DENVER, Colo. – The No. 22 Cal women’s gymnastics team (3-2, 0-1 Pac-12) fell short in its bid to upset No. 18 Denver (1-0, 0-0 MRGC), losing to the Pioneers 195.200-193.225 Saturday evening at Denver.
Cal was plagued by mistakes throughout its events and ultimately faltered from a lack of momentum and tight scoring.
“The gymnastics is there. We did good gymnastics,” said California head coach Justin Howell. “Yes, we had mistakes, but I wasn’t disappointed in the skill level or the execution of our performance. We’ve got to sell it better. We talked about manufacturing energy and momentum when it’s not there, because the energy level there was flat. This is an emotional sport and that stuff can factor in, so sometimes it’s okay to feel that emotion.”
The Bears once again relied on senior Alicia Asturias and freshman Charlie Owens for a large portion of work, as both competed on all four events. Asturias claimed first in the all-around with a 39.125, and Owens topped her opening week debut by .025, finishing with a 38.975 all-around. Asturias also claimed third on vault with a season-high 9.80 performance, and first on bars with a 9.875. Aside from the all-around, Owens improved on two other events, posting a 9.775 on vault and a 9.75 on bars.
“Alicia does her job every single time, and Charlie delivered everywhere. She’s really starting to become a leader on this team, which is great as a freshman. It shows a lot of her competitive spirit and what she’s capable of doing,” Howell said.
Cal’s first rotation was on bars, where the Bears tallied a 48.55 to start the meet. Freshman Jessica Howe made her collegiate debut on the apparatus, posting a 9.525. Despite the final score, Howell was most impressed with junior Maddie Kratzke’s performance, as well as freshman Emily Richardson’s exhibition routine. Richardson, who joined the team in late December, showcased a routine she learned in just two days.
“We completely changed her mount and composition and construction of the routine, and she basically learned it in a workout,” Howell said. “I’m really looking forward to incorporating her into more lineups and getting her into more events. Whether she delivers the big score or not, she comes into competition with confidence and that’s what we need to see.”
On vault, Howell asked the team to produce high-flying vaults. Though the altitude affected some landings, both Asturias and junior Crystal Paz managed to produce season-high totals of 9.80 and 9.70, respectively. The team combined for a 48.775.
“What I asked them to do was fly out of the arena. We wanted the athletes to be able to see what altitude they are capable of, and later we can focus more on controlling it,” Howell said.
The Bears dropped the ball in their third rotation, where the usually solid floor squad tallied an unusually low 48.0 team score after several falls on the mat. Both Asturias and sophomore Serena Leong, part of last season’s regular floor lineup, carried the team with 9.75 scores.
Despite the lost momentum from floor, Howell was impressed with the mental discipline the team showed on beam. Cal finished with a 47.9. Leong again carried the team with another 9.75 after a solid beam set and double tuck dismount despite feeling under the weather.
“We picked ourselves up and got to work on our beam routine. When you come off a rough rotation and the momentum is gone and energy is down, it’s really hard to pick it back up. I was happy that we brought it back on beam and that we attacked beam the way that we should,” Howell said.
Cal hosts its home opener Friday as the perennial Pac-12 gymnastics powerhouse Utah Utes come to Berkeley. Meet time is set for 7 p.m. in Haas Pavilion.
“We’re really excited to compete at home,” Howell said. “The energy that we have from our fans and team when we compete at home is very hard to reproduce at any other place, and we’re really looking forward to getting back to that environment and electric atmosphere this weekend.”
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Top 3 Event Scores
|1||Moriah Martin||University of Denver||9.875|
|2||Kaitlin Moorhead||University of Denver||9.850|
|2||Moriah Martin||University of Denver||9.850|
|3||Nina McGee||University of Denver||9.825|
|1||Nina McGee||University of Denver||9.800|
|2||Leah Lomonte||University of Denver||9.775|
|2||Julie Ross||University of Denver||9.775|
|1||Nina McGee||University of Denver||9.925|
|2||Jorie Hall||University of Denver||9.850|
|3||Ellese Sakai-Hart||University of Denver||9.775|