Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
011-21-2007 Gymcat Signees
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: November 21, 2007
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Tucson , Ariz. ?C University of Arizona gymnastics head coach Bill Ryden announced Wednesday that four student-athletes have signed National Letters-of-Intent during the early signing period to attend school and compete for the Gymcats.? The quartet will report to Arizona in the fall of 2008.

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The Arizona gymnastics early signing period class includes Becca Cardenas, Deanna Graham, Katie Matusik and Jillian Oˇ?Neal.

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ˇ?This is a great recruiting class for our program because it is a group of capable gymnasts who will add a lot of depth to our rotation immediately,ˇ± Ryden said.? ˇ?Next season, we will be a young team that will be reloading, and these gymnasts have the ability to step in right away and contribute to our success.ˇ±

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Cardenas, a 5-foot-1 all-arounder, hails from the Hawaiian Mission Academy and the Hawaiian Island Twisters Gymnastics Club in Honolulu.? She is a three-time Junior Olympic National qualifier, and a three-time Level 10 Regional Qualifier.? Cardenas has five top-10 finishes at the Junior Olympic national competition, and finished first in the state all-around competition the past two seasons.

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ˇ?Becca is a classic all-arounder who has the talent to come in here and make an immediate impact with her skills,ˇ± Ryden said.? ˇ?She is strong in every event and has the ability to compete as an all-arounder for us right away.? I expect her to challenge for a spot in each rotation, and she is ready to make a name for herself here at Arizona.ˇ±

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Graham is a Tucson native from Desert Christian HS and Springs Gymnastics Club.? She is currently coached by three former Gymcats: Andi McCabe, Jessamyn Salter and Mary Reiss.? Graham was named the 2007 State Optional Gymnast of the Year, and earned a national vault championship in Level 10 competition.? Also as a Level 10 competitor, Graham has finished second in the all-around and on floor, and finished first in the all-around at the Regional championships with first-place finishes on vault, beam and floor.

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ˇ?Deanna is a homegrown Tucson gymnast who is the first scholarship gymnast from Tucson we have signed since Randi Liljenquist,ˇ± Ryden said.? ˇ?Our coaching staff has watched Deanna grow up, and she truly is a physically gifted gymnast with amazing talent.? I am very happy that she will join the team she has been around for so long, and I am very excited to have such a powerful and dynamic athlete become a part of our program.ˇ±

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Matusik is a 5-foot-5 gymnast from Plano, Texas who hails from Plano Senior HS and the World Olympic Gymnastics Academy.? As a three-time Level 10 competitor, Matusik placed 14th in the all-around and fourth on beam at the 2007 national championships.? She also won a beam championship, and placed third in the all-around and fourth on bars at the 2007 Level 10 Region 3 championships.?

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ˇ?Katie is a talented gymnast out of one of the top private gymnastics clubs in the nation,ˇ± Ryden said.? ˇ?She is a classic gymnast with a classic style, and she performs at a very high level.? She will have an immediate impact on our floor and beam rotation, and she has the ability to be a national level bar worker.ˇ±

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Oˇ?Neal, from Fountain Hills, Ariz., is a 5-foot-4 all-arounder who hails from Fountain Hills HS and Arizona Sunrays Gymnastics Club.? She is the reigning 2007 Arizona bars, beam and all-around champion, and was a 2007 national qualifier.

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ˇ?Jillian is the latest in a long line of outstanding gymnasts from the Arizona Sunrays,ˇ± Ryden said.? ˇ?She is a national level bar worker, and I expect her to contribute right away for us on bars, beam and floor.ˇ±

Arizona will open the 2008 season Friday, Jan. 11 against NC State and Alaska in McKale Center.
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