Bears Hope to Find Third Time Charming Against Stanford
Friday, February 18, 2011
Category: Sports > Winter > Gymnastics (Men's)
Isn't the Cal men's gymnastics team sick of Stanford yet?
With three dual meets against each other already wrapped up this season, the Bay Area rivals are set to meet again this Saturday at the annual Stanford Open in Burnham Pavilion. But there is another team competing, as perennial power Oklahoma will also be participating.
Cal will also be facing an international opponent in the Japanese Collegiate All-Star Team.
The Bears (2-1) are currently ranked No. 5 in the nation and only one position behind the fourth-ranked Cardinal (1-2). The rankings average team scores, and top teams are acknowledged accordingly only as the season reaches its latter stages.
Cal will not be brushing aside the familiar opposition, but is eager to face another opponent in No. 1 Oklahoma (6-0) on Saturday.
"We're excited to go up against some fresh blood," sophomore Donothan Bailey said. "I think we've all been training well and if we hit our sets like we know we can, we will make a statement at this competition."
Despite some lingering injury concerns, coach Tim McNeill is expected to display a fairly strong lineup for this competition. Top performers Glen Ishino, Bryan del Castillo and Dennis Mannhart will most likely miss out on Saturday's events, but the Bears will be boosted by the presence of senior Kyle Bunthuwong.
McNeill took a gamble at the Gold Country Classic by giving the younger gymnasts an opportunity to make their case. It paid off considerably as Bailey's all-around title winning performance led to the then-No. 2 Bears' upset over then-No.1 Stanford.
Bailey's impressive exploits were rewarded with his first MPSF Gymnast of the Week Honors. He became the second Cal gymnast this season to receive this award after Ishino was honored in January.
Last year's Stanford Open saw the Bears take home the pommel horse event as Ishino, Bailey and Bunthuwong secured all three spots on the podium. Cal also won two individual events, despite the Cardinal's overall meet title.
"It's nice to have such a top talent so close to us to compete with regularly," McNeill said.
Even though the Bears' gymnasts might know the Stanford team a little too well, the season is now beginning to gain momentum. With the goal of securing the NCAA Team Championships in mind, Cal knows the next step includes defeating the best - home and abroad - at the Stanford Open.
"It's definitely going to be tough, but we are ready to give it everything we've got against these high caliber teams," Bailey said. "And it never gets old beating Stanford."
Camellia Senemar covers men's gymnastics. Contact her at [email protected]
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