Bears' season, program ends with fourth place at NCAAs

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After some inconsistent results early on this season, the No. 3 Cal men's gymnastics was ready to finish strong and produce the desired end result at the NCAA Championships.

Winning the title on Friday was the only option.

But in the final meet in program history, the Bears could only place fourth out of six teams.

"It hurts," sophomore Donothan Bailey said. "This wasn't the way any of us wanted it to end."

Stanford won the national title at St. John Arena in Columbus, Ohio, followed by second-place Oklahoma and third-place Illinois.

After a solid start at the NCAA Team qualifiers on Thursday, Cal was feeling optimistic and confident in the build-up to the biggest competition of the season.

"That first day was awesome," junior Nic Blair said. "We did the best we could and I don't think we could have done anything different."

The Bears failed to win any of the six events in the National Championships on Friday. Junior Glen Ishino's 15.100 mark on the pommel horse was their highest finish for second spot. Bailey took fourth with a score of 14.650 followed closely by senior Bryan del Castillo's 14.600.

On the floor, del Castillo tallied a 15.250 to lead Cal in thirteenth place. His ninth-place score of 15.00 was enough to surpass his teammates on the parallel bars as well. Senior Kyle Bunthuwong paced the Bears with a 15.100 mark on the floor event.

Despite watching their Bay Area rivals claim the championship, the Bears can revel in the fact that six of their gymnasts garnered All-American status at Saturday's NCAA Individuals Final: sophomores Christian Monteclaro, Steven Lacombe and Bailey and seniors Bunthuwong, del Castillo and Ishino.

"I'm proud of everyone," Bailey said. "We put forth a lot of effort."

Monteclaro was Cal's top performer, receiving a 16.250 on the vault event and securing second among the other gymnasts. Bunthuwong earned a bronze medal for his performance on high bar, notching a 15.100.

For all the blood, sweat and tears the team put into training and preparation each day, it just didn't come through when it really mattered.

And that was the epitome of the Bears' final campaign - the more they sweat in practice, the more they ironically bled in battle. Cal's season will be remembered, just not for the reasons the Bears had wished for.

"It didn't turn out like we had planned," Blair said, "but such is life."

Tags: TIM MCNEILL, CAL MEN'S GYMNASTICS, GLEN ISHINO


Camellia Senemar covers men's gym.



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