Nov. 15, 2012
\BERKELEY - California head coach Justin Howell has announced the signing of five standouts to National Letters of Intent to join the Golden Bears for the 2014 season.
Dano Ho, Jessica Howe, Charlie Owens, Desiree Palomares and Amber Takara signed NLI's and represent the first signing class for first-year head coach Howell.
"I am thrilled to announce the addition of these five athletes to our Cal Gymnastics family," Howell said. "Each of these young ladies brings with them very impressive gymnastics resumes. They will make an immediate impact on our program and help put us on the national gymnastics map."
Ho is a level 10 gymnast from Plano, Texas, that competes for the World Olympic Gymnastics Academy (WOGA). She took a trifecta of championships at the 2012 Regional with championships in the uneven bars, balance beam and the all-around. Ho has twice competed at the Junior Olympic Nationals, taking seventh in the all-around in 2011 and 10th in the all-around in 2012. She is the reigning Texas state champion in the balance beam and runner-up in the all-around.
"Dana is an incredibly steady competitor with solid difficulty on all four events," Howell said. "Dana is the type of athlete that you can trust to do her job. She will make an immediate impact as an All-Around competitor."
Howe is also from Plano, Texas, and competes for WOGA. A Senior International Elite, she was the all-around and floor exercise champion at the 2012 Junior Olympics in addition to her floor exercised championship at the 2011 American Classic. Howe also finished second in the all-around at the event. She finished 11th in the all-around at the 2011 Visa Championships.
"Jessica competes as a Senior International Elite," Howell said. "That is the highest level in which you can compete in the world. Her elite level experience will help to make her a rock solid competitor in the NCAA."
Owens is a level 10 gymnast from Alta Loma that competes for the Charter Oak Gliders. A two-time Junior Olympic Nationals competitor, Owens took sixth in the all-around in 2011 and finished 10th and 15th in the vault and all-around, respectively. She was the vault and floor exercise champion at the 2012 Regional Championships and competed at the Nastia Liukin Cup where she placed seventh in the uneven bars.
"Charlie possesses a unique style and incredible artistry that you don't see everyday," Howell said. "She is a solid All-Around competitor with an impressive list of gymnastics accomplishments."
Palomares is a level 10 gymnast from Chino Hills, Calif., that competes for Gliders Gymnastics. She is a two-time Regional All-Around Champion, taking the top scores in both 2010 and 2012. Palomares also has experience at the Junior Olympic Nationals where she competed in 2009.
"Desiree has both Elite level and Junior Olympic experience which will make her an outstanding competitor in the NCAA," Howell said. "Her beam is stunning and she could be a national force on this event."
Takara is a level 10 gymnast from Tacoma, Wash., that competes at the Auburn Gymnastics Center. A two-time Junior Olympic Nationals competitor, Takara took 13th in the all-around in 2012 after winning the all-around title at the Regional Championships. She has been chosen to represent Region Two for international competition in Costa Rica next year.
"Amber is tough as nails and extremely dedicated; that's why I like her," Howell said. "Amber will raise our level of difficulty on every event, and she will make a huge impact on the vault and the floor exercise."
The class of five will continue the trend of strong athletes from the states of California and Washington joining the Golden Bears in addition to having two Texas gymnasts join and grow the program under Howell.
"I am incredibly excited to have such a strong group of incoming student-athletes," assistant coach Elisabeth Crandall-Howell said. "These ladies are first class individuals in all they do. We look forward to their contributions in the classroom, in the gym, and in our community. Their enthusiasm is contagious, and I cannot wait to watch it spread throughout everyone they encounter."
"We graduate six seniors this spring, and this freshmen class will make up fifty percent of next year's squad," Justin Howell added. "This class truly marks the next chapter of Cal Women's Gymnastics. I am quite positive that these young ladies are going to turn a lot of heads!"