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Golden Medals: Historic win over Utah for Cal Women’s Gymnastics; Rugby passes tough exam in win over UBC

Calympian Toni-Ann Williams had a near perfect, meet ending floor routine to put the Bears on top.

Toni-Ann Williams lead the Golden Bears to a big upset win over No.4 Utah last Saturday.
Cal Athletics Twitter

Be on the look out for the Big Splash post on Sunday as Cal Women’s Water Polo looks to spoil Stanford’s perfect season thus far. Golden Bears are unfortunately coming off two close losses to the LA schools this past weekend; that possibly makes them that much more dangerous in this rivalry match.

Cal Women’s Gymnastics beats No.4 Utah

If you missed the Cal Women’s Gymnastics victory from either in person at Haas or from TV on the Pac-12 Networks, watch the highlight below:

Cal Women’s Gymnastics knocked out power house Utah last Saturday night. What is even more impressive is that the Bears did not win because the Utah Red Rocks made mistakes. Nope, the Bears won by being the near best version of themselves, tying the program record high of 197.500 to edge Utah’s 197.450.

The difference of an extremely close contest ends up being Cal’s Jamaican Calympian Superstar in Toni-Ann Williams. After missing last year with an Achilles injury, the plan was to rest Williams during the final floor rotation - where she had flirted with perfect 10’s in the past, just like last week. However, after Williams’ very strong beam routine of 9.900 (which the Bears needed after Cassidy Keelen had a costly balance check during a non-skill part of her routine), Williams apparently lobbied to have the shot to win this meet for the Golden Bears. When one judge gave Toni-Ann’s virtually flawless routine a 10 (the other judge gave it a 9.900), the Bears knew that they have knocked off the Red Rocks in the program’s first dual meet victory over the gymnasts from Utah.

By competing in all four events, Toni-Ann Williams won the all-around with her career best 39.700 score. Freshman Kyana George also set a career best with an all around of 39.500. It was an all-around team effort for the Golden Bears, who for the entire night were trading great routines back and forth with Utah.

With the NCAA Championships narrowing the final field from 12 to 8 teams, the Golden Bears need to consistently perform this well. Bears had a close call two weeks ago when they hosted UCLA at Haas. Although the Bears also broke 197 in team score, they fell short to the Bruins. By being able to improve on that outing, the Bears earned this historic win. The hope now is for the Bears to consistently perform this way for the rest of the season.

Bears will honor their seniors this Saturday when they host their final home meet of the year against Central Michigan. Although Toni-Ann Williams will return next year, after earning a medical exception for her injury shortened junior year, this is her class that will be honored. The trio of Arianna Robinson, Yuleen Sternberg, and Alicia Gallarzo all came up big against Utah. They have saw the growth of the Cal Women’s Gymnastics program; this may be the year where the program achieved unprecedented height at the NCAA national championship.

Cal Rugby stays perfect, beats British Columbia, USC, Santa Clara

Cal Rugby passed the biggest test of the season thus far, when they defeated the very mature University of British Columbia Thunderbirds squad last Saturday. Even though there were some serious concerns about this potential rebuilding season, the Golden Bears have proved to be a tough bunch despite the youth found across the starting 15.

Cal 39, British Columbia 36

It was a very tough battle, but the Golden Bears came back in the 2nd half to beat UBC. In the 2nd half, Varsity Cup Championship Final MVP Kevin Sullivan scored a try before the reigning CRC leading scorer Sam Cusano added a try. Jamie Howells in his first year of kicking duty for the Bears were able to convert two penalties and 3 of 4 conversions.

Bears credited one another for playing a complete match. This opponent is likely amongst the best that the Bears will face in 2018. This victory is something that Jack Clark’s men can lean on when the going gets tough in the middle of a match this season; if they can do it against UBC, the Golden Bears are certainly capable of coming back against any side.

The Scoring Timeline vs. British Columbia

02:00 Aidan Flynn 5, Jamie Howells 2

06:00 UBC (Clint Lemkus) 5, (Theo Sauder) 2

07:00 Nic Mirhashem 5

13:00 UBC Connor Sampson 5

18:00 Jamie Howells 3

19:00 UBC (Cole Keffer) 5, (Theo Sauder) 2

23:00 Keanu Andrade 5, Jamie Howells 2

27:00 UBC (Elias Ergas) 5, (Theo Sauder) 2 32:00 UBC (Jake Lan) 5

Halftime Score: British Columbia 31, California 22

43:00 Kevin Sullivan 5, Jamie Howells 2

50:00 Sam Cusano 5, Jamie Howells 2

70:00 Jamie Howells 3

80:00 UBC (Cole Keffer) 5

Final Score: California 39, British Columbia 36

The Team vs. British Columbia 15. Flynn, 14. Cusano, 13. Dyer (Purdey @ 10:00, Dyer @ 20:00), 12. Saunders (Purdey @ 57:00), 11. Tavenner (Goena 69:00), 10. Howells, 9. Andrade (Kurihara @ 68:00), 1. Sullivan. 2. Ogburn (Iscaro @ 74:00), 3. Wiley (Baylor @ 76:00), 4. Salter, 5. Bader, 6. Spradling, 7. Mirhashem (Heaney @ 08:00, Mirhashem @ 18:00), 8. Robles

Cal 145, USC 0

Not much to say about this one, as the Cal reserves had an easy time against the relatively new USC program

Cal 100, Santa Clara 3

It is another chance for reserve players to shine as the Golden Bears easily dispatched the Broncos.

Interestingly, coach Jack Clark is sticking with his original plan to play the reserves for this weekend’s road match at UBC on Sunday. Unless the Thunderbirds also play their reserves, it is almost guaranteed that UBC will retain the “World Cup” which is given to the winning team that score the most points across the two legs of this changing rivalry. In recent years, UBC has fielded more of a pro team with a few mid-twenties graduate students who have exhausted their USA collegiate rugby eligibilities. As a response, the Bears have shifted focus away from the results of this long standing rivalry but use it more as a learning opportunity. Bears will put the perfect season record and the “World Cup” in the hands of their younger players, who will experience trial by fire this Sunday.

Cal Beach Volleyball (2-1) utilizes new lineup in new year

Despite returning a lot of the same players from last year, Cal Beach Volleyball’s lineup looks pretty different from last year. Mia Merino, who played at the No.1 pair for the Bears in her 1.5 season with the team before getting hurt, has dropped to No.4 (likely because she is not 100% yet). The freshman duo of Mirkovic and Inman is already the Bears’ 2nd pair. Lindahl who paired with Dueck last year is now playing Gaffney at one. Bark and Campbell also each has a new partner.

No. 1: Jessica Gaffney-Iya Lindahl

No. 2: Mima Mirkovic-Alexia Inman

No. 3: Bryce Bark-Madison Dueck

No. 4: Mia Merino-Caroline Schafer

No. 5: Grace Campbell-Maddie Micheletti

The Bears dropped the season opener 3-2 to St. Mary’s before beating Pacific 4-1. Bears then swept Santa Clara 5-0 for their home opener on Wednesday. The freshman duo of Mirkovic and Inman are a perfect 3-0 on the year. All four other pairs are 2-1 on the year.

Bears will travel to South Bay to play against San Jose State this weekend before traveling down to Stanford for the Stanford Tournament (where they will play 4 teams that are NOT STANFORD) next weekend.

Cal Lacrosse (3-2) splits two road games in New England

The Golden Bears stay above 0.500 in 2018 by splitting their two games in New England last weekend. Given how the majority of the roster comes from the East, these annual trips allow their families and friends to see them play without a trip West.

Cal 8, UConn 12

Bears had an early lead but a 5-goal scoring streak by the Huskies was not something that the Bears can overcome. Jenny Wilkens made 13 saves. 5 different Bears scored a goal.

Cal 9, UMass-Lowell 5

Kirsten Swanson and Lauren Hickman both had a hat-trick for the Bears. Wilkens move up to 6th all time by collecting 4 ground balls in this one. Bears took an early lead in the first half and never looked back.

Bears will next host Robert Morris on Monday before starting Pac-12 play at Oregon and Colorado next weekend.

Cal Men’s Gymnastics to visit Stanford for the 3rd time this season

No.13 Golden Bears will make yet another trip to Stanford this weekend, where they will compete against No.3 Stanford, No.7 Illinois, No.8 Michigan, and national teams from Canada and Japan. Bears have placed 2nd behind Stanford in both of the previous two outings. Nonetheless, Golden Bears do claim victories in those meets over Washington and then Washington and Arizona State.

Lead by Aaron Mah, who have won the all around titles in both meets on the year, the Bears will seek to upset these higher ranked teams this Saturday.

The Bears will also celebrate the 50 year anniversary of their 1968 national championship winning squad. Bears will host on March 24th after trips to Oklahoma and Minnesota for the next two weekends.