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GYMNASTICS OPENS 2017 SEASON AT NORCAL CLASSIC ON MONDAY

GYMNASTICS OPENS 2017 SEASON AT NORCAL CLASSIC ON MONDAY

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OPENING PASS

The Sacramento State gymnastics team will makes its 2017 debut at the NorCal Classic on Monday, Jan. 9 at Haas Pavilion on the campus of UC Berkeley. Along with Cal and the Hornets, the meet will also include Stanford, San Jose State and UC Davis. The meet will begin at 7 p.m.

Live stats for the meet can be found at CalBears.com. There will not be a video stream.

This year marks the sixth annual NorCal Classic and the first time it has returned to a campus site. Last season, Sacramento State placed third with a score of 194.325 at San Jose State. The team had five top five finishers at the meet, including Lauren Rice who placed second in the all-around and tied for second on floor.

Head coach Randy Solorio was officially handed the title during the offseason. After 30 seasons as an assistant coach, Solorio served as the interim head coach last season and guided the team to the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation title. Sacramento State also produced its two best scores in school history in 2016.

OPPONENT PREVIEWS
Cal is ranked 10th in the Road to Nationals preseason poll. The Golden Bears return every competitive routine from last season's team which advanced to the NCAA Championships for the first time in 24 years. All-American and 2016 Olympian Toni-Ann Williams headlines a deep roster for Cal. Head coach Justin Powell and assistant Liz Crandall-Howell were named national coaches of the year in 2016.

Stanford was picked 11th in the national preseason poll but was third in the Pac-12 preseason poll — one spot ahead of Cal. The Cardinal also appeared at the NCAA Championships a year ago, marking its 13th trip in the last 16 years. Among the team's returners are All-Americans Elizabeth Price and Nicolette McNair.

San Jose State finished third at the 2016 MPSF Championships. The Spartans top returning all-arounder is senior Rachel Heinl who earned second team all-MPSF honors a year ago. The NorCal Classic is the first of five meetings between the Hornets and Spartans during the season.

UC Davis placed second at the MPSF Championships last spring. The Aggies are led by senior Katy Nogaki and junior Alexis Brown who each qualified for the NCAA Regionals  in 2016. Brown was also the MPSF individual champion on bars.

THE LATEST ACTION
The final team competition for Sacramento State came on its home floor as the Hornets claimed the 2016 MPSF championship. Sacramento State totaled 196.300 to record the second highest score in school history and win the conference title for the fifth time in the its last eight attempts.

Kalliah McCartney broke her own school all-around record and tied for the second highest in MPSF history. McCartney totaled 39.450 in the four events after scoring 9.900 on vault and floor, 9.850 on beam and 9.800 on bars. Those score helped the Vancouver, Wash., native finish first on vault, tie for first on beam, and tie for second on bars and floor.

LOOK WHO'S BACK
Sacramento State returns 15 of its 24 routines from last season's championship team. Over half of the returning routines come from senior Julia Konner and junior Lauren Rice who both competed as all-arounders and were NCAA Regional qualifiers.

After competing on vault, beam and floor in the first eight meets of the season, Konner returned to the all-around for the final meets. She ended the year with back-to-back scores of at least 39 points, including a 39.100 at the MPSF Championships where she placed fourth. Konner also tied for second on floor after scoring a career high 9.900. The Bethesda, Md., native advanced to the NCAA postseason for the second time in three years. Most recently, she competed on vault where she tied for 12th place with a 9.825. She also earned first team all-MPSF honors in the event.

Rice qualified for the NCAA Regional in the all-around and was also a first team all-MPSF choice in the all-around as well as on bars and floor. She was also a second team selection on beam. During the year, she competed in the all-around in nine of the team's 11 regular season meets and had six scores of at least 39.000. She set her career best of 39.325 at the MSPF Championships where she placed second and moved into a tie for ninth in school history. Rice also tied for first on beam, was second on vault and tied for fifth on floor. The Henderson, Nev., native had surgery during the fall and will be limited to bars and beam during the early part of the season.

SEEING DOUBLE
Twins Caitlin and Courtney Soliwoda start 2017 healthy after an injury plagued 2016 campaign. Caitlin competed in eight meets for the Hornets, including three where she was in the lineup on vault, bars and beam. She set the school record with a 9.950 on bars against San Jose State at the end of the year. Courtney was in four meets after recovering from a knee injury. Both are expected to play a larger role and could contend for all-around spots.

JUMPING RIGHT IN
Freshman Tara Catour wasted no time earning a spot in the Hornet lineup. The Phoenix, Ariz., native is slated to compete on vault, beam and floor during her first collegiate meet. Catour trained at Desert Lights Gymnastics in Arizona where she was a four-time Region 1 Level 10 qualifier and two-time state champion on floor.

Catour's family is well-adjusted to college gymnastics as her sister, Stefani, is a junior at Oklahoma and part of the Sooners' national championship team.

JUST THE FACTS
Sacramento State will begin the NorCal Classic on bars…the meet will have a bye after vault…the Hornets will have four gymnasts competing in at least three events and eight who are scheduled to compete in at least two events…the team's highest score at the NorCal Classic is 194.400 from 2014.