When faced with stressful or frightening situations, the human body automatically triggers a fight or flight response. Impressively, the No. 9 Cal men’s gymnastics team was able to do both, steal and fight their way through the Pac-12 invite, claiming second place with a team total of 386.950.
No. 1 Stanford took the top spot with its season-high — and NCAA season-high — team score of 412.15. No. 13 University of Washington came in third at 363.150 while No. 14 Arizona State scored 354.950.
Despite trailing their season score by nearly 6 points, the Bears posted new personal bests and season highs. Freshman Landon Wu clocked a personal best 13.550 for his parallel bars performance.
Freshman Tyler Shimizu finished his floor routine with a personal best 13.700, and second Collin Cunane made his floor debut for the season with a personal best 13.450. Sophomore Aidan Giusti made his season debut on floor, parallel bars and vault, finishing with scores of 13.200 – his personal best – 13.300 and 13.500, respectively.
“I felt like I did well; it could have always gone better, but I’m pretty happy with my performance,” Wu said. “After every competition, I learn from my mistakes and improve from there.”
The event of the night that the blue and gold struggled with was the pommel horse. Most schools saw at least one fall in the event, and the Bears finished 62,000 — 2,150 points shy of what they scored at the Stanford Open.
Despite struggling with some of the other events, the Bears showed an outstanding performance on the parallel bars and scored a season high of 66.650. Senior team captain Yu-Chen Lee led the blue and gold with 13.900 and tied for third overall.
Stanford senior Curran Phillips posted a national record 15.200 on vault while graduate student Blake Sun was first in competition for pommel horse with 13.800. Phillips and Sun also tied for first on parallel bars at 15.300.
Coming up for blue and gold, the Bears will look to face the Cardinal for the third straight time at the Big Flip Open, in which the two teams will face off. However, Cal fans aren’t so much hoping for a win as they are hoping for a solid performance and improvement from the team’s most recent score: perhaps a return to the same arena where they approached a score over 400,000 will ease the challenge of competing on new equipment.
“This is the third time I think we can expect them to do and hopefully do better for ourselves,” Wu said.
While this is an intimidating rival to face, as Wu noted, the atmosphere that is common during a rivalry matchup will lend extra energy to both teams’ performances. Stanford is predicted to pick up another win, but perhaps the tense environment will propel Cal to a season-best.
“In our past encounters at our first events, we started off a bit shaky,” Wu said. “This next competition, our goal is to start very strong and finish the competition very strong as well.”
The Bears have proven that their athletes have the talent and drive to continue to improve this season as individuals. Now the team must master consistency in all events.
In order to stick it at Stanford, Cal has to stick all of his takedowns on Sunday.
Yuqing Qiu covers men’s gymnastics. Contact her at [email protected]. Emily Hom covers men’s gymnastics. Contact her at [email protected].