Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Cats Host Beavers in Home Season Opener
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: January 16, 2012
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Jan. 16, 2012

What's Up:

No. 13 Arizona starts off the home season playing host to the No. 4 Beavers of Oregon State. The meet is scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. at the McKale Center. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are available for purchase through the McKale Center Ticket Office. The meet will also be available via live coverage from CBS College Sports All-Access.

Scouting the Opposition:

Last week, then No. 7 (now No. 4) Oregon State gymnastics team upset No. 4 (now No. 10) Oklahoma 196.525-195.975 breaking the Sooners' nation-leading 32 straight regular season win streak. Highlights included senior Leslie Mak's score of 9.90 on bars, and junior Makayla Stambaugh's score of 9.925 on floor.

Full Recap

Last Week:

The Wildcats started the season off with a bang, taking second place at the Cancun Classic against then No. 11 Arkansas (first place with a 196.450), No. 17 Auburn (third with a 194.775), No. 35 Iowa (fourth with a 193.875) and No. 12 LSU (fifth with a 192.500). The team totaled a score of 195.10, higher than five of the team totals scored in the 2011 season.

"We ended up going 24 for 24 in the scoring positions, 25 for 25 overall, so I'm very happy with the results of this meet. We competed incredibly hard, and incredibly motivated. It wasn't the best gymnastics we are capable of, but it is also only January 6th and we just came back from break." Ryden said, "We're pretty happy, and this meet gave us the opportunity to walk away with a ton of things we know we need to work on in order to really take charge this season."

Full Recap

Nearly Perfect:

Based on an upward trend of performances and scores in the 2011 season, senior Katie Matusik was expected to be a major contributor to the team in 2012. In the season opener in Cancun, Matusik did that and more, performing an almost flawless routine on the balance beam to earn a score of 9.90.

"Katie really nailed her beam routine. In fact, she rocked that thing. Everything she did was just pristine - aside from one step on the landing of her dismount. Given that, you have to know just how beautifully she performed." Ryden said.

In general, any steps on any landings (be it a vault landing, bar dismount, beam dismount, floor pass, etc.) are a one tenth deduction, meaning Matusik's beam performance really was flawless - the only deduction the judges could take was the step on the landing.

Matusik's score was the highest for the Cats on the event, and helped contribute to their second place victory in the meet. The score also proved that Matusik has not lost her touch from last season, and can be expected to make a splash on the event throughout the rest of 2012.

2011 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 Then, watch for your questions in the weekly Coach's Show!

Pre-season Rankings:

The Arizona gymnastics team headed into the season ranked No. 19 in the 2012 Women's Pre-Season Coaches poll. The Wildcats were one of six Pac-12 schools to place within the top 25 in the prelim poll, with UCLA 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:

After the fun in the sun in Cancun, head coach Bill Ryden bolsters a career record of 178-175-3.

What's Coming Up:

The Cats head up to Tempe on Friday, January 27 for the first of two head to head meets against in-state rival Arizona State. The winner of the meet will contribute a half of a point to their respective school for the State Farm Territorial Cup Challenge.


Bear Down Challenge Gymnastics