BERKELEY -- The Cal women’s gymnastics team opens its 2014 season in a high-powered test against four formidable opponents at the NorCal Meet at 2 p.m. Sunday in Sacramento. The preseason-ranked No. 22 Golden Bears, ranked in the preseason top 25 for the first time since 2005, meet No. 9 Stanford, UC Davis, San Jose State and Sacramento State at the Hornet’s Nest. Last season, the Bears opened the 2013 season with a strong quad meet victory over Kentucky, Arizona and Auburn at home in Berkeley. Cal is 34-49 in home openers.
Follow the action online with live stats available on HornetSports.com and meet updates, including rotation-by-rotation scores, on the @CalWGym Twitter.
Cal seeks to build on its 2013 success under the direction of second-year head coach Justin Howell, last year’s Pac-12 and NACGC West Region Coach of the Year. The Bears earned their first regional berth as a team for the first time since 2007, aided by all-arounders Mariesah Pierce and Alicia Asturias and specialist Madisyn O’ Brien, as well as Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Serena Leong. Both Asturias and Leong return for 2014, plus a new crop of eight talented freshmen who will provide immediate boosts throughout the lineup.
Cal opens the season ranked No. 22. It is the program’s first preseason top 25 ranking since 2005.
The Bears are 34-49 in home openers.
This is Cal’s first appearance at the third annual NorCal Meet.
Stanford is the first of eight preseason-ranked teams the Bears will face in 2014.
The Bears are 106-110 in the regular season against their NorCal Meet opponents. Cal has the edge over Sacramento State (19-13), San Jose State (28-20) and UC Davis (41-7), while Stanford leads 70-18.
NEXT UP The Bears will remain on the road for the second week of the season as they head to Denver for a dual meet against the Pioneers on Saturday, Jan. 11 at 6 p.m. The Blue and Gold returns to Berkeley to host perennial Pac-12 power Utah in the home opener on Friday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m.
POWER IN THE PAC-12 The Bears are scheduled to face eight teams ranked in GymInfo’s preaseason top 25 during the 2014 regular season, including three top 10 opponents in UCLA (No. 4), Utah (6) and Stanford (9). Three other Pac-12 schools made the cut – Oregon State (12), Washington (20) and Arizona State (25). Cal’s non-conference matchups include jaunts against No. 18 Denver and No. 21 Kentucky.
BEARS PICKED TO FINISH SEVENTH Pac-12 coaches projected the Golden Bears to finish seventh in the conference in this year’s preseason coaches poll. Cal finished seventh last year ahead of Arizona State and has never finished higher than fifth (2008, 2000).
PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIPS RETURN TO BERKELEY The Pac-12 Gymnastics Championships will return to Berkeley for the first time since 2005 as the Bears are set to host all eight Pac-12 schools on Saturday, March 22 in Haas Pavilion.
THREE MEETS TELEVISED IN 2014 Three meets featuring the Cal women’s gymnastics team will air on the Pac-12 Networks this season. Those meets are: • Friday, Jan. 31 vs. UCLA (Pac-12 Bay Area & LA) • Monday, March 3 at Stanford • Saturday, March 22 Pac-12 Championships
GET YOUR GOLDEN TICKET All regular-season Cal women’s gymnastics home meets will be ticketed this season. Tickets for all home meets will be available for purchase at the ticket office on Spieker Plaza the day of the meet, beginning approximately one hour before the start of each meet and through the end of the second rotation. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for youth (12th grade and under) and seniors (age 65 and above). Membership for the popular Cub Club season-pass program, which allows youth special perks such as an exclusive seating area and a member t-shirt, is also available for purchase for $30 for the season.
EIGHT NEWCOMERS ADD DEPTH Newcomers comprise exactly half of Cal’s 16-Bear roster this season as head coach Justin Howell added eight freshmen who are expected to make an immediate impact in the lineup. Cal’’s eight new faces include: international elite gymnast Jessica Howe, 2013 state vault champion and regional beam, floor and all-around champion Charlie Owens, Amber Takara, 2011 Junior Olympic National Team member Isabelle Castillo, 2013 Region 3 beam champion Dana Ho, Zoe Draghi, 2013 Region 1 all-around and beam champion Desiree Palomares and WOGA standout Emily Richardson.
TWO FOR 2015 The Bears will get another major boost of talent next year, as Toni-Ann Williams and Alicia Gallarzo commited to Cal in the early signing period to join Cal starting in 2014-15.
An international elite gymnast, Williams (Randallstown, Md./United Gymnastix) is a two-time World Championships competitor and Jamaica National Team member, while Gallarzo (Burbank, Calif./Wallers’ GymJam) was California’s 2012 Level 10 uneven bars champion and finished ninth on beam at the 2013 Junior Olympic Nationals.
ALL-ACCESS PASS Join Cal Women’s Gymnastics in the social media realm for behind-the-scenes access to the Bears. Follow Cal on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for meet scores, practice updates, exclusive photos, videos and more. Find Cal at: • Twitter: @CalWGym • Facebook: Facebook.com/CalWomensGymnastics • Instagram: @CalWGym