Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Senior Spotlight: Success and Contribution from an Entire Class
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: March 16, 2012
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March 16, 2012

TUCSON, Ariz. – Tonight’s women’s gymnastics competition marks a bittersweet occasion, as this quad meet will be the last time four of Arizona’s strongest gymnasts will be competing in the McKale Center. Throughout their careers, seniors Rebecca Cardenas, Deanna Graham, Britnie Jones, and Katie Matusik have made a huge contribution to the Wildcat team, competing a total of 351 routines and amassing a grand total of 3,841.9 points to date.

Individually, these gymnasts have impressive records as well and will each leave their own void in the lineup next year.

The absence of Rebecca Cardenas will be felt on bars and floor, as the Hawaii native was one of the main contributors on these events. During her three year career at Arizona, Cardenas competed in a total of 34 meets, putting up 69 routines and tallying a current cumulative score of 792.525 points. Known for her explosive tumbling and incredibly clean lines, so far Cardenas has posted 23 scores of 9.8 or better, 14 scores of 9.825 or better, six scores of 9.85 or better, three scores of 9.875 or better, and two scores of 9.9 or better, with the highest score being a 9.925 on floor.

“Becca has always exhibited a quiet leadership through example. She always has a smile on her face, and if you give her a correction she will just smile, accept it, and try harder. From a coaching standpoint that’s nice to have. We’re going to miss her athleticism, her beautiful lines, and her personality. Despite how soft spoken she is, she has a huge presence on this team,” head coach Bill Ryden said.

Though vault and floor were her two strongest events, it is hard to determine where Deanna Graham will be most missed, as the all-arounder tallied 1,361.825 points in the 38 meets she competed. Graham has posted 61 scores of 9.80 or better, 48 scores of 9.825 or better, 37 scores of 9.850 or better, 21 scores of 9.875 or better and 13 scores of 9.90 or better, with four scores of 9.925. Of the 19 all-around scores she posted, the Tucson native earned eight scores of 39.00 or better, with her career high an impressive 39.400.

“Deanna is a local kid who became a national level athlete. She truly has made a name for herself within the sport of gymnastics, all while doing it for the school she watched growing up. Deanna has been one of our strongest all-around athletes – it’s hard to even describe the hole left by a kid who has put up over thirteen hundred some odd points throughout her career,” Ryden said.

Despite battling her body all four years of competition, Arizona legacy Britnie Jones has posted 743.25 points via 44 meets, putting up 74 routines for the Cats thus far. With 20 scores of 9.800 or better, 13 scores of 9.825 or better, seven scores of 9.850 or better, two scores of 9.875 and one 9.90, Jones is the perfect example of not giving up.

“Britnie Jones is certainly a special gymnast. She is a very talented athlete who has been dealing with injuries since the day she arrived, and really has done everything in her power to overcome it, and has done it with a smile on her face and a positive attitude. I certainly appreciate her tenacity to not give up – she could’ve given up so many times, and the doctors would’ve let her. She just didn’t want to do it, and she truly is a huge asset to this team,” Ryden said.

Another huge asset to the team has been Katie Matusik. Though she came into her freshman year with a shoulder issue, and dealt with an ankle injury her sophomore year the Texas native wanted nothing more to contribute. Over the course of her 40 meets and 85 routines put up, Matusik has done nothing but contribute, totalling 944.3 career points so far. Of these points, 38 have been scores of 9.800 or better, 26 have been 9.825 or better, 16 have been 9.850 or better, 11 have been 9.875 or better, and six have been 9.90 or better, with one score of 9.925. Matusik has also been one of Arizona’s most consistent gymnasts – only missing four routines in her entire career.

“Katie has never given up. Katie has transformed herself into one of the best gymnasts in the country, and truly is a joy to watch. Katie puts the ‘artistic’ into artistic gymnastics and not a lot of gymnasts can actually do that. I don’t know what I will miss more though: her gymnastics, or her. She is such a special person giving everything she can to the team, and it is mind boggling to think of all of the things she has done for us.”

As a whole, the class has made a huge impact and will leave an enormous void upon graduation.

“I can’t describe the impact this class has made on the program. This class from start to bottom produced. This class from beginning to end made us better. It is not like it was a class that only had a few successes or only one person contributed – it was everyone.” Ryden said, “When you think about how much they are competing this year and the scores they are putting up, as well as what they have done since they’ve arrived – every one of these girls has competed right from the get-go of their freshman year, and has competed right up until the end of their senior year. That is definitely not the norm. Typically that happens for people, but it is incredibly rare when you are talking about an entire class. It’s going to be hard to describe the void left with the absence of these athletes.”

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