Feb. 18, 2013
BERKELEY - After a tough week away, the University of California women's gymnastics team (8-4, 1-4 Pac-12) greeted Haas Pavilion with a warm welcome that involved trouncing two opponents while setting a season-high team score plus a handful of personal bests along the way. The Golden Bears tallied 195.925 against Brown (189.350) and San Jose State (195.00) at a home triangular meet on Monday.
"Our team motto is `Get one day better,' and I always go back to us getting one day better. If we go into the gym or a meet and even make things just one-tenth of a point better, that's what matters," Golden Bear head coach Justin Howell said. "There were so many places in this meet where we did just that."
Howell credited the home atmosphere as part of the reason Cal saw improvement in nearly every area of its performances, starting with the team's season-best vault score of 49.20. Two upperclassmen paved the way for the Bears' successful rotation, - senior Madisyn O'Brien, who set a new season-best on the vault with 9.825, and junior Alicia Asturias, who registered a career-best 9.95. Asturias claimed the individual title on vault, and O'Brien shared third place with freshman teammate Kristina Heymann.
The stellar performances continued in rotation two as the Golden Bears took on the uneven bars and swept the event's titles. O'Brien's 9.875 routine earned her first place, while junior Dallas Crawford set her own season-best with a 9.85 to share her second place title with Asturias. In just her second bars performance since she recovered from an injury, senior Mariesah Pierce matched her career-best 9.8 on the bars. California tallied a 48.800 for its total-team effort.
On the balance beam, the team welcomed Pierce back to fill the regular beam lineup, and she made an immediate impact, posting a 9.850 to claim the title. O'Brien continued her winning streak with a second-place spot for her 9.825 balance beam performance. The team finished with 48.825 for the event.
The No. 2 spot in the floor exercise title belonged to three Golden Bears after they each recorded 9.85 performances - Asturias, Pierce and freshman Serena Leong. Together the three counted for more than half of the team's 49.100 on floor, which was also aided by Heymann's 9.825 in the event. That is the third time this season Heymann has matched her career-best in floor.
The team's success was made even sweeter with a new 39.375 career-best all-around performance from Asturias.
"Our team is getting to a point that they truly believe that they're good and it's no longer about winning or losing," Howell said. "It's about changing the culture of this program and building confidence in each other and the team."
The Bears will take advantage of the upcoming bye week to rest and prepare for what promises to be an exciting showdown between Cal and tenth-ranked Stanford at Stanford on Friday, March 1. Meet time begins at 5:30 p.m.