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Bears hope to keep ball rolling vs. No. 1 Oklahoma for Senior Night

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MARCH 17, 2023

The Bears, coming off of a major high with their recent record-breaking win against Army and William & Mary, are fueled up for their last home meet of the season this Saturday. Although the team will be facing its most intimidating opponent yet in No. 1 Oklahoma Saturday, the Bears couldn’t feel more prepared to fight.

After proving to itself what it is capable of at the last meet, the team has been more specifically focused on refining its technique within individual routines in practice ahead of the upcoming matchup.

“We’ve been trying to really hone in on refinement and cleaning stuff up, so this week has been more about doing less physically intensive stuff but trying to hone in on the quality of our gymnastics,” said junior Noah Newfeld. “One goal we all put on ourselves is to get the most sticks possible, because one thing we’ve been lacking all season long is the number of sticks we get in a meet.”

Although the Bears may have been lacking in technique, their last meet made it clear that they are a capable team, posting multiple personal and team-wide bests with record-hitting scores in pommel and team scores, with wins in four out of the six events.

Newfeld, who snagged multiple event wins for the Bears last Saturday, also feels “hopeful for the team,” saying that the last meet was a conference boost considering the Bears’ season so far.

“It feels like we’ve been beat down for so long, so to see a result and performance like that this late in season, it brings a lot of hope for the rest of this season,” Newfeld said.

The upcoming meet is also Senior Night, where the team’s seniors are honored at the last home meet. For Cal’s only competing senior, Will Lavanakul, this is a special moment.

“I’ve been doing a lot better in practice by refining my routine and pushing numbers, but going up at the meet, things just kind of fell apart — it’s been a recurring problem for me,” Lavanakul said. “Hopefully I can figure that out moving forward, as I really want to hit my routine at some point.”

Despite his frustrations, Lavanakul shares that he’s really happy with how the team has been progressing both on pommel and as a whole, allowing the training to finally shine through in how the team performs in competition.

Other seniors won’t get so lucky, however. Along with fellow seniors Aidan Giusti and Darren Wong, longtime team captain Yu-Chen Lee will be forced to sit out this meet out due to an injury he sustained at the meet in Colorado. Although this renders a significant switch-up in Lee’s dynamic with the team, as he has been a usual competitor for the last few years at Cal, he shares that it’s allowed him to gain an invaluable new perspective.

“It’s definitely not easy knowing I won’t get to try to end on a good note, but what’s been helping me get through it is how a lot of them have checked in with me and been there for me throughout the season,” Lee said. “It sucks, but it’s made me realize it’s not just about the scores — it’s about the bonds and relationships I have with each person on the team.”

As a soon-to-be veteran of the team, Lee spoke highly of the blue and gold’s underclassmen, saying that many of them have been stepping up and doing their best despite the high number of injuries on the team.

And so, after a successful last meet, the Bears hope to keep the ball rolling into their last meet at home to battle against the Sooners.

Contact Emily Hamill at 


MARCH 17, 2023