TUCSON, Ariz. – The No. 17 Arizona Women’s gymnastics team will travel to Tempe this Saturday, Feb. 22 at 4 p.m. MST to face in-state rival No. 22 ASU with the Territorial Cup point on the line.
“We are looking forward to a meet against an in-state rival because it is always nice being close to home for a couple of weeks,” said head coach Bill Ryden. “ASU has a good gymnastics program that is looking better than it has in some time, but we need to be sure to treat it as just another meet. Being over-amped will throw us off of the equipment just as much as not being focused enough. If we do what we are capable of, we are fine. The team definitely made a step forward this weekend, and if we get a solid effort from all of our girls, I am confident in the results we may get.”
Arizona wrapped up their first quad meet of the season last Saturday in Ft. Worth, Texas at the Metroplex Challenge. The Wildcats defeated Kentucky 195.625-194.850, and finished third to No. 3 LSU (197.875) and No. 1 Oklahoma (198.175). That meet marked the return of sophomore Jessie Sisler who missed the last three meets due to injury.
Arizona is looking to end its three week road trip with a Pac-12 win before three consecutive home meets leading to the post season.
Live stats will be available the day of the competition. The 4 p.m. meeting will be shown live on the Pac-12 Networks and available for streaming online. There will also be updates on Facebook.com/ArizonaGymnastics and Twitter @AZGymnastics.
Scouting the Opposition:
The Sun Devils are 3-3 on the year, and are coming off of a win against BYU (196.200-194.525). Their team consists of 16 girls, including lone senior Samantha Seamann and four newcomers. ASU is coached by four time Pac-10 coach of the year, John Spini, who has led his team to the NCAA tournament 21 times during his 34 years as head coach. His career at ASU has made him the longest tenured head coach in school history. The last meeting between these two teams was in March of 2013 when the Wildcats beat ASU in McKaleCenter, 196.500-193.850.
2013 Arizona Review:
The Wildcats completed the 2013 season with a season record of 17-15 and advanced to their 27th consecutive NCAA Regional Championships. Finishing sixth, overall, at the Pac-12 Championships and third in the NCAA Regional Championships, Arizona rounded out the season ranked No. 17 in the nation.
Arizona was led by senior Aubree Cristello, who was the lone qualifier to the NCAA National Championships for all-around. Cristello was one of the team’s top all-around athletes, tying her career-high 39.475 three times as well as finishing her career with 2001.250 points, the second highest in program history.
Numerous freshmen stepped up despite roster injuries including Jessie Sisler and Shelby Edwards. Both freshmen received at least one Pac-12 Freshman/Newcomer of the Week award during the season. Sisler recorded a career-high 9.925, giving her one of the top program scores on floor. Edwards provided depth on beam recording scores despite an elbow injury that required her to perform an armless routine.
Look Out for New GymCats:
The Wildcats added a number of new faces this season, including two Arizona natives, Krysten Howard out of Phoenix and Selynna Felix-Terrazas from Tucson. Gabby Laub hails from Owasso, Okla., while Mackenzie Valentin comes from MustangOkla. Also added to the roster is former gymnastics manager and Plano, Texas, native Shay Fox. All of these gymnasts were top J.O. competitors and should make an immediate impact in the lineups this season.
The Arizona gymnastics team heads into the season ranked No. 17 in the 2014 Women’s Pre-Season Coaches poll. The Wildcats are one of eight Pac-12 schools to place within the top 25, including No. 4 UCLA, No. 6 Utah, No. 9 Stanford, No. 12 Oregon State, No. 20 Washington, No. 22 California and No. 25 Arizona State.
Complete pre-season rankings can be found here:http://www.troester.com/gym/Wrankings/2014/WcoachesPoll.htm
Stacked to the Max:
The Arizona gymnastics team is going to compete against one of the toughest schedules in the nation. According to RoadtoNationals.com, Arizona’s strength of schedule is ranked No. 8. Of the 12 regular season meets and 16 regular season opponents, the Cats will face eight ranked teams. Those opponents include No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 4 UCLA, No. 5 LSU, No. 6 Utah, No. 9 Stanford, No. 12 Oregon State, No. 20 Washington, No. 21 Kentucky and No. 25 ASU.
Head coach Bill Ryden finished out the 2013 season with an overall even record of 220-198-3.
What’s Coming Up:
The Wildcats will return to McKale Center for a three-week home stand. Arizona will first take on Pac-12 foe UCLA on Saturday, March 1 at 4 p.m. MST. Live streaming and stats will be available.