Cal 2017

Isabelle Castillo
  • Competed two BB routines in 2015 for a 9.750 average
Zoe Draghi
  • End-of-lineup contributor on BB, FX in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: FX – 9.895, BB – 9.845
Dana Ho
  • Did not compete in 2016
  • Contributed weekly UB, BB, FX in 2015
  • 2015 RQS: UB – 9.835, BB – 9.820, FX – 9.805
Jessica Howe
  • Competed weekly UB, BB, FX in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: FX – 9.855, UB – 9.850, BB – 9.850
Charlie Owens
  • Competed early-lineup BB, FX in 2016
  • Backup routines on VT, UB
  • 2016 RQS: FX – 9.810, BB – 9.790
  • 2016 average: VT – 9.763, UB – 9.042
  • Weekly VT, BB, frequent FX in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: BB – 9.855, VT – 9.795, FX – 9.745
Emily Richardson
  • Weekly VT, UB and postseason BB in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: VT – 9.825, UB – 9.800
  • 2016 average: BB – 9.820
Amber Takara
  • Weekly UB and backup VT in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: UB – 9.840
  • 2016 average: VT – 9.788
Alicia Gallarzo
  • Frequent VT, backup UB in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: VT – 9.840
  • 2016 average: UB – 9.648
Ariana Robinson
  • Weekly mid-lineup VT, FX in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: FX – 9.855, VT – 9.845
Yuleen Sternberg
  • Anchor-position UB routine in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: UB – 9.820
Toni-Ann Williams
  • Team-leading routine on VT, UB, FX
  • Occasional BB
  • 2016 RQS: FX – 9.935, VT – 9.865, UB – 9.855, BB – 9.465
Emily Howe
  • Did not compete in freshman year
Sofie Seilnacht
  • Weekly BB, postseason UB in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: BB – 9.825
  • 2016 average: UB – 9.700
Sylvie Seilnacht
  • Weekly VT, backup BB, FX in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: VT – 9.825
  • 2016 average: BB – 9.738, FX – 9.483
Chelsea Shu
  • Did not compete in freshman year
  • Airborne CA
  • 2016 Region 1 UB 5th, BB 5th
Cassidy Keelen
  • Texas Dreams
  • 2016 JO Nationals AA 2nd, VT & BB 3rd
  • 2015 JO Nationals AA 2nd, VT 2nd, FX 3rd
Rachel Mastrangelo
  • Southeastern
  • 2015 JO Nationals 15th AA
Mariah Peterson
  • All-American
  • 2016 JO Nationals 4th UB, 7th VT
  • 2015 JO Nationals 5th AA

Recent History
2016 – 7th
2015 – 18th
2014 – 16th
2013 – 28th
2012 – 49th
2011 – 50th
2010 – 55th

Cal is most certainly a thing now and will continue to be one in 2017, having lost zero postseason routines from last year while adding some critical freshmen who will see competition time and reinforce several lineups. And yet, the lower-seed splatfest that was the 2016 national semifinals saw Cal finish an unexpected 7th, even with a sub-196 total, leading to the odd expectation that the team will be better in 2017 than in 2016, but will actually finish worse. This is a very good team, though probably not a true Super Six contender quite yet.

Still, we can expect Cal to be more frequently 196+ in 2017, notch a few more upsets, and return to nationals. Now that it has happened once, it’s supposed to happen every year.

Top returners – Williams (9.865), Robinson (9.845), Gallarzo (9.840), Richardson (9.825), Sylvie Seilnacht (9.825)
Returning options – Palomares (9.795), Takara (9.788), Owens (9.763)

Cal was very smart with its vaulting last season, taking a roster not particularly powerful or accomplished on vault and nonetheless finishing 9th (Cal’s highest individual event ranking) through the use of a grab bag of 10.0 starts. There’s work to be done this season to restore the collection of 10.0s since two of those vaults were Yurchenko Fauxrabians (Gallarzo and Seilnacht) that will score lower this season, but it does appear that Cal is attempting to rebuild that foundation of 10.0s.

Robinson‘s handspring on, handspring front pike and Richardson‘s Kas both scored well enough last season (9.850 on controlled-landing days) and will return to important positions in the lineup. Williams is always capable of a Y1.5 but tends to go back and forth between that and the full because of wild landings on the 1.5 that make it not worth competing. She’ll be the star vaulter anyway because she can put up the team’s best score even with a full, but getting some control on her 1.5 would help Cal stay more competitive with the very best vaulting teams.

Cassidy Keelen looks the most likely of the freshmen to make the vault lineup. She competed a big Yfull in JO that would be worthy of the lineup, but she’s also training a 1.5, as is Mariah Peterson. We’ll wait and see whether those vaults end up being real, but they do theoretically provide Cal with more and bigger options. But that’s not all! Some of the other vaulters from last year, like Takara and Sylvie Seilnacht, have taken to training the tucked Y1.5 to get themselves in the 10.0 family. Jury is still out on those. I’m not sold yet. Alex Dudschus also vaulted a round-off 1/2-on, tuck 1/2 in JO, meaning Cal has the options to at least imagine a full lineup of 10.0 starts.

I don’t believe we’ll actually see all of those 10.0s come to pass since a number of them looked a little “good thing this is a soft landing” in training videos, but I do expect a lineup that is more than half 10.0 starts and can get six scores in the 9.8s, which wasn’t always happening last season. If not, they’ll also have 9.775-style options from Gallarzo, Palomares, and Owens, meaning Cal shouldn’t have any trouble filling out a usable vault lineup.

Top returners – Williams (9.855), Howe (9.850), Takara (9.840), Sternberg (9.820)
Returning options – Richardson (9.800), Sofie Seilnacht (9.700), Gallarzo (9.648), Owens (9.042)

Bars ended up as Cal’s lowest-ranked event last season in 19th position, not because of tragic routines (after January, at least) but largely because it was a lineup of fine. 9.800 here, 9.850 there, 9.825 over there, enough to be comfortably 49.1 but not enough to challenge the scores of the better teams. Williams usually leads the team here because Williams, but no one is going to mistake bars for her most impressive event.

Cal could return the six from last season and be a perfectly serviceable 49.1 again, but in terms of potential improvements over 2016, I’m looking to Dana Ho and her hopefully triumphant return from exploded-knee, and Alex Dudschus, who has very precise handstands and a big Gienger. I would also expect to see Keelen here, in addition to every other piece, though bars has tended to be her lowest-scoring event. If Cal can get a few of those new routines into the lineup along with the returning gymnasts with the best line and most potential for high scores, so Howe, Takara, and Sternberg, we could see a somewhat more 9.850y lineup. I still don’t necessarily see the big-big scores here, but getting out of the 49.1s a little more frequently looks like a possibility.

Top returners – Richardson (9.875), Palomares (9.855), Howe (9.850), Draghi (9.845)
Returning options – Sofie Seilnacht (9.825), Owens (9.705), Williams (9.465)

While beam is weirdly the most comfortable event for a number of top rosters these days, Cal has retained the proper respect for beam as obviously the most terrifying apparatus. This isn’t to say Cal was bad at beam in 2016. Certainly not, and beam was so much better than it had been the year before. It was simply exactly as terrifying to watch as beam is supposed to be. Which brings me to Toni-Ann Williams.

Toni-Ann’s front-tuck-a-thon of a beam routine is a death-defying, original delight punctuated by the rare double front dismount, but she’s so likely to fall or teeter for 9.6 that she didn’t make the final lineup last year. Getting Williams comfortable enough to hit beam is stage one of completing Cal’s transformation into a beam team. Unfortunately, Toni-Ann is still a junior, so she can’t be 2017’s annual Senior Who Finally Figured Out Beam in the grand tradition of Kat Ding, Georgia Dabritz, and Brandie Jay. We may have to wait another year. In that case, we move on to stage two of Cal’s beam transformation, Cassidy Keelen, who hasn’t even competed yet and is already the team’s best beamer.

Keelen is the secret weapon, but I also hope to see Sofie Seilnacht take on a bigger role this year, along with a full season of Emily Richardson, because they can both be quite pleasing. Strong scores from Howe, along with last year’s more reliable sets from Palomares and Draghi, mean that Cal should be able to get by even if Williams is still a year away from figuring out beam. Now, how do we get rid of the weekly two near-falls for 9.725?

Top returners – Williams (9.935), Draghi (9.895), Howe (9.855), Robinson (9.855)
Returning options – Owens (9.810), Palomares (9.745), Sylvie Seilnacht (9.412)

Floor finished as Cal’s best-scoring event in 2016, mostly because it’s floor and of course it did. And also Toni-Ann Williams. No concerns about her floor. She’ll get 9.9s, which is exactly what makes floor such an important score for Cal. While other events may lack aggressive 9.9 potential, floor has Williams and nearly similar scores from Zoe Draghi.

I expect to see Keelen and her full-in take on a critical scoring role as well, which will help Cal drop one of those early-lineup 9.7s that undermined the total too often last season. At both regionals and nationals, Cal started floor with two sub-9.8 numbers, which doesn’t cut it. I anticipate some competition for the remaining spots among returners Howe, Robinson, Owens, and Palomares to see who can be the least 9.7, which will make the lineup stronger. Cal needs to progress to the point of not having to wait for a good day to go over 49.2 on floor. For a nationals-contending team, over 49.2 on floor should be an everyday thing.

There’s no reason for Cal to get weaker in 2017. This should be a season of continued improvement, but where the team ultimately falls on that 7th-12th spectrum will hinge on how many new routines come in and filter out those less competitive early-lineup scores from 2016. That means Keelen, but not just Keelen. It also means getting routines from the other freshmen on one or two pieces, Dana Ho back on bars, and Williams on beam. There will definitely be some new sets, but is it more like four new routines or eight new routines? New is good.

Cal will also need a bunch of those potential 10.0 vaults to come to fruition because this squad does rely on start value to pump up the vault score more than most teams do. The Bears still likely lack the 9.9s (with a couple notable exceptions) to be a Super Six threat, but success this season will be built on solidifying the 9.8iness of the lineups so when those big numbers do come, they don’t have to make up for other scores. They’re adding to the pile, not filling in the ditch.

3 thoughts on “Cal 2017”

  1. Kayla Hoffman is another one who finally figured out beam in her senior year. She was sooooo shaky early in her career. Then 2011 came along and she was divine. Placed 2nd at NCAAs.

  2. I read uncle tim’s explanation of the difference between a Kas and a tsuk but it’s too technical for me to notice on the fly. It’s like seeing the difference between an Ono and a Healy.

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