Bears Set for Third Dual Match Against Stanford This Season

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While four Bears participated in the Winter Cup Challenge in Las Vegas last weekend, the rest of the Cal men's gymnastics team was in preparation mode for the 23rd annual Gold Country Classic, taking place at the Oakland City Center tomorrow at 7 p.m.

After a couple of weeks off from team competition, No. 2 Cal (1-1) now faces top-ranked Stanford (1-1). The highly distinguished squads will meet for the third time this season; they have yet to face other competition. The matchup will serve as the tiebreaker after the teams split their first two encounters.

As one of the five Cal teams slashed back in September, this spring marks the Bears' last season - one short of their 100th anniversary. However, Cal may decide to rescind that decision after upwards of $10 million have been raised to help fund the programs.

The decision, set to be announced today, will bolster the team's morale and performance despite its outcome.

"No matter what happens on Friday, we will go out on Saturday motivated and will play with no regrets," coach Tim McNeill said.

Cal is currently ranked No. 2 in the nation and possesses top-five rankings in all six gymnastic events. More notably, the team holds the top spots for their parallel bars and high bar teams.

However, this event will feature a significantly altered lineup due to injuries suffered by the Bears' top four contributors: Glen Ishino, Bryan del Castillo, Kyle Bunthuwong and Dennis Mannhart. The Winter Cup Challenge last weekend sent Ishino home with a back injury and other gymnasts were setback with "fluke injuries during training," McNeill said.

The last two meets between Cal and Stanford this season saw the impact of Ishino, del Castillo and Mannhart. The most recent outing placed Ishino and Mannhart in a tie for first all-around despite Stanford taking the overall win.

The Bears emerged victorious in the first encounter of the season as once again Ishino won the all-around with a score of 90.300, followed by the strong performances of del Castillo and Mannhart. The Bears will have to approach the Gold Country Classic by giving others a chance to fill the void and hoping it doesn't prove too costly.

"This weekend will be telling for the other players," McNeill said.

With a great deal on the plate of this Falls Church, Va., native to accomplish, McNeill will approach this challenge with the same fervor and zealous pursuit that won him third place all-around at the World Championships last year.

"The goal of this season is to win the NCAA Team Championship," he said. "As long as we get healthy and have a pretty good meet, this team has what it takes to get the job done."

With the lingering injuries plaguing men's gymnastics, the team and the coaching staff will have hoped to have taken advantage of this extra time to reassemble their forces once again.


Camellia Senemar covers men's gymnastics. Contact her at [email protected]

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