Hornbeek honored as top senior gymnast in the nation
TUCSON, Ariz. Arizona senior Heidi Hornbeek was named the winner of the AAI American Award, honoring the top senior gymnast in the nation for excellence in academics and athletics. The American Award, sponsored by American Athletic Incorporated, is voted on by gymnastics coaches throughout the nation, and Hornbeek's honor marks the first time an Arizona gymnast has won the award.
"This honor is extremely significant for Heidi (Hornbeek) and our program," said Arizona head coach Bill Ryden. "She is the epitome of the ultimate student-athlete. She has gone above and beyond the call of duty in athletics and academics for the last five years, and I am proud to have coached the most-highly decorated gymnast in Arizona history."
Hornbeek posted 32 top-five finishes and won nine event titles during her final season, and she holds Arizona's top individual season scores on vault (9.950) and bars (9.925). She competed in the all-around in seven out of the last eight meets and scored over the 39.000 mark in six of the competitions. Hornbeek, a six-time All-America and seven-time All-Pac-10 selection, was restricted to the uneven bars for the first four weeks of the season due to a nagging ankle injury. She was named to both the Pacific-10 Conference's All-Academic (first) team (2000, 1999, 1997) and the GTE Academic All-District VIII team (2000, 1999, 1997), receiving both accolades for the third time in her Wildcat career.
Hornbeek, a 5-2 fifth-year senior from Glendale, Ariz., has earned a permanent place in the Arizona record books. Her career-high marks of 39.700 in the all-around, a 10.000 on vault, a 9.950 on beam and a 10.000 on floor are the top individual event scores in Arizona history, while her career-high 9.950 on bars ranks as the third-best UA gymnastics score.
Also, in other gymnastics news, sophomore Randi Liljenquist earned second-team All-America honors at the NCAA Championships last weekend for her performance in the all-around. Liljenquist tied for 18th overall in the all-around finals April 13 with a score of 39.075. Liljenquist, who entered the finals as the No. 4 at-large seed in the all-around, made her first trip to the national championships and was the only Arizona gymnast to qualify for NCAAs.
Liljenquist, a 5-2 sophomore from Tucson, Ariz., tied for 26th on both vault (9.750) and bars (9.725), and she tied for 13th in the beam (9.775) and floor (9.825) events at the NCAA Championships. Liljenquist's all-around score of 39.075 ties her seventh-best all-around score this season. She competed in the all-around in every meet this year, and she scored over the 39.000 mark in 10 out of 14 competitions.
"Randi (Liljenquist) did a really good job at NCAAs, and she just had a fantastic year," said Arizona head coach Bill Ryden. "Her performance in the NCAA meet is just another example of what she has done all year. She was incredibly consistent every week of competition, and she went out on the floor at the national championships and gave it her best shot. Randi had a phenomenal sophomore season, and she represented the program extremely well."
Liljenquist, a two-time All-Pac-10 selection, earned all-conference honors for the first time in her career as a result of her performances on beam and in the all-around this season. She posted 40 top-five finishes and won 17 first-place titles, including six career all-around titles, in only her first season as an all-around competitor. Liljenquist holds Arizona's top individual scores for the year on bars (9.925), beam (9.925), floor (10.000) and in the all-around (39.525). She became only the fifth gymnast in school history to score a perfect 10.000 following her career-high floor performance March 3 in the Michigan meet.
After only two years in the program, Liljenquist's career-high marks in all four events and in the all-around have earned her a place in the Arizona record books. Her career-high 39.525 in the all-around tied the No. 2 score in school history, and her career-high 10.000 on floor tied senior Heidi Hornbeek for the school record in the event. Liljenquist's career-high 9.925 on beam placed her in a tie for the third-best beam score, her career-high 9.925 on bars tied the fifth-highest Arizona score, and her career-high 9.850 on vault has moved her into a tie for the eighth-best Wildcat vault score.