SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The No. 24 California women’s gymnastics team left Sacramento with full hearts after sweeping past Sacramento State and San Jose State with a 196.725 victory to record the team’s highest road score in program history Friday. Cal improves to 5-5 after surpassing SJSU’s 195.725 and Sac State’s 194.900.
“RQS scores and averages aside, considering that we didn't have a perfect meet tonight, I think tonight’s score continues to tell the story of what we're capable of,” said Cal head coach Justin Howell. “I was really happy to see that we're growing as a team and our confidence is really starting to build. I'm very excited about where we are right now.
Cal’s 196.725 is second only to a pair of 196.800 scores the team posted in 2003 and 2004. The team broke records on nearly every apparatus as the Golden Bears set or matched 14 career-bests and produced season-best team scores on three of the four events. Golden Bear gymnasts swept every single event title.
Cal started on floor, where the Bears matched a program-best 49.300 on floor, good to tie for fourth-highest in the record books. Sophomore Serena Leong claimed the title with a 9.925, matching the second-highest individual event score in program history. Freshman Jessica Howe set a new career-high with a 9.85, and junior Crystal Paz matched her career-high with the same score. Senior Alicia Asturias also scored a 9.85 to match her season-high total.
“Starting on floor was a great way for us to start off the meet on a lot of energy,” Howell said. “It was nice to shake it up and really good practice for what could happen at Pac-12s or Regionals since that’s up to a random draw.”
The team tallied a 49.300 on vault, setting the third-highest vault team total in program history. Leong claimed the vault title with a career-high 9.925 and matched the second-highest vault score in Cal history Howe and senior Dallas Crawford shared second with career-high 9.875s, and freshman Charlie Owens also set a career-high 9.85
A quartet of Bears set career-highs on bars to lead the team to its fourth-highest team bars score in program history, a 49.275. Freshman Emily Richardson (9.80), Howe (9.85), Owens (9.85) and Asturias (9.925) all set new personal bests. Asturias was the event champion with her 9.925, which matches the third-highest individual bars score in program history. Howe, Owens and senior Leilani Alferos all shared second place.
The Bears finished on beam, where freshman Desiree Palomares and Paz shared the balance beam crown with a pair of 9.825s. It was a career-high for Palomares and a season-high for Paz as the Bears tallied a 48.850 on the event.
Howe won the eight-person all-around event with a career-high 39.325, and Owens all set a new high on all-around with a 39.250 to finish fourth. Asturias finished third with a 39.275.
“We went into this meet talking about our performances and wanted to up the ante of our performance value. With the unfortunate events that happened in the last week, we talked about giving it all you've got and making every minute count, and that’s what we did,” Howell said.
The Bears return home to host Washington and Sacramento State on Saturday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. The triangular will be Cal’s “Pretty in Pink” meet in honor of breast cancer awareness and promotions include pink ribbon, pink nail painting and poster-making stations.
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