Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Cats are Colorado Bound for Regionals
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: March 29, 2011
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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March 29, 2011

What's Up:

The No. 20 ranked Cats head to Denver, Colo. to compete in the 2011 NCAA Regional Championships. The meet is set to take place at 4 p.m. MST on Saturday, April 2. Arizona is seeded fifth in the competition, behind No. 1 Florida, No. 12 Arkansas, No. 13 Boise State, and No. 19 Denver. The Wildcats will also be taking on No. 27 BYU for the fourth time this season.

This regional competition will be one of the toughest in the nation, as each team is loaded with high RQS scores and a lot of talent.

Florida is a great team – they are ranked first in the nation for a reason. I feel like all of the teams are in the same boat; if anyone makes even the slightest error, the results will be up in the air,” head coach Bill Ryden said. “I think if we can put out what we are capable of, we will be as strong as anyone there. Even though we are in one of the tougher regions, we’re looking forward to it.”

Arizona is slated to begin the meet on a bye, and then rotate to bars. This rotation order is advantageous to the Cats, as it enables them to end on one of their strongest events: vault.

“I feel like we are in a good spot for this week’s competition as long as our physical condition – both illness and injury wise – cooperates,” Ryden said.

One of Arizona’s biggest question marks in that regard is sophomore Molly Quirk. Quirk has been a tremendous contributor to the team in her two years of competition. After performing a flawless beam routine at the Pac-10 Championships, however, Quirk slipped a foot on her dismount and had to be pulled from the meet due to a sprained knee and ankle.

“Sprains take a long time to heal. I have to judge whether it is more beneficial to the team to have Molly compete at less than 100 % vs. have someone else compete at 100%. This is definitely the big dilemma of the week,” Ryden said.

Someone who may be able to pick up that slack is junior Deanna Graham. As a now two-time All Pac-10 First Team All-Around competitor, Graham may be just what the Cats need to score this meet.

“When Deanna is on, she is one of the best gymnasts in the country. She’s motivated to be this way, and she puts in a huge amount of heart and effort. In practice she’s been doing really well, so we will see how it goes this weekend,” Ryden said.

Another consistent contributor to the team is junior Katie Matusik. Matusik has been this year’s team beam leader, posting a high score of 9.925 on the event, as well as numerous other scores at or above 9.800.

“Katie is having a great year. It is just a testament to her hard work and perseverance. I’m sure she will have a great meet. There is no doubt she is willing to do whatever is necessary to help the team be the best we can be,” Ryden said.

The team has had successful practices in recent days, and if their performance in competition is anything like this past week in the gym they should be set for success at the championships.

“One thing we want is to be able to walk away and be satisfied that we did our best. I think we should be very capable of doing that this weekend,” Ryden said.

Last Week:

Arizona finished fifth overall at the Pac-10 Championships with a total score of 195.475. Oregon State won the meet with a 197.200, UCLA took second with a 196.750, Washington earned third posting a 196.025, and Stanford placed fourth with a 195.975. Rounding out the meet were California (191.575) and Arizona State (190.450).

Highlights of the meet included Matusik posting her third score of 9.90 (or better) on balance beam, senior Miranda Russell earning third on bars with a 9.850, and a new season high vault score of 49.200.

Upon the completion of the meet, Arizona jumped in the rankings from No. 24 to No. 20 due to the strong score it earned.


 Cats in the Pac:

Three Cats have been named to the All-Pac 10 Conference teams. Graham and Cristello were named to the first team for all-around competition, and Matusik earned the first place position on the first beam team.


 Other conference recognitions this season: Katie Matusik (Special Performance of the Week Feb. 21 - 27) Deanna Graham  (Gymnast of the Week Feb. 7 – 13, and Mar. 7-13), Aubree Cristello(Gymnast of the Week Jan. 31-Feb.6), and Miranda Russell (Special Performance of the Week Jan. 24-30).

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!

2010 Review:

The Wildcats completed the 2010 season with an overall record of 12-12 and were able to make their 24th consecutive NCAA post-season appearance. Finishing fourth at the Pac-10 Championships, and third at the NCAA Regional Championships, Arizona completed the season ranked No. 20 in the nation. Then sophomore  Deanna Graham stepped up throughout the season to be a major contributor to the team, as well as the lone Wildcat to qualify for the NCAA National Championships. Graham also earned 1st team All-Conference Honors in the all-around for her performances.

Other break out performances included then freshmen  Aubree Cristello and Molly Quirk.

Cristello earned her place as one of the Wildcats' most consistent gymnasts; competing 12 out of 13 meets in the all-around, and hitting 49 of 51 total routines. Cristello also earned Pac-10 1st team All-Conference Honors for the all-around, with a career best score of 39.175.

Quirk rose to the challenge of becoming beam star, earning a score of 9.90 against Washington, and posting seven scores of 9.80 or above on the event. Hitting 51 of 52 routines competed as well as a high all-around score of 39.100, Quirk was yet another Wildcat to be honored with a spot on the Pac-10 All-Conference 1st team.

Look Out for New GymCats:

Arizona added a number of new faces this season, including  Barbara Donaldson out of Bakersfield, Calif., Chelsea Perna hailing from Middletown, Del., Phoenix native Shana Sangston, Ali Stakem from Gaithersburg, Md., and  Jordan Williams from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

Pre-season Rankings:

The Arizona Gymcats head into the season ranked No. 19 in the 2010 Women's Pre-Season Coaches poll. They are one of six Pac-10 schools to be rated. The others include No. 1 UCLA, No. 6 Stanford, No. 8 Oregon State, No. 21 Washington, and No. 25 Arizona State.

Stacked Schedule:

Arizona faces a stacked schedule this season, competing against six schools ranked in the pre-season poll. This includes some tough meets early on, including opening the season against a powerfully ranked Pac-10, and meeting up with these teams to conclude the regular season in the Pac-10 Championships. Other ranked meets include facing No. 25 Arizona State early on in the season, and a dual meet against No. 18 Boise State. The Gymcats must also go head to head with No. 1 UCLA, and No. 6 Stanford.

Ryden's Record:

Head Coach Bill Ryden earned a total record of 175-171-3 after the Pac-10 Championships.

What's Coming Up:

The Wildcats have a chance to earn a spot at the NCAA National Championships, depending on their performance this week at the NCAA Regional Championships.



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