Road Stays Rocky as Bears Prepare for Weekend in Michigan

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In last week's home matchup against No. 16 Arizona, the Cal women's gymnastics team wrapped up a challenging Pac-10 slate that featured six nationally ranked opponents.

The Bears' upcoming schedule does them no favors, either.

Just four days after facing the Wildcats, Cal departed early Thursday morning to Kalamazoo, Mich., for Friday's showdown against the Broncos of Western Michigan at University Arena.

The Bears will then bus to East Lansing for a Sunday tri-meet against Michigan State and Ball State.

Despite being ranked below Cal, the Broncos are no slouch, as their season-high team score of 192.875 is more than a point above the Bears' best total of 2009. And while Western Michigan comes in at 1-16, Cal is still searching for its first victory in a meet this season.

The Bears' competition on Sunday does not get any easier.

The Spartans come in having just dropped out of the top 25, while Ball State's regional-qualifying score of 191.760 places the team ahead of the Bears in the national rankings.

But despite facing formidable road competition and losing a full day of practice due to travel, the Bears did not alter their normal preparation this week.

"We like to keep things consistent," freshman Alexandra Leggitt said about Cal's approach to practice leading up to the meets.

The Bears' typical routine involves a meet simulation during the last practice before each match.

According to coach Cari DuBois, the exercise prepares the team for the pressure of meet situations by having gymnasts complete just one turn at every event.

"We're in meet mode (during the simulation), so (the gymnasts) ... have to work on cleaning up and sticking their landings," DuBois said.

In addition to normalizing preparation, consistency for Cal will mean maintaining the regular slate of competitors for the meets-even when performing twice with just a day's rest in between.

"This year we don't have enough people to switch girls off and on (for) different events," Leggitt said. "But even if we did, the lineup stays the same unless someone gets hurt."

Indeed, DuBois also stressed to the Bears the importance of taking care of their bodies before and after the upcoming competitions.

"The biggest challenge (for the gymnasts during this road trip) will be ... making sure they get enough rest, adapting to the time change and making sure they stay hydrated," DuBois said.

But Leggitt did not seem concerned about the effects of a Midwest trip.

"We don't really focus on the time difference," Leggitt said, noting that road meets typically occur in the afternoons or evenings. "I find that ignoring it helps me just forget it really happened."

The Bears will have Saturday to relax prior to the tri-meet against Ball State and MSU.

Talking about her team's time off in Michigan, Leggitt said: "We'll probably do some shopping-the best therapy."


Contact Ed Yevelev at [email protected]

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