Jan. 9, 2013
BERKELEY - The road to University Park, Pa. and the national title begins Friday for the No. 6 California men's gymnastics team. The Golden Bears open their 2013 campaign against rival No. 5 Stanford with the first event scheduled for 2:00 p.m. at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley. The event is free for all to attend.
Bears Begin 2012 Ranked Sixth
In the preseason poll, Cal earned a No. 6 national ranking. The Bears finished fourth at the 2012 NCAA Championships for the second year in a row and No. 8 in the final 2012 rankings. Illinois topped the preseason rankings with Michigan and Oklahoma filling out the medal stand at second and third, respectively. Just ahead of Cal and Stanford is Penn State in fourth. California earns their high ranking despite losing many key contributors to graduation last season.
"I feel good about this season," said head coach Tim McNeill. "So far, it's been a really fun year. The entire team is so different with 13 freshman, one sophomore and 6 upperclassmen. It's a very young group, but it's also a very talented group. Still, since they're so young, I don't know exactly what I have this year. A lot is up in the air right now. I think we have the ability to be one of the top teams and place top three at the NCAA Championships. It's going to take the freshmen maturing. I think they're up to the challenge and if everyone does their job we'll be a tough team to beat."
Cal is welcoming 13 newcomers to the squad this year, and many will contribute right away. One in particular to watch will be Kevin Wolting. He will be an all around competitor for the Golden Bears. His best events, however, should be floor and high bar.
"He was a huge add to the team," said McNeill. "He was highly sought after by many other programs around the country, and now that he's here, I clearly see why. He's the hardest worker on the team and he knows what to do around the gym."
Senior Steven Lacombe is another gymnast to watch out for in the 2013 season. Coming off strong performances the last few years, he is poised to dominate the rings in 2013.
"He has the opportunity to not only do well in NCAA but also in the US gymnastics program," said McNeill. "I think he will dominate rings this year at the NCAA level and beyond. I don't only expect him to earn All-American on the rings, but also to win it all."
Golden Bear Champions
Former Golden Bear Glen Ishino won the 2012 National Title on pommel horse last year with a score of 15.600. He took his skills to the US Olympic Trials, where he finished ninth all around, and fourth on the pommel horse. Senior Donothan Bailey is the most decorated returning member of the team. He finished the season ranked sixth all-around, tenth on the floor exercise, 12th on the pommel horse, and 16th on the parallel bars. Senior Steven Lacombe finished the season nationally ranked 18th on the rings.
The Bear squad closed its 2012 campaign in fourth place in the NCAA Team Championships. Five Bears - Jonathan Liu (parallel bars) competed in individual event finals. At the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships, Cal finished third with Bailey winning pommel horse with a 14.900 and finishing third in the all-around. Dennis Mannhart was fifth in the all-around. Steven Lacombe earned bronze with a 15.200 on rings. On vault, Jean Monteclaro earned third. Additionally, six Bears made the MPSF All-Academic Team for Cal to tie Stanford for the conference lead.