ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The ninth-ranked California Golden Bears were not competing in the NCAA team finals on Friday night at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., but six Cal gymnasts were competing individually. Redshirt senior co-captain Donothan Bailey and sophomore Kyle Zemeir competed in the all-around competition at the NCAA Championships on Friday, finishing sixth and seventh, respectively. Bailey also earned a spot in the NCAA Individual Event Championships for the pommel horse after his stellar 15.050 routine on Friday night. The top eight finishes earned them All-American status, the first two under associate head coach Brett McClure in his Cal coaching career. Additionally, redshirt senior Jeffrey Langenstein, sophomores Ryan Patterson, Takahiro Kawada and Kevin Wolting were also in action, vying for a top ten finish, which would qualify them for the NCAA Individual Event Championships on Saturday. In the team competition, Michigan repeated as national champions, posting a team score of 445.050, and Wolverine Sam Mikulak also repeated as the all-around NCAA champion with a score of 91.100.
“It was a great night for the guys,” McClure said on Friday night from Ann Arbor. “It was an exciting competition with a lot of hit routines! This was one of the most electric NCAA Championships I have been part of.”
Bailey was in the running along with Mikulak and Stanford freshman Akash Modi for the all-around national title until his still rings routine in the fifth rotation, in which he earned a score of 13.150. Aside from that, Bailey was fantastic, scoring a 14.100 or above on his other five events. The Lake Forest, Calif. native opened Friday’s competition with a 14.500 on parallel bars, and followed it up with a hit routine on the high bar, earning a 14.600 and is a second alternate for tomorrow’s championship. Bailey kept the momentum going on floor, posting a 14.850. He also qualified for tomorrow’s pommel horse championship with an incredible hit routine that garnered a 15.050 from the judges, ranking as the sixth best routine of the night. After his still rings routine, Bailey finished his evening on the vault with a 14.100 and a total score of 86.250 in the all-around competition for a sixth place finish.
Zemeir set a new career-high in the all-around competition with a score of 86.100. Like Bailey, he opened up on fire, scoring a 14.550 on vault in his first rotation, and followed that up with a 14.900 on parallel bars. His next two rotations were stellar as well, scoring a 14.250 on high bar, as well as a 15.000 on floor exercise. The Ellicott City, Md. native hit a bit of a snag on the pommel horse with a 13.100, but finished his evening strongly, earning a 14.300 on still rings for his best all-around day as a collegiate gymnast.
Langenstein competed in the floor exercise and vault, and narrowly missed qualifying for tomorrow’s championships on vault, after his 14.950 hit that tied him for 14th. Additionally, he scored a 15.150 on floor, also tying him for 14th place, concluding his collegiate career on a very strong note.
Kawada came closest to qualifying for tomorrow’s championships, and the opportunity of being a back-to-back All-American. Kawada finished tied for tenth on Friday after his routine garnered a 14.950 from the judges, but the tiebreaker did not go in his favor. The sophomore is the second alternate for tomorrow’s competition however, and should there be two scratches, Kawada would have the opportunity to compete.
Patterson, like Langenstein, competed in two events on Friday night at the Crisler Center, high bar and vault. The sophomore posted a solid vault, scoring a 14.600, which tied him for 23rd out of the 42 competitors. Additionally, he had an opportunity to qualify on the high bar, but scored a 13.850, which was below the threshold of 14.650 that it would have taken to qualify.
Wolting placed 25th on pommel horse with an impressive routine that earned him a 14.450, but he was unable to qualify for tomorrow’s championships on the apparatus.