March 11, 2011
TUCSON, Ariz. - the Arizona Women's Gymnastics team wrapped up the regular season with a season high score of 195.625 to overtake the Cougars, Wildcats, and Pioneers. BYU took second place with a score of 195.300, New Hampshire earned third with a 194.625, and TWU finished up with a 191.475.
"I think that it was really nice to compete well after last week. The fact that we didn't have a good outing last week meant we needed to get back on track with our gymnastics. We certainly did that this meet, I was pleased," head coach Bill Ryden said.
The Cats hit the vault running, with a team total of 49.125. Sophomore Molly Quirk started the team with a solid base score of 9.650, and scores continued to rise from there. Freshman Jordan Williams earned a 9.700, followed by sophomore Mykle Douglas with a 9.750. Sophomore Aubree Cristello drilled her landing for a 9.875 (tying for second).
"We started off well. We weren't doing our best vaults at the beginning; we were landing them, which we have to do, but we just kept getting stronger and stronger as the lineup went on. This was nice to see," Ryden said.
Two new career highs were scored in the end of the lineup by senior Miranda Russell and junior Deanna Graham. Russell posted a 9.875 (tying for second), and Graham posted a 9.925 (tying for first with BYU's Natalie Eyre).
"It was nice to finally see Miranda do a practice vault in the meet. She just boomed that sucker," Ryden said. "I had been teasing Deanna all night about sticking - she is one of the best vaulters in the country, but she always takes a little step to the side. She wanted to stick it to me so badly, and she was so close to nailing that thing. Her vault was pristine."
The momentum continued on bars; the Wildcats posted a score just .01 shy of a 49, totaling a 48.900. Leaders on the event were Graham, Russell, and junior Katie Matusik, all with scores of 9.800 to tie for third place. Other contributors included Quirk, with a 9.775, and Cristello, who earned a 9.725.
"We messed up our first two routines, but the girls didn't give up or panic. Sometimes you just have to fight. The routines weren't easy or perfect, but the girls had fight and I have to give them credit for that," Ryden said.
The Cats had a little bit of trouble on beam, posting a 48.450. Matusik continued to lead the team on the third rotation, this time sharing the spotlight with freshman Shana Sangston. Both girls posted scores of 9.800 to tie for second overall along with BYU's Eyre.
"Shana. What can you say about how she's developed? An unknown walk on who wanted to join the team, would I have expected her to come out as strong as she has? No. Am I extremely proud of her? Yes. She's stepping up in an area where we really need her, and she's making a huge dent," Ryden said.
Directly behind them were Graham and Williams, with a score of 9.750. This marked a new career high for Williams.
"It was quite unexpected, I'm still a little bit shocked about how Aubree and Molly competed. But you have to give it up for the other four girls, we came through and made a decent score out of it," Ryden said.
The Wildcats then went 1,2,3 on floor. Graham placed first with a 9.875, Russell took silver with a 9.850, and Cristello captured the bronze with a 9.825. Both junior Rebecca Cardenas and Quirk earned scores of 9.800, and Matusik contributed with a 9.775.
"We have worked for the last two weeks on cleaning up our landings and our dance. I really felt like tonight showed a lot of the results of that hard work," Ryden said. "We've had more issues on floor this year than I can ever remember, we've been working on those issues harder than ever, and it was nice to see some of that work pay off in our results."
The Cats had three all-around competitors this meet, Graham, Cristello and Quirk. Graham took first overall with a season high 39.350. Cristello posted a 38.625, and Quirk finished out the competition with a 38.575.
"Deanna had a great meet. In reality, Aubree and Molly both went two for four, and still got strong scores. I know that Molly and Aubree will come back with a vengeance for sure, but Deanna was absolutely on fire," Ryden said.
The competition concluded with a highlight of senior Miranda Russell, honoring her achievements throughout her five years as a Wildcat gymnast.
"I am so happy with Miranda's senior year. You always want a senior to hit on her senior meet, she did that. She is making the most of her knee, and our team wouldn't be the same without her," Ryden said.