ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The No. 9 California Golden Bears placed fifth at the NCAA Qualifiers on Thursday at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. on the campus of the University of Michigan with a score of 425.700. They finished behind top-ranked Oklahoma (440.000), No. 4 Stanford (433.550), No. 5 Illinois (432.850), No. 8 Iowa (425.950) and ahead of No. 12 William & Mary (415.350). The Bears were led by senior co-captain Donothan Bailey (86.250) and sophomore Kyle Zemeir (85.550), who both qualified for the all-around competition at the NCAA Championships Friday night. The second session will be taking place later in the day to determine the final field of six teams for the NCAA Championships final session.
“The guys did a good job today,” associate head coach Brett McClure said from Ann Arbor on Thursday afternoon. “It wasn’t perfect, but they definitely showed a lot of improvement from last season.”
The Bears opened session one of the NCAA Championships on pommel horse, scoring a team score of 69.950, which placed them fifth. Sophomore Kevin Wolting started Cal off well with a routine that earned a 14.300, while fellow sophomore Takahiro Kawada led the team with a score of 14.550. Bailey also posted a solid routine, garnering a score of 14.350 from the judges.
Cal tried to bounce back from a slower start than anticipated on the still rings, and tallied a total of 70.750 points on the event. Bailey led the way for the Golden Bears with a score of 14.750 after a stellar routine.
Though they remained in fifth place, the Bears made a push to get back into the race for the third and final qualifying spot with a very solid rotation on vault. Cal scored a total of 72.800 points, and were carried by consistency. No one in the lineup scored lower than a 14.300, and the back end of Bailey, sophomore Ryan Patterson and redshirt senior Jeffrey Langenstein all had hit routines with scores of 14.550, 14.700 and 14.800, respectively.
Zemeir was the class of the parallel bars routine for the Bears, posting a score of 15.000 to lead the team to a total of 70.850 on the apparatus. Bailey was also key, anchoring the rotation with a 14.750 of his own.
Heading into the fifth rotation, Cal was trying desperately to make up some points on the high bar, though some uncharacteristic struggles landed them with a total score of 68.500. Zemeir started things off well with a 14.650, but two sub-13 scores cost California in their team total.
The Bears finished their session on a high note, however, as they turned in their highest scoring performance of the day, earning a total of 72.850 on floor exercise. Bailey posted a 15.200, while Langenstein closed out the afternoon with a 15.050 to conclude their collegiate team competition careers. Cal nearly passed Iowa for fourth place, falling just .250 points behind the Hawkeyes.
Though the Bears did not qualify for the team finals, many Bears are still in the mix for a spot in the individual event finals on Saturday. Once the second session between No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 6 Penn State, No. 7 Minnesota, No. 10 Air Force and No. 11 Nebraska finishes, the top ten individuals from each event will qualify.