Gymnasts leave final marks on Cal program

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The more a team sweats in a practice, the less it will bleed in battle.

But for all the blood, sweat and tears the Cal men's gymnastics team has put into its routines each day in practice, it did not translate into the success the Bears had hoped for.

In its final season in program history, Cal had to adopt a now-or-never mindset. Even with the pressure of their program being cut, the gymnasts kept training through it and left everything out on the floor.

"This is definitely the hardest I have ever worked this year," junior Nic Blair said, "and I could definitely tell the team worked really hard as a whole."

Cal started off the 2011 season strong by defeating then-No. 1 Stanford away from home. Four more competitions against the Cardinal followed but the Bears emerged victorious in only one of them.

The highlight for the Bears came when they defeated Iowa, 353.350-336.950, in their first home meet at Haas Pavilion on March 12. But in the squad's second and final home meet, it lost to Stanford. The defeat on Senior Day troubled Cal's vision heading in the MPSF Championships, where the Bears finished third out of four teams.

"The lowlight was definitely MPSF's and having an incredibly off day of competitions after two weeks of solid practice," redshirt sophomore Jeffrey Langenstein said.

Nevertheless, Cal was prepared for its final meet at the NCAA Championships. It was a bittersweet goodbye as some of the teammates teared up when the final competitors concluded. Although the Bears finished in a disappointing fourth place, the squad conceded that the other teams simply performed better.

"I just don't feel like it was the best we could do," sophomore Donothan Bailey said. "We worked too hard to not be able to have the competition of our lives."

Still, the Bears have no regrets. Every gymnast on the squad received a letter, meaning everyone competed in at least three competitions.

"Being a redshirt freshmen, and with the program cut, I saw NCAAs as my one chance to experience what most guys have four years to do," Langenstein said.

The constant question of reinstatement had been a terrible distraction for the team throughout the season. With the recent decision to reinstate Cal Baseball, the gymnasts said they had a hard time understanding why they couldn't come back.

"It is emotionally exhausting, I have to admit," Blair said.

Now that the season is over, the Bears need to recover - physically and mentally. Many will use this time to rehab their injuries and then head home for the summer break. Others will continue to train in hopes of the Olympics next year. Those gymnasts include junior Glen Ishino and Bailey, who both earned All-American statuses at the NCAA Individual Finals.

As a whole, the team remains unsatisfied with its results throughout the season. For all the sweat that drenched the Bears in practice, it led to more bloodshed in battle.

Tags: TIM MCNEILL, CAL MEN'S GYMNASTICS, DONOTHAN BAILEY


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



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