NORMAN, Okla. — In the early 1990s, a group from Staten Island, New York burst brought the ruckus to the hip hop scene. The Wu-Tang Clan was known for its toughness, grit and forceful presence.
Kevin Wolting wasn’t even born when when Wu-Tang produced their first record. However, the California junior has inherited the nickname “Wu-Tang” and has seemingly taken on the same mentality to become one of the top performers at the NCAA Mens Gymnastics Championships this week.
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“It’s a direct reflection of his work ethic,” California coach Brett McClure said. “He’s giving it 110 percent on a daily basis. The results are just now starting to show up this year. He’s got a bright future and this is really just the beginning of his career.”
Wolting and the Golden Bears were part of the first session that competed in the preliminary round of the NCAA championships on Thursday at the University of Oklahoma. They posted a score of 433.700 to advance to Friday’s finale along with Stanford (435.850) and Penn State (432.900). It’s the first time Cal has made to the second day since 2012.
“I always knew we were capable of it,” Wolting said. “I knew we would get to this point. In my first two years we hadn’t qualified for the second day. This has been like a dream of mine since my freshman year. I’m so happy that words can’t even describe. ”
Wolting also took top all-around honors with a score of 88.550. He edged out teammates Kyle Zemier and Ryan Patterson for the opening session lead.
“He came out today and hit six for six on the all around,” McClure said. “He really led this team down to the finish line to qualify in the team final. It’s really awesome.”
Wolting’s success at the NCAA level has only been part of his breakthrough story this year. In February he placed sixth at the 2015 Winter Cup Challenge to earn a spot on the United States Senior National Team.
— Brett McClure
Wolting finished the competition — which took place across a span of two days — with a combined all-around score of 171.900. He finished Day 1 with an overall score of 85.550, which earned him an eighth-place finish in the preliminaries.
“It’s all about the work and nothing about the talk,” McLure said. “He doesn’t say a word in the gym. He just shows what you’re supposed to do through what he is doing putting forth in his effort, which is really awesome.”
When Wolting first arrived in Berkley three years ago, the Laguna Mission, California native was a walk-on just looking to earn a spot in the rotation. Now he is on the verge of capturing the prestigious all-around championship.
“Was not really expecting it,” Wolting said. “It kind of just happened this year a little bit. I’ve worked hard. So I’m happy that my work is paying off. Hard work and being healthy. I’ve had some injuries as a freshman and sophomore.”
With two more days of competition ahead of him, Wolting is looking to cap off this impressive junior campaign with some NCAA hardware.
“First, I want our team to place,” Wolting said. “Individually, I just want to do was good as I can and place. Top 3 all-around would be nice. Maybe some event titles.”
Wolting said his rise up the charts is all about the decision he made coming out of high school.
“Just always having my team behind me is key,” Wolting said. “Just believing in my choice to go to Cal. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I was looking at a few other schools. But in the end I chose Cal and have never been happier. I’m really happy with how I did. Really proud of my team. We killed it and [we’re] ready for Day 2.”