Bears Lose to Stanford Despite Strong Floor Routine

Photo: <b>Sophomore Stefanie Cheng</b> scored a personal best on the floor routine, matching teammate Avery Gee with a score of 9.825.
Lara Brucker/Photo
Sophomore Stefanie Cheng scored a personal best on the floor routine, matching teammate Avery Gee with a score of 9.825.

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After the Cal women's gymnastics team struggled with consistency on the uneven parallel bars and the balance beam against Stanford, coach Cari DuBois told the team: "Let's get it back on the floor (routine), let's finish on a strong note."

And the Bears responded to do just that.

Despite falling to the Cardinal, 197.175-190.625, in Sunday's Flip for a Cure meet, Cal ended by posting a season-high team mark of 49.050 on the final routine, with five of six participants tying or setting new personal bests. Sophomores Stefanie Cheng and Avery Gee each scored a 9.825, while freshman Alex Leggitt and senior Joanna Bennett both earned personal bests of 9.775.

Junior Sophia Hocini posted a season-best 9.800 on her way to pacing the Bears with an all-around score of 38.950 to finish second overall.

Cal's strong marks on the floor contributed to the team's 16 scores overall of 9.5 or higher, and for each such score the team donated money to the Susan G. Komen Foundation as part of the meet's effort to raise breast cancer awareness.

Fans and teammates certainly appreciated the Bears' effort on the floor, which has not been Cal's signature routine this season.

Senior Bridgette Glass, who did not participate in the final rotation, admired the way her team finished.

"The floor (exercise for the Bears) was just amazing," she said. "I'm so proud of the girls."

But while Cal's success in the final event was a pleasant surprise, the Bears were uncharacteristically shaky on the balance beam, with three gymnasts stumbling and falling during their performances.

"I was really kind of surprised with our performance on the beam," DuBois said. "(It) has been our best event all year. We were just off a little bit. Sometimes when you're on four inches, things just happen."

Cal also had an uneven performance on the bars, earning a season-low team mark in the routine. Yet the Bears maintain that the results were not indicative of the work they put in during the week.

"It's just something I need to work on in competition," said freshman Erica Varon, who fell during her rotation. "I've been hitting all my routines in practice ... It's just (a matter of) experience."

When asked to evaluate Cal's bars routine, DuBois cited the need for more patience from the girls.

"When you get into competition you tend to rush ... and timing is so very important."

Meanwhile, Stanford swept all four routines, scoring over 49.00 in each. Shelley Alexander was the Cardinal's top all-around performer with 39.400, while Alysse Ishino captured both the bars and balance beam.

Yet the Bears were not fazed by their rival's performance, as their focus never shifted from their teammates during the match.

"We try to stay in our bubble," freshman Reiko Senteno said about avoiding distractions during competition. "You just want to be supporting your team (throughout the whole meet)."

Going into the season's final home meet against Arizona next Sunday, DuBois said the team will be working on perfecting landings and executions throughout the week in practice, while aiming to turn individual improvements into all-around consistency.

"We have to be able to go out there and hit four for four (routines)," she said. "We've been hitting bits of it, but we haven't been able to put it all together yet."


Contact Ed Yevelev at [email protected]

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