Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Cat Scratches Gymnastics Newsletter - March 2006
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: April 12, 2006
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Dear Friends, Alumni & Boosters,


March 3
Our first meet of the final month of the regular season would be a doozy against Florida and BYU.  Florida is a very strong, highly ranked team and BYU is always in the hunt every year to qualify to the NCAA Championship Finals in April.  As usual, it doesn’t get any easier but there was no doubt that we would have a good barometer of our improvement. 


The entire vaulting team (all of the team member that train vault) had had a good week of practice and once again I was ready to tweak the line-up to try and get more information as we get closer to the post-season.  Therefore the line-up for our first event was a new one: Rachelle, Alexis, Aubrey, Jamie, Bree, and Karin.  Rachelle hit one of her best of the season and a 9.825 to start us off with a bang.  Alexis followed her with a 9.8.  For the second time this year, Aubrey debuted a brand new vault.  Going from first learning a Yurchenko to competing a layout with a full twist in less than seven months is pretty impressive (sounds like something Katie Johnson might do!).  Aubrey did land her vault but was very cautious and took quite a few steps.  She received a 9.425 but the future looks hopeful for the vault and a much higher score.  Up next was Jamie and she rocked the thing.  She stuck it cold and the team jumped with excitement even before the 9.925 appeared.  Bree then hit a very vault herself for a 9.875.  Karin finished our rotation with a 9.8.  Our event score was a season best 49.225.  It was pretty explainable when you think that for the first time, each of the scores that counted were vaults that lived up to potential.  It was the first time we had five of them hit at the same time rather that two or three.

We rotated to bars and for the first time all year, I switched the line-up.  Sarah P. had injured her shoulder a few weeks back and we were forced to alter her routine to one with a new dismount, one she had never competed before.  I wanted to take the pressure off of her and it didn’t hurt that Suzanne has been getting better each week.  The line-up would be: Beamer, Suzanne, Alexis, Danielle, Karin, and Aubrey with Sarah in exhibition.  We had another change to the bar rotation as Beamer had an uncharacteristic fall on her routine.  She scored a 9.075 and the pressure was on.  Suzanne didn’t seem to be fazed at all as she hit her set for a 9.7 and got the team back on track.  Alexis followed and although she had to improvise a little, she scored well receiving a 9.8 from the judges.  Danielle then continued the steady climb with quality bar-work and a 9.825.  Karin then scored a 9.85 followed by a 9.9 from Aubrey.  Sarah came up seventh and performed her new routine for the first time.  It was a very good routine but a fall on the new dismount gave her a score of 9.225.  We had survived the scare of counting a fall by five athletes really coming through when the team needed them.  Our event score was a 49.075 and our running meet score was a 98.3.  We were up by .2 at the turn over the #2 team in the country.  Pretty good.

We rotated to beam and the line-up remained unchanged: Jamie, Erin, Karin, Aubrey, Beamer, and Danielle with Sarah exhibition.  Unfortunately we had the same start as bars as Jamie fell on her acro-series and scored a 9.25.  The pressure was back on.  Erin came up big as she rose above it and scored a 9.675 to start us on our way back.  Karin then scored and hit a nice set for a 9.725 even with a mishap on the dismount.  Aubrey fought off a big balance check and stayed on for a second 9.725.  Beamer was really focused after her bar miscue and hit a very nice routine for a 9.825.  Danielle then secured the no-fall with an excellent 9.85.  Sarah also was focused from her bar error and came back to hit her beam routine and score a 9.625.  Our event score was a 48.8 but more importantly we had fought back again from a very difficult situation.  Our running meet score was a 147.1 and were rotated to our last event.

Our floor line-up was also unchanged (Jamie, Erin, Alexis, Danielle, Karin, Aubrey) but with Rachelle performing exhibition this meet.  Jamie came back from her beam mishap with a good routine to start us off and a 9.775.  Erin did a great job up second with a 9.8.  Alexis then hit her set for a 9.75.  Danielle stepped up next for her third 9.8+ routine of the meet and a 9.85 from the judges.  Karin also wanted to finish off a successful evening and hit her fourth event for a 9.875.  Aubrey then capped off our competitive line-up with her second 9.9 of the meet.  Rachelle ended our night with a hit and a 9.675.  Our event score was a 49.2 and we had finally broken the 196 barrier with a 196.3 team score.

Even though the final scores for the meet were: Florida-196.625, Arizona-196.3, BYU-194.575 there were definitely more positives than negatives to be garnered from the competition. Being able to challenge one of the best teams in the country while fighting off early falls on two events was huge.  I am very proud of the way the team fought and continues to fight regardless, week after week.  We are still improving and from this meet alone, the coaches have a number of areas that need immediate attention.  We will continue to work hard and see what happens.


March 10
Our last home meet of the season was a quad competition versus Denver, Southeast Missouri, and Cal State Fullerton.  It was also our senior meet to honor our two seniors, Erin Muirhead and Jessamyn Salter.  Here are the tributes read at the meet:


Erin Muirhead came across the country to The University of Arizona from South River, NJ where she was a member of the Jersey Jets Gymnastics Club.  Erin is the Team Captain and leader of the 2006 edition of the GymCats.  During her four years here in the desert, Erin has given everything she could for the success of the program.  Erin is known for the power in her legs and it was natural that the leg events would be where she would make her mark on the program.  As a freshman, she was a starting member of the vault team.  During her sophomore year, she backed up the floor team while still being a main contributor on vault.  Unfortunately an injury ended her Junior year after 5 meets where she was a member of the vault team while backing up both floor and beam.  In this her final season, Erin has been a constant competitor on both beam and floor.  Her career high scores are 9.85 on vault, 9.75 on beam, and 9.825 on floor.  Besides her contributions in the gym, Erin is the team representative to the Student-Athlete-Advisory-Board and is very active in community service around the Tucson area.  Erin plans to graduate this May with a degree in Physiological Sciences.  She plans to go on to graduate school to study Forensic sciences.  The team will surely miss Erin for her leadership and work ethic, both in and out of the gym.  The coaches would like to thank her for commitment and dedication to the program for the past 4 years. 


Jessamyn Salter came to the warmth of the desert from the chill of Bloomington, IN where she competed for Wright’s Gymnastics.  Jessamyn was a very dynamic gymnast and immediately made an impact on vault and floor, where she competed as a freshman.  During her sophomore year, Jessamyn added bars to her competitive resume and made a solid contribution on all three events.  At the beginning of her Junior year, injuries that she had been battling since before her time in Arizona caused an early retirement from her sport.  Her commitment to the team was never stronger as she immediately transitioned into the role of an Undergraduate assistant.  She has held this position for the past two years and has developed into an excellent coach.  In fact, after graduation this May with a degree in Health Education, she will become the new Head Coach for a local club.  Beyond that, she plans to attend the Nursing school here at the University of Arizona.  Before for competitive career was cut short, she was able to post high scores of 9.75 on vault, 9.825 on bars, and 9.875 on floor.  The team members and especially the coaches would like to thank Jessamyn for her commitment to the program and willingness to go the extra mile.


The only development in the week prior to the competition was that Sarah P.  suffered an injury that we hope will heal quickly.  Unfortunately it would keep her out of any gymnastics for the evening. 

Our first event was vault and I decided to keep the line-up as it was the week prior:  Rachelle, Alexis, Aubrey, Jamie, Bree, and Karin.  Rachelle got the team off to a solid start with a 9.725.  Alexis followed her with an identical 9.725.  Aubrey then executed her new vault for the second time in competition and improved on her score from last week with a 9.7.  Jamie then hit a great vault and received a 9.825 from the judges.  Bree then built on that and hit a 9.875 effort.  Karin finished the rotation with a nice 9.775.  Our event score was a 48.925 and we were off to a pretty good start.

We rotated to bars and Sarah’s injury pretty much assured no changes in the line-up from last week: Beamer, Suzanne, Alexis, Danielle, Karin, and Aubrey.  Beamer led off and had a good routine going until she sustained an injury during her second release move.  She kept going but the injury had a caused a major break and her score was a 9.4.  Suzanne hit her routine next but with a couple of deductions that kept her score at a 9.625.  Alexis followed and hit a very nice routine for a 9.8.  Danielle was up fourth and although hit a pretty nice routine, a couple of breaks kept her score at a 9.675.  Karin then had one of worst routines of her collegiate career.  She somehow stayed on, but with multiple breaks, her score was a 9.45.  Aubrey wasn’t fazed though and hit her usual excellent routine for a 9.875.  Our event score was a 48.425 and in all honesty, it was a sub par effort on our part.  Our running meet score was a 97.35 and although we had a .875 lead at the turn, the outcome of the meet was far from decided. 

We rotated to beam and once again had the same line-up as before:  Jamie, Erin, Karin, Aubrey, Beamer, and Danielle.  Jamie had a pretty good set going but a major break gave her a score of 9.525.  Erin was up next for her first routine of her last home meet.  She hit a very nice set and received a 9.725 from the judges.  Karin was up next but had a few minor balance checks and missed connections for a 9.625.  Aubrey followed and hit her routine for a 9.75.  Beamer unfortunately had a fall on her routine and scored a 9.1.  Danielle finished our rotation with a shaky routine and a 9.525.  Our event score was a 48.15, a pretty weak effort.  It was our second less-than-acceptable event in a row and I was not very happy.  Our running score was 145.5 and our lead had now turned into a .05 deficit.  We had a quick and to-the-point team meeting out of the arena about our situation and prepared to march to our last event.  The team we trailed, Denver, is a very good vault team: their last event.  We put ourselves in this situation. 

By now, you can guess that I did not change the line-up from the usual: Jamie, Erin, Alexis, Danielle, Karin, and Aubrey.  This line-up is very good, had been good most of the year and I was hoping they would be better than our first three events.  Jamie came back after a rough beam routine for a very “not” rough floor routine that gave us a big 9.825 out of the box.  The team was much more its “normal, very vocal” self.  Erin finished off “her” night with her second hit routine and our second 9.825.  Alexis was up to the momentum as she received a 9.875 for her set.  Danielle also came back strong from beam to hit her routine and receive a 9.825 from the judges.  Karin followed suit as she had a great routine that scored a 9.875.  Aubrey finished our event and our competition with a sixth hit set and a 9.825.  I was proud of the character displayed by the floor team.  We were average up until this point but gave our loyal fans a lasting memory of the real Arizona.  Our event score was a 49.225 and our final score was a 194.725. 

I hadn’t been watching the competition at all during the meet, just occasionally getting updates from the overhead scoreboard.  As it turned out, we had won the 4th event dual in the desert to win the meet.  The final scores were: Arizona ?- 194.725, Denver ?- 194.3, Fullerton ?- 193.00, SEMO ?- 190.5.  Aubrey won the AA with Karin 3rd.  Bree won vault, Aubrey won bars, and Alexis & Karin tied for first on floor.  This score will not help us but the victory is a nice consolation prize.  We have a week to regroup and get ready to put four events together in Texas.


March 18
Our first away meet in four weeks had the team taking a quick flight to Dallas and a short drive to Denton where we were scheduled to meet Texas Woman’s University along with BYU.  TWU runs a great meet and the fans are very receptive.  It was nice to have a pretty easy time with travel; I was just hoping we would have a similarly easy time making our routines. 

With the three team format, our competition order would be Bars-Beam-Floor-Vault.  Our bar line-up remained unchanged: Beamer, Suzanne, Alexis, Danielle, Karin, and Aubrey.  The meet didn’t quite have the start I had hoped for when Beamer went over the bar on a cast handstand.  The fall gave us a first score of 9.15 and immediately the pressure was on and the meet was 30 seconds old.  Suzanne seems to be immune to most things and she smiled and went up and hit her routine to bring us back.  She received a 9.75 for her routine.  Alexis was up next and even though she tends to “freelance” and show a different routine each week, I had seen this version before.  It still wasn’t the routine I wanted her to do but you have to give her credit for refusing to come off.  Her score was a 9.725.  Danielle followed and hit her set for a 9.75.  Karin was up fifth and she too had one of those routines that seemed close to disaster on occasion but she fought through and scored a 9.8.  Aubrey seemed to one-up Karin as her ENTIRE routine seemed on the verge of disaster.  Like the four athletes before her, she refused to miss her routine and scored a 9.85.  We had swung a little tight and I lost a few more hairs for an event score of 48.875.  A little lower than what I think we are capable of but under the circumstances, we’ll take it.

We rotated to beam and for this meet Rachelle would perform exhibition behind the usual line-up (Jamie, Erin, Karin, Aubrey, Beamer, Danielle).  Jamie started us off great with a hit set and a 9.8.  Erin unfortunately had a fall on her acro series and received a 9.2 from the judges.  We were under the pressure again.  Karin stepped up and hit her set to quickly get back on the right track and scored a 9.8.  Aubrey followed with her best beam set of the season and a 9.9.  Beamer bounced back from her bar miscue and hit a very good routine for a 9.8.  Danielle then finished our official line-up with a hit set to avoid counting a fall and a received a 9.825.  Rachelle then saluted for her beam routine.  The lack of experience in front of judges was a little bit evident as her nerves caused a few mistakes, but she gave it a great try.  Her score was a 9.25.  Even with a missed routine our event score was a 49.125, a very good score.  We had survived the two “fall” events without counting a fall and our running team score was a 98.0.  We had a .925 lead at the turn and we were excited to get to the two tumbling events.

Our floor line-up again was unchanged from the prior competition (Jamie, Erin, Alexis, Danielle, Karin, and Aubrey) but for this meet, Melanie would perform exhibition.  Jamie started us off with a good routine even though she had a step out-of-bounds on her middle pass.  She received a 9.65 for her work.  Erin was up second and was determined to hit after her beam fall.  She had a great routine and scored a 9.85.  Alexis followed her up with a great routine of her own and an identical 9.85.  Danielle made it a trifecta as she hit her set for our third 9.85 in a row.  Someone had to break the trend and Karin did it as she hit her set and received a 9.9.  Aubrey came up sixth and had a pretty good routine but a couple of landing errors kept her score at a 9.775.  Melanie had sprained her ankle earlier in the week but was intent on sucking it up and giving it her best.  Unfortunately a couple of falls kept her from hitting the routine she wanted.  Her score was a 7.95.  We earned an excellent 49.225 and our running team score was a 147.225.  With a lot of energy, we marched to our last event; we just wanted to bring this one home.

Aubrey had injured her hand earlier in the week and despite everyone’s best effort, vault was just too much for it after all of the other events.  Our vault line-up for this meet would be: Rachelle, Danielle, Alexis, Karin, Jamie, and Bree with Erica performing exhibition.  Rachelle started us off right with a very nice vault and a 9.825.  Danielle matched Rachelle with her own excellent vault and a 9.825.  Alexis stepped up third and hit a great vault for a 9.85.  Karin adapted well to the middle of the line-up with her best vault of the season and a 9.9.  Jamie was almost able to match her as she received a 9.875 for her vault.  Bree was able to match Karin for her own personal record and another 9.9 for the team.  Erica then stepped up for her collegiate debut and did a really nice job on her vault.  Her score was a 9.75 and our evening was complete.  Our event score was a 49.35 and our final team score was a season best, 196.575. 

It was very satisfying to get back on track after our less than perfect effort last week.  The final scores for the meet were: Arizona ?- 196.575, BYU ?- 193.725, TWU ?- 191.425.  We accomplished many goals that we had set for the evening.  It was also nice to win every event (Karin/Bree ?- V, Aubrey ?- UB&BB, Karin ?- FX&AA).  This was a great way to finish out the regular season format of competing.  And it was also a nice surprise that Karin was named Pac-10 Gymnast-of-the-Week for her work.  From now on, we will be in a tournament format with bye events and six or seven teams starting with Pac-10’s.  The post-season is looming; one more meet to find out where we will be competing in the NCAA Regionals.


March 25
Our final regular season meet of 2006 was no regular meet at all; it was the Pac-10 Conference Championship.  This year’s Championship meet was being host by Oregon St. in Corvallis.  We had had a pretty good competition there earlier in the season and we hoped for a repeat.  We went into the meet ranked 4th in the conference but in this meet, anything can happen.  We hoped that we could increase on that ranking with the final results.

The competitive draw is random and our draw this year was certainly one that would challenge us.  We would begin on bars, followed by beam, bye floor, bye, vault, and end on a bye.  Our bar line-up was unchanged (Beamer, Suzanne, Alexis, Danielle, Karin, and Aubrey) for this meet.  Beamer started us off and to her relief hit her first bar routine in almost a month in competition.  Her score was a 9.6.  Suzanne followed her and hit a pretty good set I thought for an identical 9.6.  Alexis came up third and hit a pretty good routine although she did hit the low bar while tapping for her dismount.  She was able to land without too much deduction but received a 9.625 from the judges.  Danielle came up fourth and received our third 9.6 of the rotation.  Karin finally broke out of the sixes for an excellent routine that received a 9.7.  Aubrey finished up our rotation up with a virtually flawless routine (this isn’t me talking, remember we are required to video everything so we have proof) that scored a 9.775.  It was by far the tightest scoring we had seen this season but it was a championship meet and the first rotations are historically scored lower.  I was happy that we had gone six-for-six; it was a great way to start.  Our event score was a 48.3 and we rotated to beam.

Our beam line-up was also unchanged: Jamie, Erin, Karin, Aubrey, Beamer, and Danielle.  Jamie did a great job continuing our momentum with a hit routine and a 9.825.  Unfortunately that momentum came to a screeching halt as Erin had rough time with her routine and scored a 9.0.  Karin didn’t let it get to her as she picked it up again and matched Jamie’s 9.825.  Aubrey had a great routine going but had a balance check on a new skill and received a 9.65.  Beamer unfortunately couldn’t keep the roll going as she fell on her acro series.  Her score was a 9.3.  Danielle finished the event with a very nice, hit routine to leave the team with positive vibe.  Her score was our third 9.825.  We had a really great rotation going, which we needed after bars, but counting a fall took away the impact.  Our event score was a 48.425 and our running score was a 96.725.  Believe it or not, we were actually holding in there, but just barely.  We knew we couldn’t have any more routines that were less than our capabilities if we were gong to be successful.  We focused on this as we rotated to our first bye.

After the bye, we rotated to floor with our usual line-up: Jamie, Erin, Alexis, Danielle, Karin, and Aubrey.  Jamie once again had a great lead-off routine and scored a 9.75.  Erin followed but had some difficulties landing her passes cleanly and received a 9.525.  Alexis didn’t fare much better with her landings and her score was a 9.625.  Things seemed to be steamrolling as Danielle also had a rough time and scored a 9.55.  Finally Karin broke through the trend and hit a good routine for a 9.775.  Unfortunately, Aubrey wasn’t immune to the problems of her teammates as she fell on one of her passes.  She received a 9.125 for our last routine.  It was pretty much the exact way you don’t want a rotation to go.  We are a good floor team but on this night, you really wouldn’t know it.  Our event score was a 48.225 and our running team score was a 144.95.  At this time, there was nothing left to do but gather ourselves and try and salvage as many points as possible.  We rotated to our second bye and readied ourselves for vault.

Our intended line-up was: Rachelle, Alexis, Aubrey, Karin, Jamie, and Bree.  Alexis sustained an injury during the one-touch warm-up and I quickly had to insert Danielle in the second spot.  Rachelle started us off well with a 9.725.  Danielle really stepped up for the team and scored a 9.7 with hardly any time to warm-up or mentally prepare.  Aubrey then recovered from her problems on floor to hit a good vault and match Rachelle’s 9.725.  Karin was up next and received a 9.8 for a very good vault.  Jamie then hit our highest score so far with a 9.85.  It was really looking good for Bree but she fell on her vault but still scored a 9.4 ?- oh, what could have been.  It was a just another example of the night the team was having.  Our event score was a 48.8 and our final team score was a disappointing 193.75.

We finished in 5th in the competition, far below what we were hoping for or capable of.  The final standings were: Stanford, UCLA, Oregon St., ASU, Arizona, Washington, Cal.  Even with that result, our final national ranking remained at 15.  On the following Monday, we found out that officially, the team qualified for the post-season for the 20th straight year.  We are the number 3 seed at the North Central Regional to be held in Ames, IA.  The teams competing are: Iowa St., ASU, Arizona, Denver, Minnesota, and BYU.  It will be a very good competition and one that we are very excited for.  We will learn what we can from the Pac-10 meet and head into the post-season with a renewed determination.


Alumni Sightings 
We had our usual big turnout for our meet against Florida & BYU.  These are the ones that I can recall seeing in the stands: Monica Bisordi, Jamie Schell, Katie Johnson, Jamie Duce, Mary Reiss, Kara Fry, Amanda Goins, Andi McCabe, Sheehan Lemley, Aimee Estella, Gina Martin.  I apologize if I miss people occasionally.  These are just the ones I recall during a very busy evening.  Here is an interesting fact: Since her arrival on campus in the fall of ’96, Kara Fry has not missed a home meet.  Of course this includes her competition career from 1997 to 2000 and then every meet we have had at McKale since.  She has also been at most of the meets up at ASU.  Especially memorable was her leading the entire U of A section in very raucous cheers with her pom-pom during the 2002 Regional Championship at ASU.  We defeated the home team to advance to the NCAA Championships.  Yes, if I had one ?- I would give her an award.  Alumni that I noticed at the Senior meet: Monica Bisordi, Katie Johnson, Jamie Duce, Jamie Schell, Stevie Fanning, Kara Fry, Meagan Killpack, Amanda Goins, Lisha Stone.  Becky (Bowers) Greene sent some new photos of her son.  Gabby (Zermoglio) Stigall sent some recent photos of a family vacation.  Diane (Monty) Bell and her daughter Casey drove up from the Houston area to root the team on at the Texas Woman’s meet.  Kristine Harper also made the trip up to the TWU meet; her cheering from the stands brought back memories of her time on the team.  Meagan Killpack was in Dallas visiting and made time to attend the meet and cheer on the team. 


Honors & Awards 
Additions to the three Gymnast-of-the-Week awards have started to roll in.  I hope there are many to come.


      Academic All-Conference     Karin Wurm (1st Team)

      Academic All-Conference     Danielle Hicks (Honorable Mention)

      Academic All-Conference     Rachelle Silberg (Honorable Mention)

      Academic All-Conference     Aubrey Taylor (Honorable Mention)

Team Banquet
Our annual team banquet will be held at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 6th.  If you would like to attend, the cost is $20 a person.  If you would like to attend, just let us know at the office.  Checks can be made out to “University of Arizona/Gymcats”.  Hope to see you there.


 I want to thank all of the boosters and supporters who have helped out both with donations and support of the team.  We had a great home season, 7-1, and the team really appreciates all the support along the way.  We averaged almost 1000 fans per home meet and next year we want MORE!  So please tell your friends and if you are ever wandering through McKale Center, stop by and say hello.

If you would like to donate, just send a check made out to “University of Arizona / GymCats” and send it to me here at the office.  I will get it to the proper people.  Your donation is tax deductible and greatly appreciated.



Be sure to check out the Official University of Arizona Athletics Website ( where you can find out a lot of information on the team.  You can relive the home meets on the internet with AllAccess, there are photo archives, player journal, team poster, media guide, and up to date information on the team.  This and all the newsletters can also be accessed from the site.  The archives of the old newsletters reside at (  You can also contact me if you would like to receive the newsletter by email.


Until next time...

Bear Down Challenge Gymnastics