No. 6 California Competes at NCAA Championships
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  04/04/2005

April 4, 2005

WHAT'S ON TAP: The No. 6 California men's gymnastics team (10-4 overall, 5-2 MPSF) travels to West Point, N.Y., April 7-9 for the 2005 NCAA Men's Gymnastics Championships. The national qualifier, which consists of two pre-qualifying sessions, will be conducted April 7, while the final team competition will take place April 8, followed by the individual event finals on April 9.

A LOOK AT THE COMPETITION: Cal will be joined at the NCAA championships by the nation's top 12 teams, including 2004 national champion No. 5 Penn State and 2005 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation champion No. 3 Oklahoma. Also attending will be No. 1 Ohio State, No. 2 Illinois, No. 4 Michigan, No. 7 Iowa, No. 8 Stanford, No. 9 Minnesota, No. 10 Nebraska, No. 11 Army and No. 12 William and Mary.

2004 NCAA RECAP: Cal posted a season-high 220.875 to finish first in session II of the NCAA preliminaries, advancing to the team final held at the University of Illinois. While the Bears notched their second-highest score of the year (220.325) at the team final, they finished in sixth place. Things improved for Cal in the individual competition, where Graham Ackerman completed one of the most prolific performances by a Cal gymnast ever, taking home NCAA titles on the floor exercise (9.687) and vault (9.687). The Seattle, Wash., native narrowly missed out on a third title, tying for second on the high bar (9.737). Ackerman capped off an incredible outing by earning All-American honors on the parallel bars as well, where his 8.987 was good for sixth. Ackerman became the first Bear to win two national titles in the same year, as well as becoming the fourth Cal gymnast to earn All-American status in four different events in the same night. Freshman Randall Heflin ended his season on a high note, finishing second only to Ackerman on floor, while Jay Yee ended up in 10th on the still rings.

NCAA TRADITION: California has a rich history at the NCAA championships. The Bears have had 165 individual top 10 finishers since 1948, including 22 national champions. Cal has finished in the top 5 at NCAAs 14 times since 1959, including three times this decade. The Bears boast four national championships - 1968, '75, '97 and '98.

LOOKING BACK AT THE MPSF CHAMPIONSHIPS: The Bears took second-place team honors at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championships on March 25, with a score of 219.725, finishing behind No. 2 Oklahoma (225.650). No. 8 Stanford (917.925) claimed third, No. 9 Nebraska (215.275) was fourth and Air Force (197.235) came in fifth. Senior co-captain Graham Ackerman took top honors on the high bar, with a score of 9.75. Freshman Tyler Block finished second on the parallel bars with 9.375, while senior Jay Yee's 9.750 on the still rings was good for third. Cal also captured two titles in the individual portion of the MPSF championships. Ackerman's score of 9.725 was good enough for his second consecutive floor exercise title. Ackerman came close to capturing a third event title for Cal on the high bar, where his score of 9.600 earned him a second-place finish. The 9.150 he posted on the parallel bars was also good for third. Cal received an impressive performance from Block, whose 9.350 on the parallel bars propelled him to first place in the event. Yee had a productive day, coming up just shy of first place in two events. His 9.750 earned him second place on the still rings, while a 9.600 placed him second on the pommel horse. Junior co-captain Shawn Mowry finished third on floor, posting a 9.300.

SENIOR SENSATION: Senior Graham Ackerman has been selected as one of five finalists for the 2005 Nissen-Emery Award. The annual award recognizes the nation's top senior gymnast. In addition to gymnastics excellence, the winner also must be an example of good sportsmanship and fair play, as well as maintaining a high standard of scholarship throughout his college career. The winner will be announced at the NCAA/CGA yearly banquet April 6 in West Point, N.Y. Ackerman, a two-time NCAA champion and six-time All-American, won national titles in 2004 on both the floor exercise and the vault. A silver medalist on the vault at the 2003 U.S. championships, Ackerman will leave Cal as one of the university's top all-time great gymnasts.

2005 BREAKDOWN: Cal's overall average of 219.180 in 2005 is good for a No. 6 ranking in the nation. The Bears are No. 4 in the nation on floor exercise (37.075), No. 5 on parallel bars (36.075), No. 6 on still rings (37.620), No. 8 on pommel horse (38.800) and high bar (36.400) and No. 13 on the vault (36.470).

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS: The Bears have a handful of gymnasts ranked in the Top 20 by event. Graham Ackerman's average of 9.680 on floor exercise positions him as No. 3 in the nation at the event. The senior also figures nationally on the high bar, where he is 9th (9.440), the parallel bars (19th - 9.025) and the vault (T20th - 9.270). Joining him in the rankings is Jay Yee, whose 9.760 on the still rings ties him for second, as well as a No. 8 position on the pommel horse (9.420). Tyler Block has quickly proven his worth to the Bears, coming in at No. 6 on the parallel bars (9.330). Shawn Mowry's 9.220 average on floor exercise is good for 18th in the rankings.

CAREER MILESTONE: Head coach Barry Weiner attained his 200th career victory this year at the Nakamori Invitational. Weiner, having amassed a 207-52-1 record during his 14-year tenure with Cal, is second on the all-time win list to only Hal Frey (25 years, 230 wins).

HEAD COACH Barry Weiner: Largely credited with developing the University of California men's gymnastics program into one of the nation's finest, Barry Weiner (14th year, 207-52-1) led the Golden Bears to national championships in 1997 and 1998, a total of six Top 5 national finishes and seven NCAA individual champions in his 14 seasons at the school. Weiner was named National Coach of the Year in 1997 and 1998, as well as being a four-time MPSF Coach of the Year honoree, most recently in 2004. Weiner, who coached the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team in Sydney, Australia, was a two-time MVP at Temple University from 1968-70. A 1968 NCAA event finalist in the parallel bars and floor exercise, he helped Temple finish fourth in the country in '68 and led the Owls to a third-place national finish in 1970. Weiner also earned gold medals at the 1968 Maccabiah Games in the floor exercise and horizontal bar.

ASSOCIATE HEAD COACH Kip Simons: Kip Simons is in his fifth year as an assistant with the Golden Bears. Simons had a successful collegiate career at Ohio State, where he was honored as the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, team captain his senior season, a Nissen Award Recipient and the 1994 OSU Male Athlete of the Year. Following his collegiate career, Simons went on to compete on two world championship teams and a Pan American Games gold medal team.His crowning achievement came when he represented America while competing in the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, Ga.