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Arizona Gymnastics Meet Notes ?- UCLA (2/24/06)
What’s on Tap: The No. 14 Arizona women’s gymnastics team (3-8) will host the No. 6 UCLA Bruins (15-2) this Friday, Feb. 24, in McKale Center. The Pac-10 dual-meet is set to begin at 7:30 p.m.
Watch it Live: ArizonaAthletics.com will provide live statistics and a live video webcast of the event (video is mostly of Wildcat gymnasts only). As always, the live stats are free, while the live webcast this week will be available to All-Access subscribers only. Check back to ArizonaAthletics.com next week for free video clips of each event. Links will be provided in this article prior to the meet beginning on Friday. For more information, please log onto ArizonaAthletics.com.
The Rankings: The Wildcats remained at No. 14 in the nation this week as their RQS rose to 194.970. As a team, the Wildcats rank in the Top 20 in all four individual events, including No. 13 in the floor exercise, No. 14 on the beam, No. 7 on the uneven bars and No. 15 on the vault. Individually, Danielle Hicks is ranked No. 20 nationally in the all-around. Aubrey Taylor is ranked No. 21 in the all-around and No. 7 on the bars. The Wildcats began the year ranked No. 17 in the preseason coaches’ poll, and were ranked as high as No. 10 for the week of Jan. 30. Arizona has been ranked in 66 of the last 67 polls, including 19 straight.
About the Rankings: Unlike other collegiate athletic rankings, collegiate gymnastic rankings are not based on wins and losses or votes. Gymnastic teams are ranked by their meet scores alone. Teams are ranked by their highest score from Jan. 9-15. From Jan. 16-Feb. 16, teams will be ranked by their total season average. Starting Feb. 20, teams and gymnasts will be ranked by a Regional Qualifying Score (RQS). An RQS is based on a team's top six regular-season scores, with three scores coming from away meets. To obtain the RQS, the team's or gymnast’s highest score is dropped and the remaining five scores are averaged.
Arizona Head Coach: Bill Ryden is in his eighth season at the helm of the Arizona gymnastics program, owning a school and career record of 96-111-3. Ryden made his head coaching debut at Arizona in 1998 and made his first appearance as a head coach at the NCAA Championships in 2002, the program’s first appearance since 1996. In 2002, Ryden earned Pac-10 Conference Coach of the Year honors as well as South Central Regional Coach of the Year honors, becoming the first head coach in Arizona history to have earned Regional Coach of the Year honors. Additionally, Ryden has coached in 15 Pac-10 Championships, 12 NCAA Championships and 15 NCAA Regional meets. Ryden has also trained 12 All-Americans and 18 All-Pac-10 gymnasts in his tenure at Arizona.
Scouting the Bruins: UCLA comes to the desert boasting a No. 6 national ranking and a 15-2 record. The Bruins are coming off a two-week stretch that included five meets in 15 days. The saqud’s lone loss during that span was at No. 1 Georgia. The Bruins are led by All-American Kate Richardson, the NCAA leader in the all-around. She has scored a 39.0 or better in each of the team’s last eight meets, and earned a season-high 39.575 on Feb. 10. Additionally, Richardson is ranked No. 7 on floor, No. 25 on beam, No. 8 on bars and No. 5 on vault. The Bruins also rely on the impact of freshmen sensations Kristina Comforte and Ariana Berlin, who are ranked No. 7 and No. 15, respectively, in the all-around. UCLA is coached by Valorie Kondos Field, who is in her 16th year at the helm of the program.
Terrific Trio: Through the first six meets of the year, 96 of Arizona’s 192 (50 percent) routines have been performed by three gymnasts: Karin Wurm, Aubrey Taylor and Danielle Hicks. Together, the trio has brought consistent scoring and experience to Arizona’s lineup. In fact, nearly 60 percent of the Wildcats’ points earned this season have come from the three all-arounders. As a team, Arizona has scored 1,362.650 points, while Wurm, Taylor and Hicks have combined for 814.875, or 59.8 percent. Additionally, each has captured an all-around title and posted a 39.0 or better at least twice.
Home at Last: After spending five of the first seven weeks of the season traveling to Mexico, Pennsylvania, Oregon and California, the Wildcats will return home to McKale Center for the first of three straight home meets. Arizona will be happy to compete in front of the McKale faithful once again, as the Wildcats picked up their first two victories of the season on Jan. 27 and Feb. 3at home against California and Washington.
Fantastic Fans: Arizona always appreciates the great fan support it receives from the community, and this year is no exception. The Wildcats have performed impressively in their two home meets this season, including setting a season-high 195.875 on Jan. 27. At that meet, 1,061 fans watched the Wildcats defeat the Golden Bears. On the season, Arizona is averaging 1,033 fans per meet. Last year, an average of 966 fans cheered on the Wildcats per meet.
Target 196: In the early part of the season, the 195-mark was a good measuring stick as to how a team was developing. The Wildcats have reached that benchmark in four of the last five meets. Now, Arizona will look to break the 196-mark. The last time the Wildcats scored a 196 or better was on Senior Night last year when the team earned a total of 196.375, while picking up victories over Cal-State Fullerton, Texas Women’s and Ball State. Additionally, Arizona’s season-high score of 195.875 is the highest the team has scored since the Pac-10 Championships last year, when the club captured second-place with a 195.925.
Steady Improvement: The Wildcats got off to a shaky start on the beam this season, but have since found some consistency in their young lineup. After posting a season-low 47.350 in the second meet of the year at Penn State, Arizona has since improved its team score on beam in four of the last five meets. The most significant improvement came as the Wildcats rebounded from the season-low to score a 48.675 the following week, an improvement of 1.325 points. Arizona then bested its score again the following week against California, earning a 48.725, an improvement of 0.050 points. Two weeks ago, the squad again showed marked improvement, tallying a 48.850, for an improvement of 0.125 points. The last two weeks, Arizona scored a 48.825, just 0.025 below its season-best mark. As a team, the Wildcats have jumped up to No. 14 in the country after not being ranked early in the year.
She’s Back: Named Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week three weeks ago, Aubrey Taylor has re-emerged as an all-arounder this season, returning to the vault lineup, the one event she didn’t compete in a year ago. Over the last four meets, Taylor has broken the 39.0 mark and earned a then-season-high 39.175 in the Wildcats’ victory over Cal, which earned her the weekly honor. Two weeks ago, she broke her season-best mark in the Wildcats victory at Oregon State, totaling a 39.250. The two scores have each captured her all-around titles, the first two of her career. Her score against Oregon State (Feb. 10) was the highest total she has recorded since setting her career-high of 39.350 on Feb. 20, 2004. She has also claimed three bars titles this season, as she posted 9.900 scores against Arizona State, California, Oregon State and Stanford, and is ranked No. 7 nationally in the event.
Back to Form: Despite being a freshman a year ago, Danielle Hicks became one of the Wildcats’ most consistent performers at the end of last season, competing as an all-around in the final six meets of the season and capturing two titles. Hicks got off to a bit of a slow start this year, however, seeing both Karin Wurm and Aubrey Taylor earn more consistent all-around totals early in the year. That changed three weeks ago when Hicks scored a 39.150 and placed second in the all-around, a total much more reminiscent of the scores she earned as a freshman. She bested that total three weeks ago and claimed her first all-around title of 2006 with a score of 39.175 against Washington.
Star in the Making: Freshman Alexis Greene has wasted no time in making a significant impact in the Wildcat lineup. The 5-5 native of Severn, Md., has competed in three events in five of six meets to begin the season and has won three floor titles. In all, Greene as recorded 10 Top 5 finishes in meets this year (three on vault, four on bars and three floor titles).
Beamer on Beam: Freshman Briana Bergeson, known better by her teammates as ?'Beamer,’ has quickly become the Wildcats’ top scorer the last four weeks on the balance beam. In three consecutive meets, she bested her career-high and has placed no lower than second in those meets. At Arizona State, she earned a 9.800 to claim second. Against California she claimed the individual title with a 9.850. Against Washington, she set a season team-high 9.900 on the beam to claim her second-consecutive beam title. At Oregon State, she earned a third-place finish with a score of 9.825.
Workman-like Vaulter: Freshman Bree Workman has become one of the Wildcats’ top vaulters this season. She ranks second on the team behind classmate Alexis Greene with an average of 9.736. Against California, she earned a 9.825, good enough to claim her first-ever vault title. The 5-5 native of Lansing, Mich., set her career-high (9.850) at Penn State earlier in the year.
Instant Impact: The Wildcats have called upon five freshmen to play integral roles this season. Alexis Greene has been a regular in three events and has won three floor titles. Briana Bergeson holds a team-best 9.900 on beam and has won two titles in the event. Three weeks ago, Bree Workman claimed her first-career vault title. Sarah Parsons, who has a season-high 9.825 on bars, joins Bergeson and Greene as regulars in the bars rotation. Against Washington, filling in for Greene, Suzanne Alvey made her Wildcat debut and scored a 9.675 on vault. In all, seven of the team’s 24 routines have been performed by freshmen in each meet this season.
Fresh Faces: Arizona’s beam lineup is made up of four gymnasts who made their collegiate debuts in the event to begin the year. While the team got off to a slow start on the beam in the first two meets (47.425 and 47.350), the club has responded the last four weeks with scores of 48.675 at Arizona State, 48.725 against California, 48.850 against Washington and 48.825 against at Oregon State and at Stanford.
Facing the Best: Arizona always competes against some of the top programs in the nation year in and year out, and this season is no different. The Wildcats will face 12 of the nation’s Top 25 teams tabbed in the preseason coaches poll throughout the season, 10 of which are currently ranked. Arizona has already faced No. 1 Georgia, No. 4 Alabama, No. 5 Oklahoma, No. 12 Stanford (twice), No. 15 Arizona State, No. 16 Denver and No. 17 Oregon State. The Wildcats still have meets which include No. 2 Florida and No. 6 UCLA (this week). Arizona is 1-8 against ranked teams this season, and 2-0 against unranked opponents.
Stacked Pac: Once again, the Pac-10 will be one of the toughest conferences in the country. Five teams are ranked after the first seven weeks of competition. UCLA leads the way at No. 6, followed by No. 12 Stanford, No. 14 Arizona, No. 15 Arizona State and No. 17 Oregon State. The same five teams plus Washington had been ranked in the first two polls of the season. California is the lone team that has yet to be ranked this season.
The Lone Senior: When a team graduates six seniors in one class, it usually means that the following year they will rely on a number of underclassmen. That certainly is the case this year for the Wildcats, but don’t tell that to senior Erin Muirhead. Muirhead, the team captain, looks to provide veteran leadership as she returns for her final season as a Wildcat. Coming off of a foot injury that cut short her season last year, Muirhead earned marks of 9.600 on beam and 9.675 on floor in Cancun. Her appearance on beam was the first of her career. The South River, N.J., native claimed a share of her first floor title against California, posting a score of 9.825. She also set a new career-high on beam with a 9.750 against Oregon State.
Junior Duo: The Wildcats have also turned to the leadership of a pair of juniors, Aubrey Taylor and Jamie Holton. Taylor has emerged as an all-arounder for the first time since 2004, scored a season-best 39.250 against Oregon State and was named Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week earlier this year. She has now scored a 39.0 or better in four of the last five meets, including winning two all-around titles. Holton has also had some of her best meets the last few weeks, scoring a season-high 9.775 on floor in four of the last five meets. Last week, she competed in three events for the first time this season, including a season-debut on vault. The 5-5 junior showed no signs of rust, setting a new career-high with a 9.825 to lead the wildcats in the event.
Super Soph’s: Danielle Hicks, Karin Wurm and Rachelle Silberg all played vital roles on the Wildcat squad as freshmen. Now as sophomores, each are playing a prominent role in the Arizona lineups. Hicks has made 13-straight all-around appearances dating back to last season, while Wurm made her debut as an all-arounder this year. Silberg again has remained a mainstay in the club’s vault lineup, and won her first vault title two weeks ago with a 9.775.
Destination Corvallis: If all goes well, Arizona’s Feb. 10th trip to Corvallis, Ore., could end up being the first of three to the Beaver State this year. The Wildcats picked up a regular-season Pac-10 conference victory with their team score of 195.400. The next trip will be on March 25 for the Pac-10 Championships, and Arizona could make a return trip if the team advances to the NCAA Championships April 20-22.
Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week: Junior Aubrey Taylor was named the Pac-10 Conference Gymnast of the Week for the week of Jan. 24-30. The 5-2 native of Burlington, Ontario captured the first all-around title of her career against Oregon State while matching or setting a new season-high in every event, and earned her highest all-around score, 39.175, since Feb. 20, 2004. Taylor turned in a near-flawless routine on the uneven parallel bars, again tying her career-best mark of 9.900 to claim her second title in as many weeks. She also placed third on the balance beam, scoring a 9.750, and tallied a 9.800 on the floor to take fourth-place individually behind a trio of Wildcats that shared the individual title. Taylor also added her best score of the season, a 9.725, on vault.
A Look Back: No. 14 Arizona (194.625) fell to No. 10 Stanford (196.875) last Friday night in Burnham Pavilion.
The Wildcats, who had won three consecutive Pac-10 dual meets coming into the competition, could not have chosen a worse meet to have a bit of an off night. Arizona scored a season-low on floor and scored below its season average on bars, while Stanford was nearly flawless throughout the meet, capturing all four individual and team titles while setting a new season-best team total.
The Wildcats opened the meet on the uneven parallel bars, an event they were ranked fourth in the nation on entering the meet. However, Arizona would score below its season average as it totaled a 48.750. Aubrey Taylor led the way for the Wildcats as she scored her fourth 9.900 of the year, matching her career-high. Sophomores Danielle Hicks and Karin Wurm each chipped in 9.775 marks, while Alexis Green and Briana Bergeson tallied scores of 9.700 and 9.600, respectively.
Arizona then moved to the vault trailing the Cardinal, 49.150-48.750. Looking to make up ground, the Wildcats posted a team score of 48.675, the highest total in the event since Jan. 27 against California. Jamie Holton and Wurm led the way for Wildcats, each earning a 9.825. Holton’s performance was not only the first of the year for her on vault, but it also set a new career-high. Bree Workman received a 9.775, while Taylor added a 9.675 and Hicks scored a 9.575.
Over on bars, the Stanford gymnasts stole the show led by Liz Tricase. Tricase earned a 10.0 to claim the individual title. Her teammate Tabitha Yim nearly matched the perfect score, but settled for a 9.950. Natalie Foley, Nicole Ourada and Glyn Sweets also turned in impressive performances, with each scoring a 9.825. As a team, Stanford scored a 49.425, matching the highest team score in the nation on bars to date.
Trailing 98.575-97.425 entering the third rotation, Arizona struggled to close the gap. On the floor, the Wildcats were led by Hicks, who recorded an impressive 9.825. Jamie Holton and Greene each tallied marks of 9.775, while Muirhead posted a 9.750. Taylor (9.250) and Wurm (9.175) each turned in uncharacteristic performances as the Wildcats totaled a season-low 48.375 in the event.
Meanwhile, Stanford increased its lead scoring a season-high 49.050 on beam. Yim turned in her second mark of 9.950 on the night, claiming the individual title.
The Wildcats moved to the balance beam and showed some strong character, recording a solid 48.825 in the event. Hicks paced the Wildcats with a 9.800, while Bergeson, Taylor and Wurm each posted marks of 9.775. Muirhead also added a 9.700, while Holton scored a 9.675.
The Cardinal closed the meet strong, finishing with a 49.250 on floor. Ourada earned a 9.925 to capture the individual title.
Stanford gymnasts also swept the top three all-around spots. Yim captured the title with a 39.625, while Ourada and Foley totaled scores of 39.175 and 39.100, respectively. For the Wildcats, Hicks earned the top all-around score, posting a 38.975. Taylor tallied a 39.600, while Wurm totaled a 38.550.
Future Cats: Last November, Head Coach Bill Ryden announced the signing of three student-athletes who inked their names to National Letters of Intent to come to Arizona for the 2006-07 academic year. The future Wildcats are Brittney Morgan of Charlottesville, Va., Miranda Russell of Oshkosh, Wisc., and Jamie Custer of La Grange Park, Ill.
Looking ahead: The Wildcats will remain at home next week as they host No. 2 Florida and BYU on Friday, March 3.