Despite a last second line-up change in the event that’s often viewed as the most nerve-racking, the uneven bars turned out to be golden for the Aggies.
Led by their 48.450 on the bars, the Aggies were able to crack the 190-point barrier in their season debut, scoring 190.250 as they beat Cal, who had 186.650. Sac State took the victory with 191.975.
Lida Gehlen – last year’s MPSF champion on the event – and fellow junior Tanya Ho led the bar contingent, tying for second individually with scores of 9.800.
The score tied a career high for Ho, who was also the individual winner of the vault.
“I was really excited about bars and vault,” Ho said. “Bars is the hardest event for me to compete, the most nerve-racking. And vault warm up just didn’t go too well, so I basically had to depend on all my vault training for the competition.”
Experience may have led the bar squad, but the Aggies couldn’t have done it without a couple new faces.
Freshman Chantel Hibbard and senior co-captain Andi Dolinsky both tied for seventh with scores of 9.675. Not only was it the first time Dolinsky competed on bars since the 2007 season, but going into the meet, she wasn’t even planning on doing it.
“I didn’t know I would be going on bars until just minutes before we marched out to compete, so I was really, really nervous,” Dolinsky said. “It took me a little bit to realize that I was actually competing again, and that bar routine may have been the scariest routine I’ve ever had to do.”
Rounding out the scorers was senior co-captain Adee Schoffman, who competed on bars for the first time since she was in high school.
While her 9.500 was the fifth and final score for the Aggies, neither Sac State nor Cal could come up with five scores over 9.000.
“I had my second shoulder surgery in May, so I was finally able to start training bars again,” Schoffman said. “It was actually very nerve-racking to compete on bars for the first time since high school. My goal was to just fight through and stay on the bar.”
The floor turned out some more fine performances for the Aggies. They were led by freshman Jennifer Mueller, who tied for second with a score of 9.750. Right behind her was junior Kayla Koch, who turned in a career-high 9.725 to tie for fourth.
Dolinsky proved she was back with her score of 9.700, and the scorers were rounded out by freshman Erika Van Dyke (9.675) and Schoffman (9.575).
“I have a new floor routine this year that I think the crowd will enjoy,” Schoffman said. “Most of my tumbling passes are the same, but I have new choreography and new music.”
In addition to Ho’s win in the vault, junior Michelle Bobonski – last year’s co-MPSF champion – had a solid showing, scoring 9.700 for fourth. Junior Kendall McCann also managed a top-10 finish with her 9.350.
The only sub-par event for the Aggies was the balance beam, which was the one event in which the Aggies recorded falls. McCann led the squad in ninth with a 9.375, while Bobonski managed a 10th-place finish with her 9.300.
“Beam was definitely our low event since we had five falls,” Dolinsky said, “but our beam coach Teri Lavallee was still very happy with how we did and wants us to use it as a good learning experience.”
All in all, it was a fine opening for the Aggies. A win over Cal, a few career highs and a score in the 190’s means UC Davis is off to a much better start than it had last season.
“I was very happy with the team’s performance,” Schoffman said. “We were very focused today. It felt good to finally get out there and show what we’ve been working on.”
ALEX WOLF-ROOT can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.