June 23, 2010

Throughout the whole year last season, our only goal was to win the NCAA Championship. During preseason in fall, the team was looking in good shape and had a good amount of fresh, new talent. Our hopes were high going into the season. In the very first meet, however, we had our first sign of a domino effect of injuries when one of our best gymnasts - Glen Ishino - injured his back during warm-ups.

During that time, we found many other people unable to compete, and we were forced to put up the minimum of people (four) in order to count an event score. Instead of having a full team line-up involving six people per event, we felt we were at a major disadvantage.

However, when times were looking rough for us, there were many guys on the team who were able to provide the backbone that we needed. As the season went on, more of the Bears were able to get healthy enough to compete, including Glen, and the full effect of the team began to show.

Although I was not able to travel to NCAAs, the team told me about their exhilarating performance the first day of competition. The success in prelims led them into the second day for finals, in which the team finished fifth in the nation. Along with the success of the team finals, there were many individual awards, including Bryan del Castillo's fourth place all-around title and numerous all-America awards given out.

All in all, from the majority of the team being injured in the beginning of the season to the recoveries guys made in order to compete, it was a great season. Many of the Bears showed the perseverance, determination and dedication that were necessary to do well at NCAAs, and they did just that.

I'm looking forward to this summer's training and I feel very confident about our future success for next year.

Go Bears!

March 29, 2010

If it seems like I haven't written in awhile, it's because we have not had a meet since March 13 and then we've been on spring break. Following our last home meet in mid-March versus Penn State, which we won, we have been on break from competition. This lull came at the perfect time, however, for we are preparing for this week's Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships and then it's off to NCAA Championships!

At the very beginning of the season, with almost half the team out of commission due to injuries, we undoubtedly seemed a little sluggish to the public eye. However, as more guys are able to recover, more spots in the line-up are able to be filled, thus, thus creating a sound team with more depth and versatility.

Especially after our last home meet of the season, our soundness is very apparent. For example, Glen Ishino was able to compete all-around against the Nittany Lions, whereas during our first home meet, he did not compete due to an injury he sustained during warm-ups. Also, Bryan del Castillo was able to provide more depth by competing on more events.

With only a few more competitions ahead until the end of the road, I'd say it's pretty good timing for the team to be at, what it seems like, its maximum potential by NCAA Championships. NCAAs will be held at West Point this year with the team qualifier taking place on Thursday, April 15. If we place as one of the top three teams in our six-team meet that Thursday, then we will advance to the team finals on Friday, April 16. After we finish competing as a team, individuals, if they score high enough during the team qualifiers, will get a chance to compete in the individual championships on Saturday, April 17.

With a sense of optimism and excitement thanks to the addition of our no-longer injured teammates, our practices have been substantially more intense and exhilarating. More guys are choosing to work longer in the gym to meet the demand of achieving their optimal level and to take that extra step in winning the NCAA Championship. From experience, I know all this hard work will pay off.

Go Bears!

Feb. 23, 2010

With five meets under our belt and four to go - one of which is a three-day meet for the NCAA Championships - we've hit the half-way point of our 2010 campaign. The further along we get into the season, the more confident I am that we will do extremely well at NCAA Championships.

In the very beginning of the season, it's apparent that we started off a little shaky. As the season progressed, there seemed to be little improvement performance and an unfortunate increase in the number of injuries. Once we realized that the rest of us needed to compensate for the teammates on the injured list, there was a surge of hard work and a drastic increase in motivation to perform better.

After many weeks of hard work and determination shortly after the beginning of the season, it was only a matter of showing a reflection of the preceding hard practices. This reflection of practices was undoubtedly seen this past weekend in Oakland at the Pacific Coast Classic.

Last weekend's PCC was slightly different than our normal competitions due to the injuries.

Usually, there are six guys who compete on each event for the team, and the top-four scores are counted towards in the team score on the event and the running team total. However, this past weekend, there were only four Bears who were able to compete on a couple of events.

That meant that the four guys who competed on those events were the sole basis of our scores and we couldn't rely on the other routines as back-up. This is a very high pressure situation for the guys, but they performed marvelously. I'm very grateful to have great teammates who are able to pull this off, especially to the guys who are able to provide the bulk of the team score.

The performance by Cal last weekend was pretty good overall, especially considering the circumstances. It's important, however, to realize that there is plenty room for improvement. In order to perform to our fullest by the end of the year, we each have to reach our goals. We also can't lose site of the good things that have already started coming thanks to our incredibly positive work ethic.

With about two months left until the NCAA Championships, I'm confident about our chances. I'm also optimistic that we will have more guys healthy enough to fully compete so that we're able to release the full force of our team very soon.

Go Bears!

Feb. 10, 2010

Since I last posted, we had two more dual meets against defending national champion Stanford. Soon after our meets against Stanford, we started having practices that weren't the easiest. The main goal of our practices recently has been to increase the number of routines that everyone does on each event. Depth is going to be extremely important down the line.

For those of you who aren't as well-versed in gymnastics, we can put six guys up on an event and the four best scores count for our final team score on the event. The more people we can have on any event means we have a better chance of scoring higher.

In order for us to get into proper shape, hitting numerous routines is what we need. We need to be hitting those routines especially if we want to be in good contention for the national championships. We still have a couple months until NCAAs, which are held April 15-17, but we have to focus now as well.

After a few of our guys came back from Winter Cup, our next main focus is on the Gold Country Classic, which is held this Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Robert Livermore Center. this year, we're facing off against Stanford, but last year we competed in a different arena - Fort Mason's Herbst Pavilion.

With Swiss national star Dennis Mannhart getting the chance to compete for the first time and Glen Ishino recovering from his injury during warm-ups of the first meet, our chances of doing well look good. Last year, we competed pretty well at this meet, when we beat then-No. 7 Stanford, 354.250-354.000. I'm looking forward to do the same this time around.

As for me, I'm still trying to get back in shape after having had two surgeries during the summer. It's been a lot harder than expected with setbacks from compensation injuries and as well as starting off scrawnier that I was before college. However, I'm still optimistic about working hard and get back into shape so I can compete for this team.

Go Bears! Geri

January 19, 2010

2010 is a new year, especially in the world of Cal gymnastics.

To recap last season, Cal brought in some amazing talent that contributed greatly to the team throughout the whole 2009 season. In our first meet, we beat Stanford by a substantial amount of points, giving us an assuring outlook that we had a pretty good team. Throughout the rest of the season, our training became more intense and our goal to win NCAA championships, which we all shared, started to narrow in. With numerous amounts of meet victories and with most of the team healthy enough to compete, we all knew by the time NCAAs came around, we were going to have a good competition. And we did.

Although our final team standing came out to fourth place, we had the best meet of that year at the finals of NCAAs. We were hitting multiple routines in a row, one after the other. One event that I can distinctly remember was on pommel horse, an event that has cursed us in recent years. The line-up included myself, Nic Blair, Bryan Del Castillo, Kyle Bunthuwong, Glen Ishino, and Kyson Bunthuwong. I remember everyone hitting their routine as best as they could, especially Kyson. His anchored routine was the most aggressive and flawless routine I've ever seen him do at a competition, topping off our respectable list of scores with one of the highest in the whole competition.

Furthermore, we also had a good meet on an individual basis. Numerous All-American awards were given out to a few guys, including Glen Ishino, Kyle Bunthuwong, Jimmy Kerry, and Bryan Del Castillo. The most impressive All-American recipient, however, was Kyle Brady, who received second place on parallel bars. Oh, and did I mention he did all this while being a first year law student at Boalt Law School? I can't think of anything more mentally and physically demanding than what Brady had done. Mad props. Finally, Evan Roth wrapped up our list of awards with a national title on rings. That NCAA finals meet was the most exciting event I've ever competed in and it is definitely one competition that I will never forget.

In this new year, however, after losing seniors Evan and Kyson and Boalt student Kyle Brady, our first meet seemed to be antagonistic from our last meet in 2009, losing to Stanford by more than 10 points. However, due to injuries, including Glen who injured himself during warm-up, and Swiss superstar Dennis Mannhart not being eligible to compete, we didn't have our full line-up.

So, last weekend's competition isn't merely a reflection of our team's potential. Until everyone becomes healthy enough so that we are all able to compete, we won't be able to full judge our team's ability to compete. In fact, Stanford lost by a substantial amount the first meet last year [against us] and was able to pull through with a team national championship. After last weekend's meet, I feel we're on a similar route. I think once everyone's able to compete, we'll be unstoppable. I smell a championship title coming our way.

Go Bears! Geri