of-the year banquet Sunday.
Senior Alicia Asturias was voted “Gymnast of the Year” by her teammates after finishing her career as one of the most decorated Golden Bears in program history. In 2014, she added second team NCAA All-American and Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year distinctions to a growing list of honors that also includes multiple All-Pac-12 and Pac-12 All-Academic awards.
Freshman Zoe Draghi was awarded “Most Improved” after struggling at the beginning of the season and blossoming under the tutelage of her coaches and encouragement from her teammates. Draghi saw action in four meets this season, including the NCAA Minneapolis Regional, and set a career-high 9.775 on the floor exercise against Stanford.
“Most Inspirational” went to junior Maddie Kratzke, who suffered a season-ending injury in the middle of the season but continued to lead her team from the sidelines. The captain has suffered multiple knee injuries throughout her career but has fought back to pursue gymnastics. She inspired the team throughout the season to follow the mantra “compete for those who can’t.”
The Cal coaching staff introduced another award this year – the “One Day Better” award. The honor is based on the team’s philosophy of striving to make small improvements each and every day, and is awarded to the gymnast who seeks to improve herself in every area possible. Senior Leilani Alferos received the inaugural award for her tenacity after transferring from Oregon State and being forced to sit out a year, then tearing her ACL in what should have been her first year competing as a Cal gymnast. In the two years Alferos sat out, she became heavily involved with the Golden Bear Advisory Committee (GBAC) and other community service activities, as well as secured a job post-graduation with Deloitte. She finally earned her chance to compete this season, anchoring the uneven bars lineup and posting a career-high 9.925 on the event.
Much of the evening was also dedicated to celebrating the many accomplishments of the 2014 squad as a whole. Among the accomplishments:
- Cal finished the season ranked No. 16 – up 33 spots from 2012 and 12 spots from 2013. It is tied for the largest jump in rankings over a three-year period (Maryland also jumped 33 from 1997-99)
- Cal posted a 196.0 or better SIX times, more than any other squad in program history.
- The team advanced to NCAA Regionals for the second consecutive season and 19th time in program history
- It was the first time Cal claimed two individual berths to the NCAA Championships in program history, and the first time Cal sent gymnasts to the NCAA Championships since 1994.
- The Bears finished third at the Pac-12 Championships, which was the program’s highest finish ever, and the team also posted its highest Pac-12 Championships score (196.550)
- The Bears claimed 34 event titles this season and 82 Top 3 finishes, which is up from 15 event titles and 60 Top 3 finishes in 2013.
- The team opened the season with the highest score in a home opener in season history (196.27)
- Asturias was voted Pac-12 Gymnast of the Week for the first time for the Cal program since My-Lan Dodd in 2003.
- A Cal gymnast claimed Pac-12 Freshman of the Week 4 of 11 possible weeks (Charlie Owens and Jessica Howe, twice each) – the most Freshman of the Week honors for any program in the conference
- Asturias was named the program’s first-ever Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year and an AAI Award finalist.
- Asturias claimed second team NCAA All-American honors and is the fourth Cal gymnast named an All-American. It is the first All-America distinction for the program since 1992.
- Senior Dallas Crawford won the NCAA Regional uneven bars title and was the first Cal bars champion since Cindy Tom in 1990.
- Cal swept the NACGC West honors – Coach of the Year (Justin Howell), Gymnast of the Year (Asturias) and Administrator of the Year (Ryan Cobb)
- Four gymnasts were named to Pac-12 All-Academic teams: Asturias (first team), Serena Leong (first team), Alferos (Honorable Mention) and Crawford (Honorable Mention)
- Asturias (first team) and Owens (second team) are All-Pac-12 selections
- Team Event Highs in 2014:
- V: 49.325 (second-highest score in program history)
- UB: 49.275 (fourth-highest score in program history)
- BB: 49.275 (second-highest score in program history)
- FX: 49.300 (fourth-highest score in program history)
- TOTAL: 196.725 (second highest score in program history)