The Daily Californian Online

Bears Send Three to the NCAA West Regional

By Ed Yevelev
Contributing Writer
Friday, April 3, 2009
Category: Sports > Winter > Gymnastics (Women's)

For the fourth consecutive year, the NCAA women's gymnastics West Regional will be a destination for Cal.

The Bears will send three representatives to Bank of America Arena in Seattle for Saturday's meet.

Junior Sophia Hocini, in her third straight regionals appearance, will compete in the all-around-the same event in which she finished ninth at last year's competition. Senior Bridgette Glass, an 11th-place finisher on the beam in last year's competition, enters her third and final Regional as a bar specialist.

And the team's lone regionals newcomer is sophomore Avery Gee, who will be performing on the floor.

The implications of Saturday's competition are substantial: The top two all-around performers who are not on a qualifying team and the individual event winners will earn trips to the NCAA national championships.

Adding to the pressure is the prospect of performing without the support of fellow Cal gymnasts, since the Bears have not qualified as team.

"I would have to say it's a completely different experience when you're not there with your whole team," Glass said.

But while this competition will be far from ordinary, the Cal gymnasts' preparation is no indication.

"We're preparing the same way we have for any other meet," Hocini said.

Added Glass: "For Sophia and Avery both of them are good competitors, and their preparation for this meet has been all of our meets this season."

Indeed, Hocini and Gee are the only two Bears who have competed in every event this year.

Cal should also be aided by the momentum of a solid performance against elite competition in last weekend's Pac-10 championships at Stanford. Despite not matching last year's fifth-place finish, coach Cari DuBois felt the Bears, who did not record a single fall, had their best meet of the year.

"(The 191.750 team mark was) a little lower than our best score of the year," DuBois said. "But that tends to happen when you have four judges on each event and the level of competition was even more competitive than regionals."

Quite fittingly, Cal's regional representatives turned in the Bears' top individual performances.

Glass earned the team's only top-10 finish with a 9.850 on the beam to place seventh. Hocini paced the Bears on the all around, placing 12th overall with a 38.650, while Gee earned Cal's top floor routine mark of 9.725.

On Saturday, it will be these three Bears gymnasts competing on their own for a shot at nationals.

And while DuBois hopes for big things this weekend from the trio, she also hopes to see more teammates join them at regionals in 2010.

"You can sit there and dwell on the fact that your team is not there," she said. "Or you can go and gain the experience and come back and ... help the team get to where they need to be ... so that the whole team's there next year."

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