Men's Gymnasts Down Card Again

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The Bears could not do it in football. They could not do it in basketball. But they can do it in gymnastics.

That is, the Cal men's gymnastics squad can defeat Stanford. In fact, the Bears have defeated the Cardinal three times in as many weeks, and Saturday's Cardinal Open at Palo Alto was the latest display of Cal's prowess.

The No. 8 Bears (5-0, 5-0 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) remained unbeaten, outscoring the No. 15 Cardinal (2-3, 2-3), 224.925-220.050, and No. 20 UC Santa Barbara (0-5, 0-5), which finished at 203.200.

Meanwhile, the Cal women's gymnastics squad dropped its third straight decision, 193.675-192.00, to Oregon State at the Recreational Sports Facility Friday night.

But the story of the day for the men was not the latest win over Cal's rival down the peninsula. Rather, it was the season-high score turned in by the Bears. With the help of freshman Michael Ashe, who won the all-around with 56.025, the team improved by more than two points over last week's 222.700.

The team is striving to improve every week in order to reach the 230-point mark, the level at which a team may consider itself a contender for the NCAA championships in Iowa in April.

"I thought we did some nice routines, and we're getting closer and closer to getting the scores we need to get," Cal coach Barry Weiner said. "In fact, we had the potential to score two or three points higher. I think by the end of the year, we will be a 230 (point) team."

Junior Tal Moscovitz agreed.

"We had good performances on pommel horse and rings that improved our score significantly," said Moscovitz, who earned All-America honors on floor and horse in 1999. "I think that 230 is reachable. We just need time to get things together."

In its loss to the Bears, Stanford showed improvement as well. Saturday marked a season-high score for the Card, an increase of more than four points over last week's 215.605. But the team has tough road ahead of it if it wishes to contend for the NCAA championships, according to Weiner.

"By the end of the season, (Stanford) will be a tough team, but when you're only scoring 215, it is easy to get five points better," Weiner said. "But when you score in the 228 range and try to go up to 230, it is very difficult as you add to the team score."

The Cal women's team also posted its best score of the season, but it was not enough to defeat a powerful Beavers squad.

Cal (1-3, 0-3 in the Pac-10) led No. 8 Arizona State last week until a lackluster floor excercise performance took it out of contention on the final event. This time, OSU swung to a gaping lead on the uneven bars, their first event, and the Bears never recovered.

Beavers gymnasts swept the top three spots on the bars, and standout freshman Tanya Ricioli - last week's Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week - won the all-around with a score of 39.200, edging Cal's Leila Khoury, who scored a 39.050.

Khoury proved to be the glue holding together a team hampered by injuries, finishing third on the balance beam with a score of 9.775 and second on the floor exercise with a 9.800.

But the Bears lacked difficulty on their floor routines due to injuries to starters sophomore Lindsay Baker and senior Bridgett Coates. Both gymnasts are coming back from injury, and Cal coach Trina Tinti said she expects them to compete in full routines by the end of the season.

"We need more depth on floor," Tinti said. "Bridgett was watered down because we wanted to be safe. We need to upgrade floor and put it all together."


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