After two decisive wins at home against Stanford and Arizona State, Cal narrowly maintained its undefeated streak at Oregon State on Friday, tying the Beavers 197.375-197.375. A 9.975 for Oregon State sophomore and Olympic gold medalist Jade Carey’s meet-closing floor routine pushed the home team into the lead, but a successful inquiry for Cal sophomore Mya Lauzon’s floor score brought the result to a tie.
The Bears took an early lead, starting the evening with their best mark on bars this season. Junior Andi Li’s second 9.975 this year highlighted the 49.55 rotation, but 9.9s from senior Nevaeh DeSouza, junior Gabby Perea and sophomore Maddie Williams bolstered it. Li’s near-perfect score tied Carey’s for first on bars, the only individual title for Cal on Friday — Carey swept the rest of the events outright for a 39.825 in the all-around, also good for first.
The Bears have now flirted with perfection on bars three times this year: Li has received a perfect 10 from one judge twice, and Williams once. The other half of the judging panel each meet, however, has kept Cal from recording its third-ever 10 on bars (and its fifth-ever across all four events). While the blue and gold would like to see a perfect score soon, they have made clear that their goal for each routine is to be “one day better,” not solely to seek a high score.
“I would really hope a 10 is going to come out sometime in the season, but that’s not under my control, so I’m just going to do the best that I can do every meet, and whatever they want to give me is what they give me,” Li said after the Super 16 meet, where she posted her first 9.975 this year.
A 49.15 on vault Friday night kept Cal ahead halfway through the meet, but Oregon State made up ground with a season-high 49.35 on bars. The third rotation saw the Beavers tighten the gap further with a 49.45 on beam — all five of their counting scores 9.85 or better.
With the Bears ending on one of their better events, fans may have expected a solid beam lineup to secure the team’s 10th straight win. Tight scoring and small deductions brought Cal to a 49.275, however, just its second score below 49.425 this season. The uncharacteristic mark opened the door for Oregon State, which hit 49.5 on floor for the third time this year.
“Competing at Oregon State is always an exciting and tough environment,” said co-head coach Justin Howell. “You have a great crowd, lots of support for Oregon State gymnastics, so going there as the visiting team, you’ve really got to — we call it our ‘Bear bubble.’ You’ve got to stay in that Bear bubble and keep it tight so that your mind isn’t distracted, and I think we did an excellent job of that from start to finish.”
Though the meet ended with the Beavers leading 197.375-197.35, Cal submitted a video inquiry for Lauzon’s floor, which originally scored a 9.875. One judge had accounted for a form break but did not see it in the video review, so she raised her score by 0.5, bringing Lauzon’s total score (an average of the two judges’) to a 9.9. The 0.025 bump was exactly enough to preserve the Bears’ undefeated record.
For the second meet in a row, Cal had five all-arounders — Li, DeSouza, Lauzon, Williams and freshman eMjae Frazier— a high number considering a team only competes six routines on each event. With Perea in three out of four event lineups, just seven Bears performed all 24 scored routines. In contrast, 14 different athletes posted scores for Oregon State.
“We have a lot of depth, but we go into every single meet putting our best six up for that weekend,” Howell said. “We rested eMjae (Frazier) a couple of weeks ago and put some other people in, and when we feel like that’s necessary, we definitely take a look at those different opportunities, but at the end of the day, we’re going out to compete.”
The best six gymnasts on any given meet day can vary, however, according to Howell. With athletes such as freshman Miki Aderinto and sophomore Jordan Kane regularly performing exhibitions — routines whose scores do not impact results or rankings — the Bears have athletes prepared to step up at any time.
With competitive matchups against No. 6 UCLA and No. 4 Utah in the coming weeks, though, Cal will likely continue to rely on its all-arounder method, as three Bears rank in the country’s top 20. And after barely escaping its first loss of the season, Cal will look for its strongest performances to remain undefeated.