For some athletes, each and every season is a testament to the hard work put into their sport. For Arizona Gymnastics, senior Shana Sangston has come a long way since she first stepped foot on the University of Arizona campus in 2010.
“Shana has become a completely different athlete from the time she stepped foot into the gym,” former gymnast and current assistant coach Randi Acosta said. “She has blossomed over the years on every event. Everybody sees what she has become.”
Sangston began her career at Arizona focusing on vault and beam. Entering her second season, she was introduced to floor and competed six times in that event. It was this past season that Sangston was introduced to the bars lineup.
“Bars was nonexistent for Shana when she came into the program,” head coach Bill Ryden said. “The fact that she competed bars for us on more than one occasion last year is amazing. She has really improved as far as scoring punch and ability on floor and vault. She’s becoming a mainstay on floor because of her perfectionism.”
In the 2013 season, Sangston went from solely competing in vault and beam to intermixing her skills in the lineup in all four events. The majority of her time was spent on vault, bars and floor. Sangston also posted career highs this past season in each of the respective events.
“I’ve improved the most on my overall readiness and mental preparedness,” Sangston said. “The lineup doesn’t always go as planned so whenever they need me to go in at the last second, I’m better at jumping in wherever I’m needed.”
Realizing the 2014 season will be her last Sangston hopes to contribute in more than one way.
“I definitely want to compete in all of the events at some point in the season,” Sangston said. “Contributing to the team, I really want to lead by example for the younger gymnasts.”
Sangston’s ability to contribute to her team does not end with her scoring ability. As one of four seniors, Sangston has the experience and motivation to lead the young team.
“She will take this team by the hand with her drive and motivation,” Acosta said. “She’s already eager and has begun to bring the team together. I think she’s going to do a fabulous job as a senior leader.”
The improvements that Sangston have made come from her dedication to the program.
“She’s grown so much in maturity, leadership and being the go-to person as far as team information,” Ryden said. “She has had to work for everything since she came into the program. She has worked very hard and is goal-oriented. She has put in as much time this summer as anyone has. That’s a tribute to her wanting to be the best she can be, and that translates to everybody else.”
In preparation for her final season, Sangston has been in the gym working on all four of the events.
“I’ve been in Tucson continuing my training,” Sangston said. “I’ve been fixing some of my techniques while learning more skills. I’m trying to be prepared ahead of time.”
With six months until the mark of the season, Sangston will try to enjoy every last minute she has with the Arizona gymnastics program.
“I’m looking forward to enjoying my last season with the team and having everyone together in one unit,” Sangston said. “Being an Arizona gymnast means being a part of something bigger, something more like a family.”