CORVALLIS, Ore. ?- The No. 14 Arizona women’s gymnastics team used strong performances early and late to outlast the No. 19 Oregon State Beavers, 195.400-194.925, on Friday night in Gill Coliseum before 3,537 fans.
The Wildcats were able to pull out the victory despite having to overcome strong second and third rotations from the host Beavers, who set new team season-high’s on both the bars and beam. Wildcat gymnasts won individual titles in three of the four events, while junior Aubrey Taylor captured her second all-around title in three weeks.
“I am so proud of the team,” Ryden said following the meet. “This was not easy. I thought the scoring was very tight in spots. Our girls hung in there and kept fighting. This is a great away score, especially in this meet where we always have troubles.”
The Wildcats opened the meet on the uneven parallel bars and recorded a team score of 48.975, to take an early lead on the Beavers who scored a 48.100 on the vault. Aubrey Taylor led the Arizona bars team, which ranks No. 4 in the nation in the event, as she matched her season and career-high with a 9.900 to earn a share of her second bars title of the season. Karin Wurm added a 9.825 to share third place in the event, while Alexis Greene tallied a 9.800 to share fifth place. Danielle Hicks and Briana Bergeson chipped in marks of 9.775 and 9.675, respectively.
For the second rotation, the Wildcats moved to the vault and notched a team score of 48.625. OSU, however, made up ground on the bars, posting a season-high team score of 49.025, paced by Jami Lanz who tied Taylor for the individual title.
On the vault, Arizona was led by sophomore’s Rachelle Silberg and Wurm who shared the individual title as each received 9.775 marks. Greene and Hicks shared fifth place following their scores of 9.725, while Bree Workman and Taylor each chipped in a 9.625 to tie for eighth place.
Leading 97.600-97.125 heading to the third rotation, the Wildcats moved to the floor exercise and scored a 48.975. On the beam, the Beavers chipped away at the lead, again scoring a season-high 49.075. For the Wildcats, Taylor and Wurm closed out the rotation in style, each earning a 9.875 from the judges to share the individual title. Jamie Holton matched her season-high for the third straight-week, tallying a 9.775. Hicks and Greene added scores of 9.750 and 9.700, respectively.
Holding onto 146.575-146.200 lead, Arizona would not back down as it headed to beam, the one event that plagued the team early in the season. Erin Muirhead and Holton started the scoring off, each setting new career-high’s with scores of 9.675 and 9.775, respectively. Wurm then added a solid 9.675, before Taylor turned in a season-best mark of 9.850, which earned her a second-place finish. Bergeson then followed with a third-place score of 9.825. Hicks rounded out the scoring with a 9.675. All counted, the Wildcats scored a 48.825, their second highest team score on beam this season.
“Oregon State is a great beam team and they always have been,” Ryden said. “Our girls went into that final rotation with the attitude of, ?'We’re going to match them’. I didn’t even have to say anything. They were sort of angry and knew what they had to do. They wanted to win.”
For the fourth-consecutive meet, two Wildcats scored a 39.0 or better in the all-around. With her 39.250, Taylor won the second all-around title of her career, and posted her highest total since Feb. 20, 2004. Wurm, who scored a 39.150 to place third, tallied her highest total since winning her first career all-around at Arizona State on Jan. 22. Hicks, who won the all-around last week in Tucson against Washington, finished fourth with a 38.925.
“Aubrey was simply unbelievable tonight,” said Ryden of the 5-2 native of Burlington, Ontario. “She hurt her shoulder on Wednesday and it was even questionable whether she would be able to compete tonight. We had backup plans ready in case she couldn’t, but she really toughed it out.”
The win marks the first time since 1997 that Arizona has defeated OSU in Corvallis when the Wildcats placed third out of six teams at the Shanico Invitational, one spot ahead of the Beavers. Previously, the Wildcats had fallen to the Beavers in 2004, 2002, 2000 and 1998.
Only three current gymnasts ?- Muirhead, Taylor and Holton ?- have previously competed at OSU.
“This team is so young that I don’t think they can realize the history of our troubles up here,” said Ryden. “This is a very satisfying win.”
Arizona (3-7) will remain on the road next week as it takes on Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif., on Friday, Feb. 17.