Bears Have 'Nothing to Lose' in Pac-10 Championships

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Friday's Pac-10 championships do not offer the Cal women's gymnastics team an opportunity for a resume win.

No automatic bids are available to ensure a trip, along with 35 other teams in the country, to the NCAA Regional Championships.

Simply put, the Bears already know going into Stanford's Maples Pavilion that they cannot qualify for Regionals as a team.

But is this meet meaningless for Cal? Hardly.

The Bears are approaching the meet with much to gain -- both as a team and individually.

Senior Bridgette Glass looks for all of the competing gymnasts to continue perfecting their routines, and to work towards achieving a new team high-score to close the season.

To Glass, this means: "Refining all of the little tenths of deductions that add up and hurt us. For example, sticking our landings, hitting our handstands on bars, minimizing our wobbles on beam and having good, clean landings on both vault and floor."

Against a powerhouse Pac-10 conference, in which four of Cal's six opponents are nationally ranked, these small details will determine how the Bears will follow up last year's fifth-place finish and 193.400 mark.

Execution can also make or break Glass' opportunity to qualify for a return trip to the NCAA Regionals -- this time, on the bars.

"You see a big difference in scoring, especially when you get towards the end of season at conference (championships)," Glass said. "Every little deduction counts."

Indeed, in the regional scores for the uneven bars, just over 0.1 points separate No. 20 Glass from frontrunner Leslie Mack of Oregon State.

Should she make it, the road will certainly not have been easy for Glass, who has had to overcome a number of lower-body injuries throughout her career.

Yet her success this season on bars has come right out of this adversity.

"Bars was the one event that I was able to continue to work on during my recoveries," Glass said. "The extra work on bars has really helped me ... the most this year to be consistent and confident."

Consistency would certainly describe all-arounder Sophia Hocini -- another Cal gymnast who hopes to use the Pac-10 championships in solidifying an individual berth at Regionals.

"For (Sophia) it's more about her feeling better than it is getting more numbers (this week in practice)," coach Cari DuBois said of Hocini, who has not missed a single event this season.

The junior, who is the only other regional representative from the 2008 Bears in action on Friday, comes in as the West Region's 10th-ranked all-around competitor, with a regional qualifying score of 38.825.

Rounding out Cal's postseason hopefuls is sophomore Avery Gee, who currently ranks 16th in the all-around despite competing in her first season of collegiate bars in 2009.

Gee also comes in at 17th in the West Region in her signature event, the floor exercise, with an RQS of 9.815.

But despite the pressure of competing for a possible Regional birth and having to endure a hectic three-hour meet, Glass maintains that Pac-10 championships are one of the most fun meets for her and the team.

"There is so much energy, and great gymnastics to experience," Glass said.

Talking about just what kind of experience she wishes for the Bears on Friday, DuBois added:

"We have nothing to lose, and I want us to go out on the floor and be aggressive, and finish off the season as a team the best that we possibly can."


Contact Ed Yevelev at [email protected]

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