The University of Arizona women's gymnastics team turned the season around after experiencing some bumps in the road to conclude the 1999 campaign ranked No. 20 in the nation, closing out the year with a 14-10-1 overall record and a 6-5-1 mark in the Pacific-10 Conference. Arizona ended the regular season with a fourth-place finish in the region and qualified for the NCAA Region III Championships in Lincoln, Neb., where the Wildcats closed out postseason action with an impressive third-place score of 193.625 behind Michigan and Nebraska. Arizona improved upon its 1998 fourth-place finish in the region, and the UA landed its highest regional finish since 1996 when the Cats finished second and qualified for the NCAA Championships. Although the UA just missed qualifying for one of the two regional team berths to the NCAA Championships, redshirt junior Heidi Hornbeek qualified as the No. 1 at-large seed in the all-around at the championships and received All-America honors in the uneven bars, balance beam and all-around events, making her the most highly decorated Arizona gymnast with a total of six All-America selections.
Arizona faced a ranked opponent in 10 out of 12 meets, including the postseason, and scored impressive upset wins over top-25 teams Oregon State, Washington, Nebraska, Florida, Stanford, Oklahoma and Arizona State. Head coach Bill Ryden led the Wildcats to their first winning record since 1997 in his first year at the helm of the program, and the UA also recorded its highest finish in three years at the Pac-10 Championships after landing in a fourth-place tie with defending conference champion Stanford with a score of 195.150--the team's third-highest meet total of the season and the second-highest Pac-10 score in UA history. The Cats, who posted a 5-2 dual meet mark, set a new school record against Pac-10 rival Arizona State in the final meet of the regular season with a remarkable score of 196.300, and the team also posted four season-high event scores that rank in the top five on the UA's all-time top-10 performance list.
Arizona had a rocky start in January after posting a season-low score of 188.600 in a triangular meet at Boise State with Cal State Fullerton, but the UA bounced back in true Wildcat fashion to record the season's three-highest scores of 196.300 (Arizona State), 195.575 (Oklahoma) and 195.150 (Pac-10 Championships) that currently rank as the No. 1, No. 4 and No. 9 scores, respectively, on the UA's all-time top-10 performance list. Under Ryden's guidance, redshirt junior Heidi Hornbeek, a seven-time All-Pac-10 selection, earned her sixth All-America honor at the NCAA Championships, and she also received all-conference honors on vault, while senior Kristin McDermott was named to the All-Pac-10 team in the all-around for the second time in her gymnastics career.
Arizona's Top-five Club
Arizona improved consistently in each event as the season progressed, and the team's efforts paid off with a fourth-place finish in the region, keeping the Wildcats' postseason hopes alive. At the Region III Championships, the Cats finished in third place behind national powerhouses Michigan and Nebraska. The Wildcats proved their mental and athletic strength, performing well under pressure against several of the nation's top-25 opponents, and they posted five season-high scores that currently rank in the top five on the UA's all-time top-10 performance list. Against Arizona State (3/26), the Cats scored a 196.300--the highest overall team total in UA gymnastics history. Arizona also scored a season-high 49.175 on beam against ASU, to tie for the No. 1 position on the top-10 list, and the Cats scored a 49.375 on bars, the third-highest uneven bars score in UA gymnastics history. At the Pac-10 Championships (3/20), the Cats recorded a season-high score of 49.025 on vault that tied for fifth place on the all-time list, and against Utah (2/12), Arizona scored a 49.150 on floor that tied for the No. 4 spot on the all-time top-10 list.
Head coach Bill Ryden: "We are a little disappointed, but we are a good program, and we will be back next year with virtually the same team. We are already working on different skills, and we know where we need to improve. We had a good finish, but the three falls at regionals on bars and beam changed everything, and that was obviously very frustrating. This season was definitely a growing pains year, and considering where we started at the beginning of the year, finishing 20th gives us even more to work for next season."
Assistant coach Karen Tierney: "Everything really picked up during the second half of the season, and the skills and routines came together in all four events. We had a successful season in that we made it to regionals when no one really expected us to even get there, but next year, we need to create a better consistency in all four events right from the beginning."
Assistant coach John Court: "The team just cracked the surface, but the gymnasts still have more to achieve. They set a new school record against ASU, and the team consistently beat teams ranked in the top 12 throughout the season. If we can perform as well next year as we did in the second half of the season, then we will be a national contender. But, we need to come out swinging right from day one, and day one isn't the first competition, it's the first day of practice."
Arizona's Last Time Out
The University of Arizona finished the 1999 season with a third-place score of 193.625 at the NCAA Region III Championships on April 10, in front of a crowd of 2,317, in the University of Nebraska's Bob Devaney Sports Center. Arizona's score was the sixth-highest team total of the season, and the Wildcats--ranked No. 25 going into regionals--concluded the year with a 14-10-1 overall record.
Although the Wildcats just missed qualifying for one of the two regional team berths to the NCAA Championships, redshirt junior Heidi Hornbeek qualified individually for the championships in the all-around with a season-high 39.375 and a tie for second place in the event. Hornbeek's score of 39.375 was the highest regional qualifying score out of the 12 at-large competitors who were not on an NCAA qualifying team, and it also tied the fifth-highest all-around score in UA gymnastics history.
"Heidi (Hornbeek) did extremely well. After a tough time during warm ups, we weren't even sure if she was going to be able to compete in all four events, but Heidi finished with an outstanding meet," Arizona head coach Bill Ryden said.
Fourth-ranked Michigan won the regional with a score of 196.750, while seventh-ranked Nebraska finished ahead of Arizona in second place with a meet score of 196.325. Arizona upset No. 22 Oklahoma for the second time this season, and the Sooners landed in fourth place with a score of 193.225. Illinois (193.100) and Illinois-Chicago (192.400) rounded out the field in fifth and sixth place, respectively.
After one event, the Wildcats trailed Nebraska (49.250) and Michigan (49.025) with a score of 48.925, and Arizona's score of 48.925 on floor exercise became the fourth-highest season total, and it tied the 10th-highest score in UA gymnastics history. Following two events, Arizona maintained its third-place position with a score of 97.175, trailing second-place Nebraska (97.800) and first-place Michigan (98.175). Heading into the third event, the UA trailed Michigan by only .625, but the Cats had to count two falls on bars. Arizona roared back with an impressive beam rotation, but it was not enough to move into the second position.
"The competition was a little rough. We started off well on floor and vault, but on bars, our performance was very un-Arizona like, and that rotation spelled our fate for the night," Ryden said. "To their credit, however, the gymnasts didn't give up, and they really came back on beam."
Individually, Hornbeek finished in a tie for first place on beam with a new season-high 9.900 and landed in a tie for fourth place on bars with a 9.825. She was Arizona's highest finisher on vault in eighth place with a 9.825, and both Hornbeek and freshman Randi Liljenquist ended the meet as Arizona's top finishers on floor in a tie for eighth place (9.825). Redshirt junior Maureen Kealey finished in a tie for fifth place on beam with a 9.850, while junior Kiernan Andrews scored a season-high 9.675 on floor.
"After such a rough start in the beginning of the season, l'm very proud of our team," Ryden said. "It wasn't our best meet, but the team never gave up, and the gymnasts fought through a lot all season."
Home Sweet Home
Arizona chalked up a 10-9-1 overall record on the road and a 9-3-1 record on a neutral site. The Cats closed out the regular season with an impressive 4-1 mark at home, where Arizona upset four top-25 teams in McKale Center (Oregon State, Stanford, Oklahoma and Arizona State). During the season, Arizona battled 10 top-25 opponents (Oregon State, Washington, Nebraska, Utah, UCLA, Florida, Stanford, Michigan, Oklahoma, Arizona State) and the UA ended at 7-9-1 against nationally-ranked teams (Arizona met some teams twice during the year).
Rough and Tumble Competition
The Wildcats faced ten opponents at least twice during the season, and the UA posted an 12-7-1 record against Oregon State, Washington, Nebraska, California, UCLA, Cal-State Fullerton, Stanford, Michigan, Oklahoma and Arizona State. The UA scored upset victories over Oregon State, Nebraska, Florida, Stanford, Oklahoma and Arizona State and 10 of its opponents ended the season ranked nationally in the top-25 women's gymnastics poll.
The Cats in the Polls
Arizona concluded the season ranked No. 20 in the nation, and during the course of the season, the UA appeared in four of the national polls. In the final regular-season poll on March 30 before the regional championships, the Cats were ranked No. 25 in the nation overall, and they were also tied for No. 14 on bars and listed at No. 25 on beam. Maureen Kealey concluded the regular season ranked No. 24 nationally in the all-around, and Heidi Hornbeek was tied for No. 17 on vault. In the region, Arizona, who finished fourth during the regular season, was fifth on vault, third on bars, and sixth on both beam and floor going into the regional championships. Individually, Hornbeek was fourth on vault, while Kristin McDermott was tied for eighth in the region on vault, and Brooke Stan and Kealey were tied for No. 25 in the event. Kealey was seventh on bars, Hornbeek was tied for No. 13, McDermott was tied for No. 17 and Kara Fry was tied for No. 24. Randi Liljenquist was tied for No. 19, and McDermott was tied for No. 24 on beam and tied for No. 15 on floor, while Kealey was tied for No. 18 and Hornbeek was No. 25 on floor. In the all-around, Kealey was fourth, McDermott seventh, Hornbeek No. 12 and Fry rounded out the Arizona field, coming in at No. 20.
Farewell Beam Problems
Although the Wildcats experienced some difficulties on beam during the first half of the season, they finished the second half of the season scoring the season's highest scores on beam in the last five regular-season meets. Against Arizona State (3/26), the Cats scored a season-high 49.175 to tie for the No. 1 spot on the UA's all-time top-10 list. At the Pac-10 Championships (3/20), Arizona scored a 48.225, and against Oklahoma (3/12), the Cats scored the fourth-highest beam mark of the season with a 48.675. At Michigan (3/6), the Cats recorded a score of 48.950, and they posted a 48.775 against Stanford (2/26). Arizona's beam score of 48.950 took the No. 6 spot on the UA's all-time top-10 performance list, and the score of 48.775 is currently tied for the No. 9 spot on the top-10 list. Arizona's season-high score of 49.175 was over three points higher than its lowest beam mark of 45.900 scored at the Washington-Nebraska meet (1/22).
Honored I'm Sure
After sitting out last season following major shoulder surgery, redshirt junior Heidi Hornbeek earned three first-team All-America honors for her performances on bars, beam and in the all-around at the NCAA Championships, and she also garnered first-team Pac-10 All-Academic and GTE Academic All-District honors with a 3.76 GPA in physiological sciences. Hornbeek, a seven-time All-Pac-10 selection, received all-conference honors on vault for her outstanding five vault titles. Hornbeek was an All-Pac-10 selection during her freshman year in 1996 for the all-around, uneven bars and floor exercise, and she was named to the all-conference team once again in 1997 for the all-around, beam and floor exercise.
Senior all-around sensation Kristin McDermott was named to the All-Pac-10 team for the second time in her career after scoring a career-high 39.525 to lead the Wildcats against Arizona State in the final meet of the regular season.
The University of Arizona gymnastics team has had at least one gymnast named to the All-Pac-10 team every year since 1990.
At the team banquet held on May 8, senior All-American Kristin McDermott was chosen Most Valuable Gymnast and received the Golden "A" Award, and freshman standout Randi Liljenquist, who competed in every meet during the season, was named Newcomer of the Year. Redshirt juniors Heidi Hornbeek and Maureen Kealey received the "Tough as Nails" Award following their impressive comebacks after suffering season-ending injuries in 1998, and the inaugural Jim Gault Coach's Award was presented to sophomore Kara Fry and junior Lisa Heckel for their outstanding efforts in the gym and classroom.
And First Place Goes to....
Redshirt junior Heidi Hornbeek racked up 32 top-five finishes, including 12 first place titles, during her remarkable comeback season. At the NCAA Regional Championships, she tied for first place on beam with a season-high 9.900 that tied the fifth-highest beam score on the UA's all-time top-10 performance list. To close out the regular season against Arizona State (3/26), she tied for first place on vault, with a score of 9.850, and she also scored a season-high 9.925 (tied the fifth-highest score on the UA's all-time top-10 list) to grab the uneven bars title. Against Oklahoma (3/12), she helped lead the Arizona charge with a first-place finish on vault (9.850) and a first-place bars title (9.875). At home against Stanford (2/26), Hornbeek added another first-place bars championship (9.800) to her collection, and at home against Utah (2/12), Hornbeek looked impressive once again, taking the first-place spot on vault with a 9.875, which currently ranks as the No. 10 score on the UA's all-time list. She grabbed another first-place finish on vault with a season-high 9.900 at California (2/6), and Hornbeek's 9.900 pushed her into the No. 6 spot on the UA's all-time top-10 performance list. In the first two meets of the season, Hornbeek tied for first place on floor (9.850) at the Washington-Nebraska meet, and in her first meet after surgery against Oregon State (1/15), she took first place on vault (9.800) and tied for first place on bars (9.800).
Hornbeek's NCAA History
Arizona redshirt junior Heidi Hornbeek tied for second place and scored a season-high 39.375 in the all-around at the NCAA Region III Championships, and the score was the highest regional qualifying score out of the 12 at-large competitors who were not on an NCAA qualifying team. Hornbeek, the No. 1 all-around seed, made her second appearance at the NCAA Championships (4/22) where she finished eighth overall in the all-around with a score of 39.350--the No. 7 score on the UA's all-time top-10 list. During the all-around competition, Hornbeek secured herself a spot in the individual event finals on bars and beam with a third-place finish on bars (9.875) and a tie for first place on beam (9.875). She also tied for 12th place on vault (9.775) and tied for 13th on floor (9.825) during the first day of competition. In the individual event finals (4/24) she tied for eighth place on bars (9.875) and tied for seventh on beam (9.800), and Hornbeek capped off an impressive comeback season with first-team All-America honors in the uneven bars, beam and all-around events, and she is now the most highly decorated UA gymnast after receiving All-America accolades for the sixth time in her career. Hornbeek, a 5-3 native of Glendale, Ariz., certainly is no stranger to the NCAA Championships. During a record-setting freshman season, she scored a perfect 10.000 on floor exercise at the 1996 NCAA Championships, earning her the national title in the event, and she also earned All-America honors that same year for her NCAA performances in the bars, floor and all-around events. Hornbeek's career-best score of 10.000 on floor ranks as the top mark in Arizona gymnastics history.
Senior All-American Kristin McDermott competed as an all-arounder in ten out of twelve meets this season, and despite injury or illness, she never missed a meet during her four years as a Wildcat gymnast. Against Arizona State (3/26), she won the all-around crown with a new career-best score of 39.525--the second-highest all-around score in UA gymnastics history. The score is almost two full points higher than her lowest score of 37.900 against Washington and Nebraska on Jan. 22. She also tied for first place on vault (9.850--tied career best), tied for second place on bars (9.900--season high), tied for fourth place on beam (9.875-season high), and she finished in third place on floor (9.900--tied career-best) against the Sun Devils. At the Pac-10 Championships (3/20), she was Arizona's top all-around finisher in sixth place, with a 39.250--her third-highest score of the season. Against Oklahoma (3/12), tied for first place on vault (9.850), tied for fourth on bars (9.825), finished in third place on beam (9.800), tied for third on floor (9.850), and she scored a 39.325 to win the all-around title, and her score now stands at No. 8 on the UA's all-time top-10 performance list. At home against Utah (2/12) she tied for first place on floor with a season-high 9.900, and on the road at California, McDermott tied for fifth place on vault (9.600), finished in second on bars (9.775), third on beam (9.775), first on floor (9.800) and finished first in the all-around (38.950). In the Cats' season-opener, she grabbed the all-around title (38.475) against Oregon State (1/15) and finished in fourth place on vault (9.700), tied for first on bars (9.800) and tied for fifth on floor (9.675). McDermott's floor score of 9.900 against Utah (2/12) and ASU (3/26) matched her career-best mark and ranks as the No. 4 score in UA gymnastics history.
Redshirt junior Maureen Kealey returned to the lineup in 1999 after suffering a season-ending injury on vault in the team's second meet of the 1998 season, and she closed out the season with 25 top-five finishes. She continued to improve week after week, and she tied for fifth place on beam with a 9.850 at the NCAA Region III Championships. In the final regular-season meet against the Sun Devils, she tied for second place on bars (9.900), and she finished fourth in the all-around with a 39.250--her second-highest score this season. At the Pac-10 Championships (3/20), she tied with Heidi Hornbeek for ninth place in the all-around with a score of 39.075, and she also set a season-high score of 9.800 on vault. Against Oklahoma (3/12), Kealey tied her season-high 9.900 to take the first-place title on floor, and her floor score matched the fourth-highest score in UA history. She also finished in second place in the all-around (39.225) right behind Kristin McDermott and grabbed third place on bars (9.850). Kealey, a 1996 All-America selection, had her breakthrough meet of the year when she led the way for the Wildcats against Michigan (3/6) with an impressive second-place finish in the all-around, where she scored a new career-best 39.400. Kealey's impressive all-around score moved her into the No. 4 spot on the UA's all-time top-10 all-around performance list. In the same meet, she tied for second place on bars with a season-high 9.925, and Kealey grabbed the beam title with a new season-high and career-best score of 9.900, leading the Wildcats to a team victory on beam (48.950). She tied for second place on floor with another season-high score of 9.900, and Kealey is now tied for fifth place on bars, tied for fifth on beam and tied for fourth place on floor on the UA's all-time top-10 list. Kealey grabbed the all-around title (39.050) against Stanford (2/26), and she handed in an impressive first-place finish on bars with a score of 9.875 at California (2/6). Kealey was named Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week for March 2--the only Wildcat to receive the honor--after helping the Wildcats earn a stunning victory over defending Pac-10 champion Stanford (2/26).
A Star is Born
Freshman sensation and Tucson, Ariz., native Randi Liljenquist impressed the coaching staff, as well as opponents, throughout the season, earning 15 top-five finishes, including eight top-three finishes in only her first season at the collegiate level. Arizona's Newcomer of the Year competed in every meet on bars, beam and floor, and she concluded the season with an eighth-place tie on floor (9.825) at the NCAA Region III Championships. Against Arizona State (3/26), she finished in a tie for fourth place on beam with a new career-best 9.875, and she tied for 18th place on beam (9.725) in her debut at the Pac-10 Championships (3/20). Against Oklahoma (3/12) Liljenquist scored a season-high 9.825 to tie for fourth place, she grabbed first-place honors on beam with a 9.850 and posted another season-high score of 9.850 on floor, finishing in a tie for third place. She tied for third place on bars (9.700), tied for fifth place on beam (9.775), and she took the fifth spot on floor (9.675) against Stanford (2/26). Liljenquist helped provide the spark for the Cats at the UCLA Invitational (2/20) with a tie for third place on beam (9.725), and she tied for second place on bars (9.775) against third-ranked Utah (2/12). At California (2/6) she grabbed third place on bars (9.750), she finished in second place on beam (9.850), and she also took fourth place on floor (9.725). At Boise State (1/31), Liljenquist tied for fifth place on bars (9.650) and tied for fourth (9.575) on floor, and she finished in second place on floor with a 9.750 in her first collegiate meet against Pac-10 powerhouse Oregon State (1/15). Liljenquist's career-best 9.850 on beam ties Maureen Kealey for 10th place on the UA's all-time top-10 performers' list.
The Wildcats This Season
Jan. 15--Arizona vs. Oregon State:The Arizona Wildcats began a new era under first-year head coach Bill Ryden, defeating the No. 15 Oregon State Beavers, 192.275-189.725, in their 1999 Pac-10 season home opener on Jan. 15 in McKale Center in front of a crowd of 952.
The Wildcats trailed the Beavers by .050 going into the second rotation, but Arizona quickly regained the lead after the uneven bars rotation and never looked back. Arizona went into the final rotation with a two-point advantage, and an impressive 48.225 team floor performance sealed the win for the Cats.
Arizona and Oregon State split the four events, with the Wildcats taking the uneven bars and floor events. Led by a strong group of veteran gymnasts, the meet marked the return of redshirt juniors Heidi Hornbeek and Maureen Kealey, who sat out the 1998 season following season-ending injuries. Senior All-American Kristin McDermott and sophomore Kara Fry also led the UA to the upset win over the Pac-10 powerhouse Beavers. Freshmen Brooke Stan, Randi Liljenquist and Emily Peterman also had impressive performances on the night in the their collegiate debuts.
Hornbeek capped off the night with a first-place finish on vault (9.800), and a tie for first place on bars with McDermott, both posting a 9.800. Fry grabbed the beam title with a 9.750 and vaulted to third place on floor with a 9.725. Kealey returned with a second-place finish on beam (9.725) and fourth place on bars (9.725).
Jan. 22--Arizona at Washington with Nebraska: Arizona traveled to the Pacific Northwest on Jan. 22, and although they finished in second place, with a score of 190.325, behind Pac-10 foe Washington, who scored a 193.000, Arizona marked another upset win, topping No. 8 Nebraska who finished the triangular meet with a 190.250. The Huskies took the bars, beam and floor events, while the Huskers scored a team victory on vault. The Cats scored a season-low beam mark of 45.900.
Arizona began the meet on bars with a strong performance, but the Wildcats faltered on beam, counting four subpar performances, including three falls, in the final team score. After the beam rotation, the Wildcats trailed Nebraska by three points, but they responded to the challenge and came back strong on floor with a season-high team score of 48.550. In the final rotation of the evening, Arizona regrouped and passed Nebraska--the Big 12 defending national champion--in the final standings.
Individually, redshirt junior Heidi Hornbeek grabbed second place on vault (9.625), and senior Kristin McDermott and freshman Brooke Stan tied for third place on vault (9.600). On bars, freshman Randi Liljenquist tied her personal best of 9.525, and fellow freshman Emily Peterman set a new personal best on bars with a 9.675.
Hornbeek was Arizona's top finisher on bars in fifth place (9.725), and she tied for first place on floor with a season-high score of 9.850. Hornbeek also posted a third-place finish in the all-around with a season-high 38.375--almost three points higher than her previous score of 38.125 against Oregon State.
Jan. 31--Arizona at Boise State with Cal State Fullerton: The No. 21 University of Arizona women's gymnastics beam defeated Cal State Fullerton, 188.600-184.575, in its second tri-meet of the season on Super Bowl Sunday, but the Wildcats fell to Boise State, who posted a season-high score of 192.575. Arizona had only nine gymnasts on the traveling roster, but the team won the bars event with a team score of 47.825, while Boise State captured the vault, beam and floor events.
Individually, redshirt junior Maureen Kealey grabbed third place in the all-around with a season-high 37.925, she also tied for third place on bars with a 9.700, and she scored a season-high 9.550 on vault. But the news for Kealey was her return to the vault for the first time since she broke her leg on the apparatus at last year's Utah meet on Jan. 16.
Senior Kristin McDermott--who had been down with the flu all week--did not compete in the all-around for the first time all season, but she tied for second on vault with a 9.700, matching her season-high score in the event.
Redshirt junior Heidi Hornbeek and freshman Randi Liljenquist tied for fifth place on bars (9.650), with Liljenquist scoring a personal best in the event. On floor, Liljenquist tied for fourth place with Kealey (9.575), while fellow freshman Emily Peterman landed in third place on beam (9.700--a personal best), and freshman Brooke Stan tied for second on vault (9.700--a personal best).
Sophomore Mary Reiss made her collegiate debut on floor, scoring a personal-best 9.025, and sophomore Kara Fry tied her season-high 9.525 on vault.
Arizona defeated Boise State last season, 189.200-188.375, in McKale Center on Jan. 9, 1998, and leads the series 4-2. In their previous meeting on Feb. 10, 1996, the Wildcats topped Cal State Fullerton, 191.525-191.125.
Feb. 6--Arizona at California: The University of Arizona women's gymnastics team defeated California, 192.050-190.200, on Feb. 6 in front of a crowd of 552 in Cal's Recreational Facility. Arizona posted a season-high beam score of 47.925, and the Wildcats are on the road to recovery after some problems on beam in previous weeks. Arizona captured the vault (48.100), bars (48.050) and beam (47.925) events, while Cal took the floor competition (48.125).
The Wildcats once again traveled with only nine gymnasts, but Arizona took the top spot in three of the four events and the all-around. After scoring a 48.100 on vault in the second rotation, the Wildcats held their biggest lead of the night by almost two full points. With a season-high beam score of 47.925, Arizona held on to edge California, who posted its best overall score of the season.
Individually, senior All-American Kristin McDermott was the top finisher for the Cats, taking the all-around title with a season-high score of 38.950. She also posted a first-place finish on floor (9.800), a second-place finish on bars (9.775) and a third-place finish on beam (9.775). In her single competition for the meet, redshirt junior Maureen Kealey took the top spot on bars with a season-high 9.875, and fellow All-American Heidi Hornbeek handed in a season-high first-place score of 9.900 on vault.
Freshman Randi Liljenquist also led Arizona with a personal-best score of 9.850 on beam (second place), and she finished with another personal-best score of 9.750 on bars (third place). In only her second career performance on floor, sophomore Mary Reiss scored a new career-best 9.525, and fellow sophomore Kara Fry posted a third-place finish in the all-around with a 37.775.
Feb. 12--Arizona vs. Utah: The Arizona women's gymnastics team kept the competition tight through four rotations in its head-to-head match up with third-ranked Utah on Feb. 12, posting a season-high team score of 193.250, but it wasn't enough to defeat the Utes, who edged the Cats by only four tenths of a point, with a 193.625. After three weeks on the road, the Wildcats returned to the sweet confines of the McKale Center and handed in its best overall team performance of the season, registering season-high team scores on vault (48.400), bars (48.575) and floor (49.150) in front of a crowd of 1,297.
The Wildcats finished strong on vault and bars, but during the third rotation, they once again experienced problems on beam, counting two falls. Arizona trailed Utah by almost two points entering the final rotation, but the Cats came back to win the floor event, 49.150-48.450, and tied the fourth-highest floor score in UA gymnastics history. Utah took the vault (48.700), bars (48.750) and beam (47.725) events, while the Cats turned in a season-high 49.150 mark on floor to steal the event from the Utes.
Individually, redshirt junior Heidi Hornbeek landed in first place on vault with a 9.875, and freshman Randi Liljenquist tied for second place on bars with a new personal-best score of 9.775. Senior Kristin McDermott and redshirt junior Maureen Kealey tied for fourth place on bars with a 9.750, and although the team had its problems on beam, freshman Emily Peterman finished in third place with a 9.625.
The Wildcats finished the meet with impressive performances on floor, led by McDermott who tied with Utah's Angie Leonard for the floor title and matched her personal-best score of 9.900. Freshman sensation Brooke Stan scored a personal-best 9.850 and landed in third place on floor, and in the all-around, McDermott was Arizona's top finisher in fourth place with a 38.575.
Sophomore Kara Fry posted four season-high scores: vault (9.575), bars (9.575), floor (9.750) and all-around (38.425). Junior Gretchen Diaz posted a new season-high 9.550 on vault, Kealey recorded a season-high 9.825 on floor, and McDermott had a season-high 9.725 on vault.
Utah swept the top spots on bars, beam and floor. Angie Leonard won the bars title with a 9.850 and tied with McDermott on floor with a 9.900, and Shannon Bowles took beam honors with a 9.850. Utah also grabbed the top-three spots in the all-around, with Theresa Wolf in first place (38.925), Bowles in second (38.775), and Leonard in third (38.650).
Utah now leads the 23-year-old series with Arizona, 43-0, and the Utes are 7-0 in Tucson.
Feb. 20--Arizona at UCLA Invitational: The Cats traveled to the "City of Angels" to compete in the 22nd annual UCLA Invitational, and although the Wildcats fell to the No. 11 UCLA Bruins, 194.275-192.575, they finished in second place, topping the 13th-ranked Florida Gators (190.475) and the Cal State Fullerton Titans (187.375), in UCLA's Pauley Pavilion.
UCLA, who won its eighth consecutive and 13th overall title, took three of the four events, and the Bruins, who never trailed in the meet, posted a season-high score of 48.975 on vault. Arizona scored its third team upset of the season with its win over Florida, and the Cats posted the top score on floor, with a 48.475, and their overall team score of 192.575 is currently the team's third-highest score of the season.
Individually, redshirt junior Heidi Hornbeek posted a season-high score of 38.975 in the all-around, finishing in third place, and she also tied for third place on floor, with a 9.775. On beam, freshman Randi Liljenquist and sophomore Kara Fry tied for third place (9.725), and Maureen Kealey was Arizona's highest finisher on bars in fourth place (9.775).
Junior Kiernan Andrews posted a season-high 9.625 on vault, and she also handed in a season-high and personal-best score of 9.200 on beam. For the second week in a row, Fry recorded a season-high on bars (9.600), and Kealey tied her season-high score on vault (9.550).
Feb. 26--Arizona vs. Stanford: The Arizona women's gymnastics team upset the ninth-ranked Stanford Cardinal, 194.050-193.425, on Feb. 26 in front of a crowd of 1,058, in the McKale Center. Arizona's meet score of 194.050 was a season-high total, and it tied the No. 7 mark on the UA's all-time top-10 performance list. The Wildcats also posted season-high scores of 48.650 on bars and a 48.775 on beam against its seventh top-25 opponent of the season, and they swept the top-three spots on bars.
Arizona trailed by almost one point after the first rotation, but the Cats came back in full force to win the bars and beam events in its fourth upset win of the season, taking the bars, beam and floor events. The Cats led, 96.825-96.450, following the second rotation, and they never looked back. Stanford--the defending Pac-10 Champions--took the vault (48.200) and floor (48.575) events.
Individually, redshirt junior Maureen Kealey led the way for the Cats, grabbing the all-around title, with a season-high score of 39.050. Kealey tied for second place on vault, with a season-high 9.675, and she landed in second on bars, with a 9.775. She also finished in the fourth spot on beam, with a season-high 9.800, and she was Arizona's top finisher on floor in third place, with a 9.800. Sophomore Kara Fry continued to impress, posting three season-high scores on bars (9.825), beam (9.825) and in the all-around (38.650). Fry finished in sixth place on bars, tied for fourth place on beam, and she rounded out the all-around field in fifth place.
March 6--Arizona at Michigan: The University of Arizona women's gymnastics team fell to the sixth-ranked Michigan Wolverines, 197.025-193.750, in front of a crowd of 1,032, in Michigan's Cliff Keen Arena. The Cats, who hit the road for the fifth time in eight meets, faced their eighth top-25 opponent of the season, and the Wolverines recorded their highest team score of the season.
Arizona's team score of 193.750 was the third-highest mark of the season, and it also recorded two season-high scores on bars and beam. The Cats scored a 49.075 on bars, which ties for sixth place on the UA's all-time top-ten performance list, and they also scored a 48.950 on beam to record the fifth-highest score in UA gymnastics history.
Individually, redshirt junior Maureen Kealey led the way for the Wildcats with an impressive second-place finish in the all-around, with a season-high and new career-best score of 39.400. With her personal-best score in the all-around, Kealey moved into the third spot on the UA's all-time top-ten all-around performance list. She also tied her season-high score of 9.675 on vault, and she tied for second place on bars with a season-high 9.925. Kealey grabbed the beam title with a new season-high and career-best score of 9.900, and she tied for second on floor with a season-high score of 9.900. She is now tied for fifth place on bars, tied for sixth on beam, and she is tied for fourth place on floor on the UA's all-time top-ten performance list.
March 12--Arizona vs. Oklahoma: The University of Arizona women's gymnastics team delivered yet another upset--its fifth of the season--topping the 17th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners (14-4), 195.575-194.625, on March 12 in front of a crowd of 648, in the McKale Center. The Cats faced their ninth top-25 opponent of the season, and they swept all four events for the first time in 1999.
Arizona never trailed Oklahoma, and the UA's team score of 195.575 is a season-high score, and it ranks as the No. 3 score on the UA's all-time top-10 performance list. The Wildcats took all four events, and an Arizona gymnast grabbed the top spot in all four events and the all-around. On vault, Arizona scored a season-high 48.575, and it also registered a new season-high 49.200 on bars, matching the fourth-highest score in UA gymnastics history.
Individually, senior Kristin McDermott led the Arizona charge, taking the all-around crown with a new career-best score of 39.325. McDermott turned in a new career-best 9.850 on vault, and she tied for first place in the event along with redshirt junior Heidi Hornbeek. McDermott landed in third place on beam (9.800), tied for third place on floor (9.850), and she tied her season-high score of 9.825 on bars. Hornbeek finished in first place on bars, posting a season-high score of 9.875.
Redshirt junior Maureen Kealey tied her season-high 9.900 on floor, taking the top spot in the event, and she finished in third place on bars (9.850) and vaulted to a second-place finish in the all-around (39.225). Freshman Randi Liljenquist tied her career-best 9.850 on beam, taking the beam title, and she set new career-best scores on bars (9.825) and floor (9.850).
After suffering an elbow injury in the first meet of the season against Oregon State during uneven bars warm ups, sophomore Heather Straccia returned to the floor lineup, scoring a new career-best 9.850. Junior Gretchen Diaz scored a new season-high score of 9.600 on vault, while junior Lisa Heckel set a new career-best score of 9.625 on bars in only her second collegiate meet. Sophomore Kara Fry tied her season-high score of 9.575 on vault, and she also matched her season-high score of 9.825 on bars.
March 20--Arizona at Pac-10 Championships: Arizona landed in an impressive fourth-place tie with No. 15 Stanford at the Pac-10 Championships, hosted by Oregon State, where the Cats scored a 195.150. The Wildcats' score is the second-highest team mark of the season, and it moved into the No. 7 position on the UA's all-time top-10 performance list. The UA also scored a season-high 49.025 on vault, and the mark matches the fifth-highest score in UA gymnastics history. Arizona's score of 49.025 on bars is the team's third-highest score this season, and ties for the No. 9 position on the all-time top-10 list. The UA improved upon its 1998 performance when the Cats scored a 192.800 for a sixth-place conference finish.
UCLA captured its eighth Pac-10 crown with a score 197.775, and Oregon State finished in second place with a score of 197.400. Arizona State (196.025) landed in third place, and Arizona tied with the defending Pac-10 Champion Stanford, while Washington (194.425) and California (192.475) rounded out the field.
Individually, redshirt junior Heidi Hornbeek--Arizona's top finisher--landed in a tie for third place on vault with a score of 9.900 to tie her season-high mark in the event. She also set a new season high on floor (9.925) and tied for seventh place, and she scored another season high in the all-around (39.075).
Senior Kristin McDermott tied her season-high score on vault (9.850), while junior Gretchen Diaz set a new season-high score (9.700) in the event. Sophomore Kara Fry also set a new season high on vault (9.675) and tied her current season high on bars (9.825). Junior Lisa Heckel recorded a new career best of 9.675 on bars, and freshman sensation Brooke Stan scored a career-best 9.775 on vault.
On bars, McDermott and Hornbeek tied for 14th place (9.850), and redshirt junior Maureen Kealey and McDermott tied for 14th place on beam (9.750). In the all-around, McDermott led the Arizona charge with a sixth-place finish (39.250), Kealey and Hornbeek tied for ninth place (39.075), and Fry vaulted to a 15th-place finish.
March 26--Arizona vs. Arizona State: The University of Arizona women's gymnastics team topped seventh-ranked Arizona State, 196.300-195.950, in its final home meet of the season on March 26 in front of a crowd of 1,175, in the McKale Center. Arizona set a new team record with its season-high team score of 196.300, which is the highest mark in UA gymnastics history, moving ahead of the previous No. 1 score of 196.125.
The Cats, who never trailed ASU throughout the meet, led the Sun Devils, 48.700-48.375, after the first rotation, and they never looked back. The UA set new season high scores on bars (49.375) and beam (49.175), and the bars score is now the third-highest score in UA history, while the beam score ties the current No. 1 score on the all-time top-10 performance list. The two teams split the events, with Arizona taking vault (48.700) and bars (49.375) and Arizona State grabbing beam (49.450) and floor (49.475).
Arizona honored its senior duo of Lisha Stone and All-American Kristin McDermott, and the Cats concluded the regular season in style. Individually, McDermott turned in a stellar performance in the all-around, setting a new career-best score of 39.525. She also tied for first place on vault with teammate Heidi Hornbeek (9.850) and tied her career best in the event. McDermott set a new season-high 9.900 on bars, landing in a three-way tie for second place, she set a season-high 9.875 on beam, and she ended the meet with a third-place finish on floor, matching her season-high 9.900 in the event.
Hornbeek registered a season-high 9.925 on bars for her eighth first-place title this season, and she finished in second place in the all-around with another season-high score of 39.375. Redshirt junior Maureen Kealey tied for second place on bars, with a 9.900, while sophomore Kara Fry posted two season-high scores on bars (9.850) and in the all-around (39.000). Freshman Randi Liljenquist scored a career-best 9.875 on beam and tied her career-best 9.850 on floor, and freshman Brooke Stan scored a career-best 9.700 on beam.