Bears Strike Gold in Upsetting No. 1 Stanford

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In only a span of a few days, the Cal men's gymnastic team has had to encounter trying circumstances, conquer its fears and deal with hardship head-on.

Going into Saturday's dual meet with Stanford at the Gold Country Classic, the squad was not tagged as the favorites. Without star gymnasts Glen Ishino, Dennis Mannhart and Bryan del Castillo, not many projected a favorable outcome for the Bears.

But coach Tim McNeill's call was not unheard and the remaining gymnasts stepped up admirably as sophomore Donothan Bailey's all-around title winning performance led No. 2 Cal (2-1) to victory over No. 1 Stanford (1-2).

Just 24 hours earlier, Cal had announced its decision to reinstate three of the five athletic teams that originally were set for elimination. Along with baseball, men's gymnastics was part of the unfortunate pair.

"This day just keeps getting worse," freshman Matthew del Junco said Friday.

But the resilience that McNeill has instilled in his squad was prevalent throughout as the Bears overhauled the Cardinal by winning four team events: floor, parallel bars, high bar and vault.

Sophomores Steven Lacombe and Christian Monteclaro walked away with titles on rings (15.1) and vault (15.9), respectively, while junior Nic Blair won the pommel horse with a score of 15.2. Tallying onto his all-around victory, Bailey also took home the high bar event.

"We approached Saturday's meet like any other," McNeill said. "Despite the bad news, we turned it into motivation and kept up our performance."

Cal and Stanford were very familiar with each other; neither team has yet to match up against other opposition this season. After splitting their first two encounters earlier this season, the Bears were able to pull out a win without their leaders on the floor.

Even though the Cardinal did rest some of its more experienced gymnasts, Saturday's results indicated that Cal is a complete squad, only getting closer to its goal of winning the NCAA Team Championships in Columbus, Ohio come April.

"It's nice to have such a top talent so close to us to compete with regularly," McNeill said.

In the meantime, the Bears can look forward to their upcoming meets, particularly next Saturday's, as the gymnasts travel to the Stanford Open.

Although it's unlikely the team will reach the program's century mark next season, Cal is brushing off their injuries, confronting painful issues and leaving it all out on the floor.

"It's our last season, and we're going to do this right," redshirt freshman Jeffrey Langenstein said.

Tags: TIM MCNEILL, CAL MEN'S GYMNASTICS


Camellia Senemar covers men's gymnastics. Contact her at [email protected]



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