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Cats Head to Cancun for Season Opener
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 01/03/2012
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Jan. 3, 2012

What's Up:

The Arizona gymnastics team heads south for sun, fun, and most importantly competition as they get set to compete in the 2012 Cancun Classic in Cancun, Mexico.

The No. 19 Cats will be facing some of the toughest teams in the nation right off the bat, taking on No. 11 Arkansas, No. 12 LSU, No. 17 Auburn, and No. 25 Iowa.

"Our main goal for this meet is to experience some high caliber competition and hit our routines." Head coach Bill Ryden commented, "The meet is a little bit unusual, as we are competing in a completely different venue than we normally compete in, and we won't be competing our full lineup."

"Despite all of the different things that will be happening this meet, I think we will be able to walk out of this with a lot more knowledge about what is to come this season, and how we can adjust and improve with the upcoming meets." Ryden said.

The meet is set to take place Friday, January 6 at 7:00p.m. at the Hilton Golf and Beach Resort. For more information, please visit http://www.classicgymnasticseventsusa.com/.

2010 Review:

The Wildcats completed the 2011 season with an overall record of 13-12 and were able to make their 25th consecutive NCAA post-season appearance. Finishing fifth at the Pac-10 Championships and the NCAA Regional Championships, Arizona rounded out the season ranked No. 20 in the nation.

Major contributors included then RS senior Miranda Russell, and then-juniors Deanna Graham and Katie Matusik.

Russell, who had spent her RS junior season competing only on bars, returned to vault and floor in 2011, making a huge impact on the team totals with high scores of 9.875 on vault, two scores 9.90 on bars, and a career high 9.925 on floor. Russell also took fifth place on vault at the Pac-10 Championships, and sixth place on both bars and floor at the NCAA Regional Championships.

Graham was one of the team's top all-around athletes, posting a season high AA score of 39.100 at the Pac-10 Championships. Graham also tallied high scores of 9.925 on vault, 9.850 on bars, 9.90 on beam, and 9.90 on floor. Her performance throughout the season earned conference recognition as she was named to the first-team All-Pac-10 All-Around.

Matusik had a break out junior season as well, taking the title of "beam queen" for the season. Matusik earned three scores of 9.90 or better on the event, with a career high 9.925 at BYU (2/26). She also earned second place on beam at the NCAA Regional Championships with a score of 9.875, and was named to the first-team All-Pac-10 Beam Team. Lastly, Matusik was one of two conference athletes to be honored with the Pac-10 Sportsmanship Award for 2011.

A number of Wildcats were recognized by the conference throughout the season, including Matusik (Special Performance of the Week Feb. 21 - 27), Graham (Gymnast of the Week Feb. 7 - 13, and Mar. 7-13), then junior Aubree Cristello (Gymnast of the Week Jan. 31-Feb.6, and first-team All-Pac-10 All-Around), and Russell (Special Performance of the Week Jan. 24-30).

Look Out for New GymCats:

Arizona added a number of new faces this season, including Danielle Buchanan out of Lancaster, Calif., Allison Flores hailing from Addison, Ill., Edmonton, Alberta native Kristin Klarenbach, and Amber Wobma from Rockford, Mich.

Questions for Coach:

Each week, head gymnastics coach Bill Ryden sits down to talk with us to analyze the previous week's meet. This Coach's Show is available for free via the All-Access tab on the website. 

This season Ryden is entertaining questions from the public. If you have any questions you would like to ask Coach Ryden - from the type of grips the girl's like to use to different coaching decisions - e-mail them to the gymnastics SID Valery Meusburger at vem@email.arizona.edu. Then, watch for your questions in the weekly Coach's Show!

Pre-season Rankings:

The Arizona gymnastics team heads into the season ranked No. 19 in the 2012 Women's Pre-Season Coaches poll. The Wildcats are one of six Pac-12 schools to place within the top 25, with UCLA currently ranked No. 1, Utah ranked No. 5, Oregon State at No. 7, Stanford at No. 8, and Washington falling in at No. 16.

Ryden's Record:

Head Coach Bill Ryden finished out the 2010 season with an overall even record of 175-174-3.

What's Coming Up:

The Wildcats play host to No. 7 Oregon State for the first home meet of the season on January 20 at 7 p.m.

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