TUCSON, Ariz. ?- Arizona gymnastics coach Bill Ryden today announced the finalized schedule for the upcoming 2006 season. Two dates have been changed from the initial schedule.
“Once again, we have one of the toughest schedules in the country,” Ryden said. “Our fans will certainly get to see a very high level of gymnastics each and every week.”
Arizona will face 12 opponents that finished in the Top 25 last season, including national champion Georgia, national runner-up Alabama and defending Pac-10 Champion UCLA.
The Wildcats open the season on the road for the sixth consecutive season when they participate in the Cancun Gymnastics Classic on Jan. 6, 2006. Arizona will compete against six other highly-regarded opponents, including Denver, Georgia, North Carolina State, Oklahoma, Stanford and Washington.
The Wildcats will remain on the road for two more weeks as they travel to State College, Pa., on Saturday, Jan. 14, to square off with Penn State and Alabama, and then return to the state of Arizona to face rival Arizona State on Sunday, Jan. 22. Both meets have been changed from the original schedule.
Tucsonan’s first chance to see the Wildcats in action at McKale Center will be on Jan. 27, as they host California. Pac-10 competition will continue the following week as Washington visits the desert on Feb. 3.
The heart of the home schedule gets underway on Feb. 24 and March 3 as the Wildcats host UCLA and Florida in a pair of dual-meets. The Bruins and Gators finished fourth and seventh in the nation last season, respectively.
Arizona returns seven gymnasts from last year’s team, including one senior, two juniors, and four sophomores. The Wildcats welcome in seven new freshmen to the club.
“Our conference is always one of the toughest in the nation,” Ryden said. “But this year we again have a very impressive non-conference schedule. It will certainly test our young and inexperienced gymnasts very quickly. They will learn what Division I gymnastics is all about.”
The Wildcats, who placed second at the Pac-10 Championships last March en route to their 19th-consecutive NCAA Regional appearance, finished 2005 ranked No. 19 with a 24-11 record.