Parallel Bars Can't Save Cal in Loss To Stanford

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STANFORD-Entering the last rotation on the night, the No. 4 Cal men's gymnastics team trailed No. 1 Stanford, 297.900-294.050.

"I was thinking we just had to do our job and hit our routines," Kyson Bunthuwong said. "It was what we had been telling ourselves the entire meet."

Recovering from an almost four-point deficit is no small task with only one event left, but the Bears had confidence knowing one thing-Cal had entered the meet as the top-ranked parallel bar team in the nation, and the team's last effort was about to come in that very event.

And the Bears held true to form, sweeping the parallel bars-seniors Tim McNeill and Colin Christ tying for first and junior Kyson Bunthuwong taking a close second.

But it wouldn't be enough in Cal's first dual meet loss of the season.

The Bears' last-ditch effort helped to close the lead, but in the end the top-ranked Cardinal defeated Cal at Maples Pavilion, 365.150-355.650.

The two teams were evenly matched the entire night, and three events were separated by less than a point.

Both teams were pressured to make adjustments to their lineup. Stanford had to do without the services of Sho Nakamori and two-time NCAA champion David Sender-both of whom were in Doha, Qatar, competing at the World Cup Championships as part of the U.S. Senior Men's National Team.

The Bears (6-4) also needed to fill holes in their lineup and competed only four gymnasts on the floor and vault exercises. The team had struggled in both events in their previous meet, and the Cardinal swept both events on the night, but Cal still saw improvements since the Pacific Coast Classic.

"We definitely stepped up on the floor, and that was key to keeping up the points in the competition," Kyson Bunthuwong said. "We've just been working harder in general."

Stanford (16-1) took an early 5.8-point lead over Cal after the first event. But with the help of McNeill, Christ, Bunthuwong, and Tyler Block, that would be the Cardinal's largest lead of the night.

McNeill won the parallel bars and pommel horse and took second on the rings while Block finished third on the rings.

Christ and Bunthuwong finished in the top three in the last two events, perhaps relieved by the mid-meet organizational changes.

At the start of the contest, the teams alternated routines and only one gymnast was on the competition floor at a time. But in the last two rotations, the teams competed simultaneously, due to time constraints, helping ease the pressure on the Bears.

"Simultaneous routines are what we're used to," Kyson Bunthuwong said. "Going one at a time was just more of a pressure situation."

Now at the end of the regular season, the largest pressure is the tick of the clock. Cal had two weeks off to prepare for Saturday's meet, and that rest will have to carry the team through its last homestand against No. 2 Penn State this weekend.

"We had an in-season breather to stay healthy, and now I feel that we can keep doing the routines that we need to," Kyson Bunthuwong said.


Contact Caroline Ogawa at [email protected]

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