TUCSON, Ariz. ?- The Arizona women’s gymnastics team will begin the 2006 season ranked No. 17 in the nation, according the Preseason Coaches Poll released last week. The Wildcats, who received 188 points, are among six Pac-10 teams ranked in the Top 25.
“It’s actually a very generous ranking,” head coach Bill Ryden said. “Everyone knows that half of our lineup is young and unproven. The ranking is, however, a testament to success of our program over the years.”
The Wildcats will again face one of the most difficult schedules in the country, matching up with 12 of the nation’s Top 25 teams throughout the season. The list includes No. 3 and defending Pac-10 champion UCLA, as well as No. 1 and defending national champion Georgia. Arizona will also square off with No. 4 Alabama, No. 6 Florida, No. 9 Stanford and No. 10 Oklahoma.
Other Pac-10 teams in the Top 25 include No. 13 Oregon State, No. 14 Arizona State and No. 18 Washington. The other remaining team, California, also received votes.
The Wildcats, who finished 2005 ranked tied for 18th, return seven student-athletes from last year’s squad that placed second at the Pac-10 Championships. Arizona will also rely on contributions from seven freshmen.
The club participated in its first intra-squad scrimmage last Friday. The team worked through rotations on the vault and beam.The team will host its second intra-squad scrimmage on Saturday, Dec. 17. The regular season begins Jan. 6 in Cancun, Mexico, at the Cancun Gymnastics Classic.