Jan. 2, 2013
BERKELEY -The California women's gymnastics team will open its 2013 home schedule when the Golden Bears welcome Auburn, Arizona, and Kentucky to Haas Pavilion on Sunday at 2 p.m. Admission is free.
Cal will open the Justin Howell era by returning eleven athletes from last year's squad. Leading the way will be seniors Mariesah Pierce, Madisyn O'Brien, and Stina Olivere, as well as junior Dallas Crawford. Pierce and O'Brien were Cal's two all-around competitors last season, and both were selected to the NCAA Regionals. Pierce had to miss the second half of last season, but her score of 39.150 against UCLA last year was tops on the team. O'Brien's score of 39.025 placed her ninth at the Pac-12 Championships. Olivere and Crawford may head to the top rankings in the nation on the uneven bars this season. Both earned marks of 9.875 last season on the apparatus, which tied for fourth in the Cal record book.
The Golden Bears welcome three freshmen this year who should contribute right away. Kristina Heymann, Serena Leong, and Jordan Widener will look to make a positive impact in their first action of the year.
Auburn (13), Arizona (19), and Kentucky (25) were all ranked in the top-25 in the Preseason Coaches' Poll. Cal has only faced Kentucky and Auburn once before, and lost each meet. The Golden Bears last squared off with the Arizona Wildcats in the regular season on March 4 of last year, when they competed in a tri-meet at Stanford. Cal lost to the Wildcats 195.025-191.450.
Sunday will be the first of five home meets for the Bears, who will also host Stanford on Jan. 26, Oregon State on Feb. 3, Brown and San Jose State on Feb. 18, and Nebraska on March 16. The Arizona meet also marks the first of seven Pac-12 Conference competitions in 2012, leading up to the league championships on March 23 in Corvalis.