Cal buckles, settles for third place at MPSFs

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For all the effort the Cal men's gymnastics team puts into training and preparation each day when the judges aren't around, it just hasn't come through when it really matters.

The No. 3 Bears scored 356.050 to place third at the MPSF Championships this past weekend at the Cadet West Gym in Colorado Springs, Colo., and the team vibe was anything but satisfied.

"I'm embarrassed," sophomore Donothan Bailey said. "We were more than prepared and sucked."

Bailey's performance merited sixth place all-around, pacing the Bears with an 87.500. The Bears struggled to produce a solid showing in almost every event; junior Glen Ishino's win in the parallel bars was one of the few highlights, along with his second-place spot on the pommel horse.

No. 2 Stanford took home the title, scoring a 362.250, followed by top-ranked Oklahoma with 360.700. Nebraska and Air Force were fourth and fifth, respectively.

Gymnasts are rarely satisfied with the judges' evaluations but on Saturday night, the squad had no gripes with the scores it received.

"Third is what we deserved," junior Nic Blair said. "We counted so many missed sets."

Added Jeffrey Langenstein: "Conference is a preview of NCAAs and (Saturday) night was anything but what we had planned on."

This season has become a story of "what ifs" for Cal. And the team knows it can't go into the NCAA Championships with "what ifs".

"Some people continue to talk about how if we would have made all our routines, we would've won, instead of thinking we have to work our butts off to make our sets," Bailey said.

During practices, the Bears manage to pull off their routines flawlessly, but when competitions roll around, they crumble under the pressure.

"We have a lot of falls on vault, floor and high bar," junior Nic Blair said. "We've lost several points on those falls and scored low."

And that is exactly what is setting Cal apart from top teams like Oklahoma and Stanford. Both teams were able to hit close to 33 out of 36 routines on Saturday. The Bears completed just 23 of 36.

As a result, the squad isn't going down in the history books on its own terms. The final season of its program isn't giving the school the kind of punch and remorse the team was hoping for.

Despite the disappointment, the Bears have to bounce back if they want to make a statement about the school's decision to cut their Cal careers short.

They only have one more chance to prove themselves as a top team with the NCAA Championships looming in less than two weeks' time. And they only have one more chance to do it as teammates.

"We have what it takes," Blair said. "I hope we can pull things back together - that's it and that's all."


Camellia Senemar covers men's gymnastics.

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