LIVE BLOG: No. 47 Air Force at California

This meet is California’s first competition of the year, and all eyes will be on freshmen Andi Li and Gabby Perea. Both gymnasts featured prominently in preseason videos and looked impressive, especially on bars and beam. They could have an immediate impact on the team. The Golden Bears ranked 10th in the country last March when season was cancelled but were eighth in this year’s preseason coaches poll. California was impressive on bars last year but struggled on floor, so we look forward to seeing whether the large freshman class will help the team with consistency there. We also wonder how the Golden Bears are doing injury-wise. Will junior Abi Solari finally get back to competition after sitting out the past two years? Will senior Victoria Salem finally debut on bars and beam? Is junior Talitha Jones back from an ACL tear? Tune in on Saturday to find out.

Air Force bettered its season-opening score by almost two points last week at Denver, but the magical 193-plus number is still elusive, as the Falcons struggled on bars for the second week in a row. Star Tyler Davis, who tore her Achilles last year, did not compete last week. We’ll see whether or not she is back this week.

Welcome, everyone, it’s almost meet time!

Here are Cal’s tentative lineups. Interesting notes: freshman Gabby Perea is not scheduled to compete, nor is senior bar standout Emi Watterson. On the bright side, junior Abi Solari, who hasn’t competed since the first meet of her freshman season, is set to compete on both vault and floor.

Rotation 1: California vault, Air Force bars

Schank (Cal): Yurchenko full, just a hop to the side. She vaults with her mask on! 9.800

Kirkpatrick (AF): Maloney to bail to handstand, pretty good handstands, blind full with a leg separation to double tuck dismount, step back. Some built-in deductions but a much improved start to last week! 9.375

Bordas (Cal): Tucked Yurchenko full, big step forward; she can do much better. 9.700

There must be a problem with bars, Clausi goes without the AF gymnast going first.

Clausi (Cal): Yurchenko full, small hop back, no 1.5 for her. 9.800

Miller (AF): mounts to the high bar, back to the low with a bail to handstand, back up, Tkatchev, good dismount. AF is looking much better than the past two weeks on bars. 9.575

George (Cal): Yurchenko full, hop back. She can go bigger, but this was a good vault. 9.825

Bardes (AF): piked Deltchev, beautiful and rare skill but she’s off, bail to handstand, she catches with bent arms, full pirouette, she struggles, double tuck dismount, stuck.

DeSouza (Cal): Yurchenko 1.5, big step forward, but this is Cal’s first 10.0 SV vault, a bit of leg separation on the take-off. 9.775

Sand (AF): bail to handstand, flat transition to the high bar, full pirouette to double tuck dismount, labored routine. 9.325

Sadighi (Cal): last-minute replacement for Solari, Yurchenko full, a bit of soft legs in the air, small step back on landing but decent vault. 9.825

Stevenson (AF): Maloney, bail to handstand, low last handstand, full pirouette to double tuck dismount. 9.550

Solari (Cal, exh.): front handspring front pike half, a bit messy in the air and with a big step back on landing. Good for Cal to have her back but not a pretty vault.

Barber (AF): Tkatchev, blind half to bail to handstand, short, decent final handstand, full pirouette way to the side, she crashes her double tuck dismount in a rather awkward way. She laughs it off. 8.550

AFTER 1: California 49.025; Air Force 46.725

California started the meet well, considering that not everyone performed their full difficulty on vault. Air Force looked cleaner on bars than last week at Denver, but scores don’t seem to reflect that.

Rotation 2: Air Force vault, California bars

Camello (AF): Yurchenko full, hop back, very good! 9.675

DeSouza (Cal): blind half to piked Tkatchev to bail, full in dismount, ever so slightly hop back, good start for Cal on bars! 9.875

Kirkpatrick (AF): she balks but doesn’t touch the table, she should go again. Yurchenko full, low, big hop forward. 9.375

Li (Cal): we missed Li’s routine almost entirely, blind full to double tuck dismount was ok, step back. Disappointing that we didn’t get to see Li’s debut in full!!! 9.625

Bardes (AF): tucked Yurchenko full, chest down, hop back. 9.625

Green (Cal): Gienger, bail to handstand, she struggles, full-in dismount with a step forward. We’ve seen better from Cal on bars, but not bad. 9.725

Stevenson (AF): tucked Yurchenko full, big air time, she’s definitely training a Yurchenko layout. 9.750

George (Cal): Tkatchev, bail to handstand, a tad short but the other handstands are great, full-in dismount, stuck. She competes with her mask on, what a queen! 9.800

Not sure what’s up with Air Force…

Schank (Cal): piked Jaeger to bail, good form, good final handstand, double layout dismount, stuck. Excellent routine! 9.900

Bordas (Cal): a bit over on her first handstand, Jaeger to bail, full pirouette to double tuck dismount, almost stuck, another solid routine. There’s a judges conference about Bordas’ score. 9.750

It seems that Air Force is only putting up four scores on vault, not sure why. The stream is not showing anything other than the routines.

Sadighi (Cal, exh.): blind half to Jaeger to bail, double layout with legs apart, very low and she ends up crashing it. The work on the bar was a bit loose but not bad.

AFTER 2: California 98.075; Air Force 85.150

Air Force used only four gymnasts on vault, putting it straight out of the competition – in the past two weeks, the Falcons put up two Yurchenko layouts at the end of the lineup. Cal did a decent job on bars, though it lacked polish, which is probably the result of lack of training.

UPDATE: Air Force may have competed six vaults but if so, we didn’t see the final two.

Rotation 3: California beam, Air Force floor

Clausi (Cal): front toss to split jump, BHS + LOSO, cat leap to straddle leap quarter, full turn, everything looks super solid, beautiful head stand pose, side aerial to gainer full dismount, a bit soft in the knees but great start! 9.850

Brock (AF): double pike, big step back, OOB with one foot, 1.5 twist into front layout, slightly underrotated and a step forward, decent splits, Rudi to straddle jump, off balance on the jump. 9.550

DeSouza (Cal): front aerial to split jump, some soft knees, BHS + LOSO, solid, beat jump to sheep jump, head back, though she doesn’t touch her head with her feet, full turn, 1.5 twist dismount, hop forward, another solid routine! 9.850

Meyer (AF): double pike, good landing, front layout to front full, soft knees on the second element, good splits in straddle position, double tuck, very low, she puts her hands down, poor ankles… 8.900

Li (Cal): elegant mount, front aerial, slight check, BHS + LOSO, soft back knee, full turn, split jump to split ring, difficult combination, gainer tucked full, big step forward, a shame. 9.700

Stevenson (AF): front layout to front full to front layout, a bit short on her leap jump full turn, double tuck, bounces back a bit, but good routine. 9.550

Bordas (Cal): front aerial, her back foot is completely off, but she stays on somehow, BHS + LOSO, solid, switch leap to leap jump, side aerial, check, she won’t get the connection to the leap jump, gainer full on the side of the beam. Nervy routine, but she stays on! 9.475

Camello (AF): front full to front layout, low on the second element, pretty switch ring to switch leap full, double pike, short and with a step forward, double tuck, good landing. Good musicality in this routine! 9.575

George (Cal): She’s going to compete beam with her mask on, WOW! Front aerial to back tuck series, soft knees on the aerial, double wolf turn, solid, switch leap to leap jump, back leg a bit short on the first leap, gainer full on the side of the beam, another solid routine! 9.875

Stapleton (AF): double pike, good landing, back half twist to front full, another good landing, good straddle leaps, the first better than the second, double tuck, chest a bit low, but very good routine. Another expressive floor worker! 9.650

Schank (Cal): She’s also competing with her mask on! Front toss to her knees, BHS + layout to two feet, she tries to connect it to a straddle jump, but she won’t get the connection, leap jump, big break, sheep jump to beat jump, VERY slow connection, full turn, 1.5 dismount, step back. 9.550

It appears that Air Force is putting up only five routines on floor.

Apologies for the lack of scores, unfortunately the link stopped working just before the end of the second rotation.

Perea (Cal, exh.): front toss, big break, back tuck to back tuck, risky series, pretty solid, switch leap to switch leap half, slight check, full turn, side somi to full twist dismount off the side of the beam. She looks happy.

AFTER 3: California 146.900, Air Force 132.375

Both teams had a good third rotation. Except for a fall, Air Force proved to be solidifying its landings. Cal had a couple of slightly shaky routines, but the Golden Bears impressed for their calmness and consistency on beam.

Rotation 4: Air Force beam, California floor

Carswell (AF): double wolf turn, solid, BHS + LOSO, solid again, leap jump to double stag ring jump, cartwheel to gainer full off the side of the beam, big hop back, why does she always do that, such a shame! Great routine, though, she’s AF’s most natural beam worker. 9.750

DeSouza (Cal): double tuck, chest slightly forward, good straddle splits, 1.5 twist to front full, difficult and beautifully executed, Rudi, hop back before the lounge. 9.750

Brock (AF): full turn, BHS + LOSO, step forward but she saves it, cat leap to side aerial, wobble, leap jump (short) to good sheep jump, cartwheel to gainer full off the side of the beam, a tad deep on landing but she sticks it. 9.500

Quinn (Cal): front layout to Rudi, a bit of soft knees, beautiful straddle leaps, that’s how you perform them, double layout, a bit short, step forward. Fun choreography. 9.750

Stevenson (AF): front tuck somersault mount to beat jump, stunning, BHS + LOSO, a bit of flexed feet, switch leap (short) to back tuck, she’s off, piked gainer dismount, a shame for the fall. 8.950

Clausi (Cal): She’s competing floor with her mask on, Cal is really taking mask-wearing to a whole new level! Double pike, slightly overrotated, good leaps, 1.5 twist to front layout, soft knees on the second element, double tuck. Such beautiful choreography and interpretation! 9.800

Stapleton (AF): We missed the mount. BHS + LOSO, knee issues and balance check, beat jump to straddle jump quarter, straddle jump to straddle jump full turn, difficult and solid, full turn with a check, piked gainer dismount. 9.600

Schank (Cal): double tuck, double tuck, overrotated, step OOB, beautiful straddle jumps, 1.5 twist to front tuck. Another nice choreography. 9.750

Barber (AF): full twist, front aerial to back handspring series, a hesitation in-between, leap jump to leap jump three quarters, beat jump to leap jump full turn, big wobble but she stays on, BHS to gainer full off the side of the beam. 9.400

George (Cal): front double twist to front tuck, beautiful splits, Rudi, STUCK. Another impressive choreography, with fantastic musicality and interpretation! 9.750

Smith (AF): BHS + LOSO, she fights to stay on but has to give up, AF will have to count a fall; full turn, leap jump to split jump three quarters, cat leap to side aerial to full twist dismount, on her heels but she sticks it. 9.050

Judges’ conference on George’s score. Bordas was scheduled to compete but suffered a heavy fall on her full-in in the touch warm-up. She was ok, but perhaps they took her out as a precautionary measure, which would be very smart.

Camello (AF, exh.): full turn, switch leap to straddle jump three quarters, piked gainer dismount. We didn’t see the first part of the routine.

Solari (Cal): 1.5 twist to front full, solid landing and big smile, a bit off on her leap series, double tuck, almost stuck. Welcome back, Abi! She looks so happy, bless! 9.625

FINAL: California 195.75, Air Force 188.950

COVID restrictions have really affected West coast teams and this showed at Cal today. The Golden Bears, however, delivered an overall solid performance. The skills are there, the polish will come with more meets and hours of training under their belts. Air Force struggled, after going for only five routines on floor despite a fall.

Live blog by Talitha Ilacqua

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