BERKELEY -- The No. 19 Golden Bears are one of six teams heading to Minneapolis, Minn. this weekend to begin their NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships campaign on the University of Minnesota campus. The Bears join host and No. 14 Minnesota, plus No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 11 Illinois-Champaign, No. 26 Southern Utah and No. 31 San Jose State. Meet time is set for 4 p.m. PT on April 5 in Sports Pavilion.
Live stats can be accessed via GopherSports.com with in-meet Twitter updates on the @CalWGym Twitter.
Cal will begin its competition on floor and continue in Olympic order to vault and then bars before finishing on the balance beam. There will be two bye events for a break in the action, one before floor and one before bars.
Of the 36 teams in NCAA Regional competition, only 12 will advance to the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships, set for April 18-20 at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) in Birmingham, Ala. The top two teams from each of the six regional sites will advance to Birmingham.
The teams at each predetermined regional site were selected based on their regional qualifying scores (RQS). Each site contains three teams from among the nation’s top 18 (based on RQS). The six sites also have one team from each grouping of teams ranked between No. 19-24, 25-30 and 31-36. Seeding determined at the time of regional selections will be maintained throughout the championships. All-around competitors and event specialists are assigned to their respective geographic region.
This is the second consecutive year Cal has been selected to a regional. In 2013, Cal earned its first regional berth as a team since 2007. The Bears have been selected to an NCAA Regional 19 times as a team since the NCAA began sponsoring a women’s gymnastics championship in 1982. Only the 1992 team advanced to the NCAA Championships, finishing eighth of 12 teams with a 190.70.
LAST YEAR AT THE NCAA CORVALLIS REGIONAL Cal’s 2013 season ended at the NCAA Corvallis Regional hosted by Oregon State, where the Golden Bears placed sixth with a score of 195.125. The Blue and Gold finished behind Georgia (197.425), Arkansas (196.950), Arizona State (195.700), Oregon State (195.375) and Boise State (195.350). Alicia Asturias finished with 38.675 in the all-around and was not able to secure an individual spot at the NCAA Championships, while Serena Leong missed a spot in the NCAA vault championship by just .05 points after finishing second at regionals.
NEXT UP The top two teams and top two all-around competitors (who are not on an advancing team) from each of the six regional sites will receive an automatic berth to the national championships, set for April 18-20 at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) in Birmingham, Ala.
BEST-EVER BEARS AT PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIP Cal produced a 196.550 to log the program’s highest-ever finish at the Pac-12 Championships in Haas Pavilion on March 22. The Bears only finished behind champion Utah and Stanford, but upset UCLA and Oregon State to claim third of eight at the event. At the beginning of the season, Pac-12 coaches projected the Golden Bears to finish seventh in the conference in the 2014 preseason coaches poll. Cal finished seventh last year ahead of Arizona State and had never finished higher than fifth (2008, 2000).
DR. INCREDI-BELL Last week, the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) announced that former University of California women’s gymnast Sigall Kassutto, now known as Dr. Sigall Bell, will be enshrined in the Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-America Hall of Fame. Bell, who attended Cal from 1988-92, joins Derrick Brooks (Football/Florida State University), Tiki Barber (Football/Virginia), Dick Nunis (Football/USC) and Terry Carleton (Soccer/Bentley University) as this year’s 2014 inductees.
ASTURIAS, OWENS NAMED TO ALL-PAC-12 TEAMS Senior Alicia Asturias and freshman Charlie Owens are members of this year’s All-Pac-12 gymnastics teams. Asturias was named to the All-Pac-12 All-Around First Team, and Owens was selected as a second team all-arounder.
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FANTASTIC FRESHMEN Freshmen Jessica Howe and Charlie Owens claimed two Pac-12 Freshman of the Week titles this season, making it a combined four of the possible 11 Freshman of the Week honors in 2014 for the most of any gymnastics program in the country. Prior to this season, a Cal freshman had never claimed the Freshman of the Week award since the honor was introduced in 2013.
ASTURIAS NAMED AAI AWARD FINALIST Alicia Asturias was one of 17 finalists for the prestigious AAI Award, sponsored by the American Athletic, Inc. The senior all-arounder was just one of four Pac-12 finalists, joining gymnasts from UCLA, Utah and Stanford.
ASTURIAS BREAKS 10-YEAR DRY SPELL Alicia Asturias nabbed the Pac-12 Gymnast of the Week award on Jan. 7 after claiming three event titles at the NorCal Meet, becoming the first Cal gymnast since My-Lan Dodd in 2003 to earn a weekly honor.
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.