Hocini Wins All-Around in Loss to Wildcats

Photo: <b>Senior Joanna Bennett</b> took second in the all-around with a 38.800 in her final meet at Haas Pavilion.
Nick Fradkin/Staff
Senior Joanna Bennett took second in the all-around with a 38.800 in her final meet at Haas Pavilion.

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In its last home meet of the season, the Cal women's gymnastics team boasted a number of individual accomplishments despite losing to No. 16 Arizona, 194.625-191.375.

Sophia Hocini paced the Bears on the floor and the vault on her way to winning the all-around competition and tying a season-high mark of 38.950.

The junior has been the Bears' top all-arounder in all but one of Cal's meets this season.

"(Sophia is) an incredibly mentally tough competitor," coach Cari DuBois said about Hocini's success throughout the year. "She's the way she is because of how she practices ... and really makes every turn count."

However, Hocini's consistency throughout the match was not replicated by all of the Cal gymnasts. The Bears trailed by less than a third of a point following the first rotation, but mistakes on the balance beam and uneven bars proved costly, as they allowed the Wildcats to build upon their early lead.

In particular, sophomore Stephanie Cheng took a hard fall during her bar routine, and did not compete for the rest of the meet.

"I didn't want to take a chance with Stephanie," DuBois said about keeping Cheng out. "It doesn't look like anything major, so that's good, but I didn't want to push it."

Speaking about her fall, Cheng said: "It's not something I usually do ... just some bruised toes, but I should be fine."

Cheng also took the time to recognize the team's senior gymnasts, who made their last appearances at Haas Pavilion.

"Our seniors were a crucial part of our team," Cheng said. "I'm really going to miss them."

Indeed, Jessica Kelley has contributed as an undergraduate assistant coach for the Bears following her season ending injury, while the team's pair of senior competitors, Joanna Bennett and Bridgette Glass, went out with strong performances on Sunday.

Glass captured the uneven bars with a 9.800-just short of her season-high mark-while Bennett's career high 38.800 was enough to take second place in the all-around competition.

"I basically just went in and had no regrets," Bennett said about her mindset going into her final performance at Haas Pavilion. "I just wanted to finish up my senior year at home hitting four for four."

And moments after hearing their names in the award results, Bennett and Glass joined Kelley on stage as the senior gymnasts were honored with their parents in a ceremony that included a tribute video from the rest of the team.

After the meet, Kelley, who was unable to compete in her final home appearance, talked about how much her fellow seniors have become more than just teammates over their time at Cal.

"Bridgette and I actually used to be roommates ... and Joanna and I just got really close this year," Kelley said. "We (three) hang out all the time, and its going to be really hard not seeing them all the time."

Kelley also praised DuBois, whom the senior has regarded as a mother figure to her and the rest of the team: "She's always there, wanting us to do our best."

DuBois will look for the team to do just that, as the Bears will become road warriors for the rest of the season.


Contact Ed Yevelev at [email protected]

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