No. 8 Cal Breaks Season-Opening Record at Super 16

No. 8 Cal Breaks Season-Opening Record at Super 16

The Bears take first place with a 197.475, Li wins the all-around title

LAS VEGAS, NEV. – The No. 8 California women’s gymnastics team kicked off the season with a historic performance Saturday afternoon, recording the best overall score in a season-opening meet in program history. The Bears posted a 197.475, the 11th-best score in Cal Lore, and won three of four events and claimed the individual title in all four.

18 Iowa (196.225) took second in the meet followed by No. 24 Arizona State (195,775) in third and No. 22 BYU (193.775) in the fourth.

“The most important thing about this performance is the confidence it gives our team,” said co-coach Justin Howell. “They’ve trained really hard, they’ve shown us in the gym and in numerous meetings within the squad, and the different pressure situations we’ve put them in so they can go out and have a great first meeting. This environment had a championship feel to it. We were on the podium competing against good teams in an event that really replicates a postseason meet. For them to come out and not have a perfect meet, struggle a little bit and scoring the way they did is just building confidence going into the rest of the season.”

Junior Andi Li took the all-around title with a total score of 39.450 and tied her career high on uneven bars with a 9.950, which also ranks second in program history. One of the two judges even scored it a perfect 10.

“Andi Li is an amazing athlete, she’s such a beautiful gymnast, and I think she’s starting to believe that, too,” Howell said. “She came into this meet not feeling well just the night before and she put that aside, let alone her training and the atmosphere and the fun of being around her team. She competed like a true champion. It was a lot of fun to she saw today”.

eMjae Frazier was electric in her collegiate debut leading the pack with a 9.950 on the beam and floor routine. After struggling in the first two rotations, she completely turned it around by tying the program record on beam and the second-highest score on floor.

“What eMjae Frazier did today was unbelievable,” Howell said. “Both [Co-Head Coach Liz Crandall-Howell] and I told him that what he did, having the struggles he did in the first two routines and finishing the way he did, is a bigger win and a better win than going out and having a perfect meet the seen. There’s a lot of lessons learned for both him and us in seeing him handle that situation and how to help him get through these kinds of things.”

As the meet’s top seed, the Bears took the events in Olympic order by starting their day on vault. Mya Lauzon began her sophomore season, tying the meet’s best score and setting a new career high with a 9.925. A 9.990 by Senior Nevaeh DeSousa, the third-highest score in the event, helped the Bears earn a team total of 49.150 and put them ahead after the first rotation.

Cal posted a 49.425 on the uneven bars thanks to Li’s performance and strong outings from junior Gabby Perea and sophomore Ella Cesario. Perea took silver in the event with a 9.900 and Cesario placed fourth with a 9.875 in her first collegiate performance.

The team’s lead extended in the third rotation as the Bears posted a 49.475 on the balance beam, the third-best total in program history. Frazier led the way with her near-perfect performance, and sophomore Maddie Williams finished right behind her in a tie for second with a 9.900, which tied her career high.

Cal closed out the afternoon on floor, again led by Frazier and again having a second Bear on the podium in Lauzon, who posted a 9.925.

The Bears now have their sights set on the Wasatch Classic next weekend in West Valley City, Utah. There they will face Iowa again along with the state’s no. 14 of Oregon and Pittsburgh.

“We’re going to take this meeting and put it in the trust bucket,” Howell said. “We shake it off, get back in the gym and go to work. We always tell our team that their job doesn’t change. Just because we came out and had a strong first meet doesn’t mean the next meet is any harder . or any other.”

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