2021 California Golden Bears

2021 CAL ROSTER
Seniors
Kyana George
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Competed AA in 8 of 10 meets in 2020
  • #1 returning score on FX (9.895), VT (9.890), BB (9.885)
  • #3 returning score on UB (9.865)
Alma Kuc
UB
BB
  • Competed 4 UBs in 2020, avg 9.819
Victoria Salem
UB
BB
  • Has not competed a scored routine
  • Showed exhibition in 2020 season
Nina Schank
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Competed 7 UB, 6 VT, 2 BB, 2 FX in 2020
  • #3 returning score on UB (9.865)
  • #4 returning score on VT (9.820)
  • Avg 9.850 FX, 9.838 BB
Emi Watterson
UB
BB
  • Competed 10 UB, 9 BB in 2020 season
  • #2 returning score on UB (9.890)
  • #5 returning score on BB (9.810)
Juniors
Maya Bordas
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Competed AA in 9 of 10 meets in 2020
  • #1 returning score on UB (9.910)
  • #3 returning score on FX (9.865), BB (9.855)
  • #5 returning score on VT (9.810)
Milan Clausi
VT
BB
FX
  • Competed VT, BB, FX every meet in 2020
  • #2 returning score on VT (9.885), FX (9.885)
  • #4 returning score on BB (9.840)
Talitha Jones
VT
UB
BB
  • Competed 8 BB, 4 UB, 3 VT before injury
  • NQS of 9.795 BB
  • Avg of 9.800 UB, 9.742 VT
Grace Quinn
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Competed FX in every meet in 2020, NQS 9.835
  • Showed 4 VT, 2 BB, 1 UB (9.775)
  • Avg 9.756 VT, 9.537 BB
Abi Solari
VT
FX
  • Did not compete in 2020
  • Competed in only the first meet in 2019
Sophomores
Nevaeh DeSouza
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Competed AA every meet in 2020
  • #2 returning routine on BB (9.865)
  • #3 returning routine on VT (9.855)
  • #5 returning routine on UB (9.845), FX (9.830)
Maya Green
UB
  • Competed 5 UB in 2020, hit 4 of 5, peak of 9.875
Natalie Sadighi
VT
  • Competed 1 VT in 2020 for 9.650
Ashton Woodbury
VT
FX
  • Competed 1 FX in 2020 for 8.500
Freshmen
Elise Byun
VT
BB
FX
  • Airborne
  • 45th AA, 2018 JO Nationals
Cosette Carranza
BB
FX
  • Texas Dreams
  • 2nd AA, 2016 JO Nationals
Blake Gozashti
BB
FX
  • Gymnastics Zone
Andi Li
VT
UB
BB

FX
  • Legacy Elite
  • 1st AA, 2018 JO Nationals
  • 3rd AA, 2020 Nastia Cup
Gabby Perea
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Legacy Elite
  • 3rd AA, 2016 junior P&G Championships
  • 6th AA, 2020 Nastia Cup
Kennedy Quay
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • SCEGA
  • 6th AA, 2018 JO Nationals

RANKING HISTORY
2020 – 9th
2019 – 11th
2018 – 9th
2017 – 16th
2016 – 7th
2015 – 18th
2014 – 16th
2013 – 28th
2012 – 49th
2011 – 50th

THE 2020 STORY
Cal will be ultimately quite comfortable with a 2020 final ranking that tied for the 3rd-best result in program history. The team managed to gain tenths even after the departure of the Toni-Ann Williams class and, after a slow start in those first couple meets, went on to rack up five 197s and position itself as a solid spoiler to get to nationals—if not one of the main picks—contending with the likes of Alabama and Denver.

DEPARTING ROUTINES
Rachael Mastrangelo – VT, FX

INCOMING ROUTINES
Andi Li – VT, UB, BB, FX
Gabby Perea – VT, UB, BB, FX
Kennedy Quay – VT, UB, BB, FX
Elise Byun – VT, BB, FX
Blake Gozashti – BB, FX
Cosette Carranza – BB, FX

2021 PROJECTION
Improvement.

This is an easy one. Among last season’s top 10 teams, Cal is dealing with the fewest routine departures while also introducing two potential stars in Andi Li and Gabby Perea. The team’s scoring potential should increase nearly everywhere, and dramatically so on an event or two. There’s every reason to think that ranking goes up in 2021.

VAULT

2020 Event Ranking: 6

Lineup locks: Milan Clausi, Nevaeh DeSouza, Kyana George
Lineup options: Maya Bordas, Nina Schank, Andi Li, Abi Solari, Talitha Jones, Gabby Perea, Grace Quinn, Kennedy Quay, Elise Byun, Natalie Sadighi

The one event on which Cal drops difficulty compared to last season is vault, where the team has lost the Y1.5 from Mastrangelo without any incoming 10.0 starts to replace it. The 1.5s from Milan Clausi and Nevaeh DeSouza will return to lead the squad along with the full from Kyana George, which is one of those “could actually score a 9.950” fulls that’s often the best vault in the lineup despite its lower difficulty.

In the broken record department, Cal would love to get Abi Solari into the vault lineup to replenish the supply of 10.0s back to last year’s level, but after a couple seasons dealing with chronic injuries and just the one competition appearance, that can’t be viewed as anything more than a bonus if it happens. Likewise, Talitha Jones has vaulted in the past but was borderline for the lineup even before last year’s ACL.

In terms of fulls to fill out the final 2-3 spots, Maya Bordas probably has the strongest one, though it’s worth noting that Nina Schank came from out of nowhere to accrue a higher NQS than Bordas on vault last season. Andi Li has long vaulted a very clean full that should do well, and we’ll see if Gabby Perea makes it in here, though it’s not the most essential event for her. We’ll get to those in a second. Other vaulters like Grace Quinn performed periodically last season, peaking at 9.800, and will probably be in the same position this season as an in-case backup.

You can see a clean lineup of six emerging here, and they’ll need to go clean because they’ll be aiming to keep pace with top-6 teams that have more 10.0 starts.

BARS

2020 Event Ranking: 8

Lineup locks: Andi Li, Gabby Perea, Emi Watterson, Nina Schank, Maya Bordas
Lineup options: Kyana George, Nevaeh DeSouza, Maya Green, Alma Kuc, Talitha Jones, Kennedy Quay, Grace Quinn

Bars projects to be the strongest event for Cal in 2021. It’s going to be a thing. No routines are lost from last season’s lineup, and the team returns the absolute musts from Watterson, Bordas, and Schank, who combined for 13 scores of 9.900 or greater in the 2020 season (so about half the time). To that returning group, Cal will add Andi Li and Gabby Perea, both of whom are exceptional on bars and have the talent to put together some of the highest-scoring routines in the country. Cal will expect that everyone going up in competition in 2021 can score a 9.9 in any given meet.

With those five above, that leaves just one spot to fight over for the likes of Kyana George and Nevaeh DeSouza, both of whom were very strong for weekly 9.850s last season (and I do still expect both to see competition time as various people come in and out of the lineup with resting and whatnot). That doesn’t even get into Maya Green, who showed plenty of potential in limited routines in 2020, as well as the objective perfection that is Alma Kuc, whose elbow injury took her out of the running last season. So basically, there are some strong 9.8+s that won’t make the lineup this year because of too many choices.

BEAM

2020 Event Ranking: 12

Lineup locks: Andi Li, Gabby Perea, Kyana George, Nevaeh DeSouza, Maya Bordas, Milan Clausi
Lineup options: Emi Watterson, Nina Schank, Kennedy Quay, Talitha Jones, Grace Quinn, Blake Gozashti, Elise Byun, Cosette Carranza

Cal will enjoy a similarly deep group on beam, where most of the roster can deliver at least a fairly believable beam routine, if not a good one. Still, there are enough musts in this group that there doesn’t look to be too much room for the maybes. I accidentally listed six people as lineup locks, so there’s that. You’re welcome.

Both Li and Perea are nearly as known for beam as they are for bars and should deliver the lineup’s top routines in 2021. As far as returning athletes, Kyana George broke through last season for the team’s top score after spending time as a borderline lineup member for the previous season and a half, so that’s also a boon to the beam prospects. Nevaeh DeSouza contributed her most important routine on beam in 2020, and Milan Clausi and Maya Bordas are always good for 9.8s with the occasional 9.9 thrown in there on the most secure days.

That group of six ends up excluding some of the most beautiful beamers on the roster like Emi Watterson and Nina Schank and my sleeper beam pick Blake Gozashti, as well as typical leadoff Talitha Jones and freshman Kennedy Quay (I don’t really know where she fits but she has done well recently on bars and beam in JO). Still, with two incoming stars and four proven entities returning, there may not be a lot of extra room.

FLOOR

2020 Event Ranking: 13

Lineup locks: Kyana George, Milan Clausi, Maya Bordas, Andi Li
Lineup options: Gabby Perea, Nevaeh DeSouza, Grace Quinn, Nina Schank, Abi Solari, Elise Byun, Blake Gozashti, Kennedy Quay, Cosette Carranza

Floor has spent time as Cal’s weakness—the team’s lowest-ranked event each of the last three seasons—but we did see an improvement in 2020 when Cal got up to 13th, the best floor ranking since the spring of 2016, back when we still had hopes and dreams.

As on the other events, Cal returns the significant scoring meat of last season’s lineup, so whether the team can improve here probably depends on what ends up happening with Li and Perea. Perea has always been known for bars and beam, and those are the events where Li has long shown “get in a college lineup yesterday” gymnastics as well, but Li has also typically scored just as well on floor, and you’d probably like to see Perea make this lineup too. Basically, Cal will be looking for similar lineup rejuvenation from its new stars on this event.

Kyana George and Milan Clausi bring the team’s best returning floors, with Maya Bordas starting to get to their level as well after going 9.9 a couple times last season. Nevaeh DeSouza is another who competed floor every week last year and has the potential to grow from the lower 9.8s we typically saw into higher scores and more scoring responsibility. I expect to see her. Grace Quinn and Nina Schank showed an ability to avoid 9.775-itis last season, a major aspect of Cal’s scoring improvement on floor, and could continue to make their mark should the lineup allow (and the note about Abi Solari on vault applies here as well). Again, the slate of believable options has expanded.

7 thoughts on “2021 California Golden Bears”

  1. I am most excited to see how Cal will compete this year. They should make Nationals as a full team. Depending how Li and Perea pan out they could spoil and be on of the final 4 on the floor.

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  2. I believe Elise Byun is also training a 10.0 vault (tsuk full) so that is another one to throw in the mix. Fingers crossed we get to see the amazing Bears squad reach their potential this year. (And, actually compete… NorCal is looking a bit rough in terms of options for qualifying meets with all the shutdowns…)

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  3. The depth is unbelievable this year at Cal. At most top 20 schools, Schank, DeSouza, and Perea would be cornerstone AAers but here George, Li, Bordas, and Clausi are such a strong group of 4 that everyone else has to fight for every lineup spot. With UCLA losing a lot of important routines spots 3 and 4 in the final after Oklahoma and Florida are looking very much open between LSU, Utah, Michigan, Denver, and Cal.

    I do hope that they get another 10.0 start from either Solari or Byun though.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m concerned about Alabama because they are relying a lot on AA from Adams and Dogette without a lot of depth if they have issues settling into lineups. Whereas Michigan, Cal, and Denver all have improved depth this year and then LSU and Utah are perennial contenders who haven’t lost a lot from last year

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      2. I think Alabama’s coaching is notably worse than Cal or Denver’s and probably Utah’s too. Bama often has strong ex-elite and L10 freshmen who end up as kind of mediocre performers (for a top team) throughout their careers. Cal and Denver have lesser-known recruits and end up getting more out of them. So I’m reluctant ever to expect much from Bama.

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      3. Alabama “relying on Doggette and Adams for the AA without a lot of depth”? What team are you watching?
        You are missing Graber, Olsen, Blanco, Klopfer, and Givens, all have specific slots in the line ups. Isabella Martin has the potential to be a sleeper and be a rock in the NCAA. Losing Burgess for the season is a stroke of bad luck however.

        Agreed that the Childers, Desch, Mahoney, Dickson cohort was underwhelming and underperformed given their talent.

        Agreed that Duckworth isn’t the best head coach and getting rid of Raschilla was a bad move on her part to save her job.

        Disagree about Utah not losing a lot. Tessen, Dula, and Reinstadtler are big losses that Gilstrap and Stanhope cannot replace entirely. The team also never replaced Skinner completely and they were still in the top 5.

        Florida, Oklahoma, LSU, Utah, Michigan, Bama should be top 6
        Denver, UCLA, Cal, Minnesota are the next tier.
        The rest of the SEC is the next tier battling to get into the top 10.

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