Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Arizona Gymnastics to Host No. 4 Utah in First Home Meet Friday
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: June 22, 2004
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    What's Coming Up - After a three-meet road swing, the Arizona women's gymnastics team (2-7, 0-2 Pac-10) returns to the confines of McKale Center this week... The Wildcats are set to battle the fourth-ranked Utah Utes (2-1) in Arizona's season home-opener on Friday, Jan. 26, at 7:30 p.m. (MST)... Arizona is looking for its first win over Utah in school history... This week's competition with Utah marks Arizona's first dual meet of the season... UA opened the year on the road for the first three weeks of the season and competed in three straight quadrangular meets... Utah leads the series with Arizona, 44-0... The Utes are 6-0 in Tucson and 14-0 in regular season competitions against the Wildcats.

    Last weekend, Arizona competed in two back-to-back quad meets... On Friday, the Wildcats finished in fourth place at the San Jose State meet with a score of 190.775... Two days later, UA posted a 193.350 and ended the California meet in fourth place... Arizona scored two season-high marks on beam (48.800) and floor (49.075) in the California meet... UA had strong performances from senior Kara Fry, a 1998 All-Pac-10 selection, junior All-American Randi Liljenquist and freshman Aimee Estella... Fry won the bars and all-around events in the San Jose State meet, while Liljenqiust took top honors on beam... Liljenquist also won the floor event in the California meet, and Estella was Arizona's top finisher on vault in fourth place.


    Ryden's Weekly Analysis - "We competed in three meets in eight days (to open the season), and we just didn't get the job done on Friday and Sunday. Bars was our big breakdown last weekend, so we have been working this week to rectify some of our bars problems. Despite the problems we had on bars, we have a really good team, and I think we are going to keep improving as the season progresses."

    "Utah is a great program, and I think that we can be competitive with them this week. Utah has great athletes, and it is a model program for the entire country. We always want to go up against the best, and this week is going to be a big test for the team."

    Arizona's Last Time Out - The University of Arizona women's gymnastics team finished in fourth place with a score of 193.350 at a quadrangular meet hosted by the California Golden Bears on Jan. 21. The No. 13-ranked Oklahoma Sooners finished first (195.300), No. 24 California landed in second (195.175), and the Utah State Aggies ended the meet in third (194.450). Arizona dropped to 2-7 on the season and 0-2 in the Pac-10 Conference, while California improved to 5-4 overall and 2-1 in the conference. Oklahoma upped its overall record to 6-1, and Utah State ended the meet with a 1-3 overall record.

    Arizona set two season-high team scores on beam (48.800) and floor (49.075), and the Wildcats finished second in both the beam and floor team events. Nine Wildcat gymnasts - Nikki Beyschau, Aimee Estella, Nicci Filchner, Kara Fry, Amanda Goins, Sheehan Lemley, Randi Liljenquist, Andi McCabe and Heather Straccia - each set new season-high and career-high marks. California topped the field on vault and tied for first on bars with Oklahoma. Utah State won the team beam event, while Oklahoma won the team floor event.

    Individually for the Wildcats, senior Kara Fry finished second in the all-around, as she set a season-high 39.300 in the event. Fry set a new career-high 9.750 on vault and tied for fifth on bars with a new season-high 9.825. She also tied for third on floor with a season-high 9.875, and she tied a season-high 9.850 on beam, finishing in a tie for fifth place. Junior All-American Randi Liljenquist tied for first-place honors on floor after setting a season-high 9.900 in the event. Liljenquist tied a season-high 9.750 on vault, and she finished in seventh place in both the beam (9.825) and all-around (38.700) events.

    Pacing the Arizona lineup on vault, freshman Aimee Estella tied for fourth place and tied a career-high 9.800 in the event. Estella also set a new career-high 9.750 on beam and tied for 10th place. Senior Heather Straccia tied a career-high 9.850 on floor and tied for sixth in the event. Sophomore Nikki Beyschau set a new season-high 9.700 on vault and scored a season-high 9.625 in her first floor performance of the season.

    Freshman Sheehan Lemley scored a new career-high 9.725 on beam. Freshman Amanda Goins made her official collegiate debut in the meet and scored a career-high 9.575 on vault. Freshman Andi McCabe set a new career-high 9.700 on floor in her only event of the meet. Junior Nicci Filchner posted a new season-high 9.725 on bars.

    Scouting Utah - The No. 4 Utah Utes (2-1) enter this week's meet on the final leg of a three-meet road swing... Utah slipped from No. 1 to No. 4 this week in the national rankings after falling to top-ranked UCLA, 197.500-195.700, on Jan. 21... The 2001 Ute squad boasts four returning All-Americans - Kim Allan, Shannon Bowles, Theresa Kulikowski and Deidra Graham... Junior Deidra Graham is Utah's sole all-arounder so far this season, while Kulikowski and Bowles are set to compete in two and three events respectively: Kulikowski on bars and beam and Bowles on bars, beam and floor... Kulikowski leads the squad with a team-best four individual event titles this season... Head coach Greg Marsden (Central Arkansas, '72) is in his 26th year at the helm of the Utah program and holds a 723-108-3 school and career record.

    Wildcats in the Rankings - After beginning the season ranked No. 20 in the preseason coaches' poll, Arizona has since dropped out of the top-25 rankings... This week, 11 of Arizona's 2001 opponents - UCLA, Utah, Stanford, Oklahoma, California, Oregon State, Minnesota, Utah State, Denver, New Hampshire and Arizona State - are ranked in the Jan. 22 national gymnastics poll... UA is ranked No. 18 nationally on vault and tied for No. 17 on floor... Senior Mary Reiss - the only Wildcat gymnast listed in this week's rankings - is tied for No. 21 on floor... The Wildcats entered the 2001 season ranked No. 20 in the national preseason coaches' poll... Arizona closed out the 2000 season ranked No. 20 in the nation after the team finished fourth at the NCAA regional meet on April 7, 2000... In terms of schedule strength, 10 of Arizona's 2001 opponents were ranked in the preseason coaches' poll... Six Pac-10 teams - UCLA (1), Stanford (7), Arizona State (11), Oregon State (12), Washington (16) and Arizona (20) - were ranked in the preseason poll... Women's gymnastics rankings are posted every Monday at:

    Cat Scratches - Arizona head coach Bill Ryden is in his third year at the helm of the program (11th overall at Arizona) and holds a 23-36-1 career and school record... Arizona notched two road victories after the first meet of the 2001 season... UA is 1-5 in neutral contests and 1-2 in away meets... Six freshman have competed in the first three meets of the season... So far this season, 13 Wildcat gymnasts have each set or tied season-high and career-high marks after only three meets... Senior Kara Fry leads the squad with three individual event titles, while junior Randi Liljenquist has three first-place finishes, and freshman Aimee Estella has a vault title... Fry has nine top-five event finishes, while Liljenquist has eight top-five finishes... Estella has two top-five finishes... Seniors Heather Straccia and Mary Reiss, sophomore Nikki Beyschau and freshman Cori Messina each have one top-five finish entering this weekend's meet.

    A Look Ahead - Arizona closes out its two-meet homestand next weekend when the Wildcats host the Oregon State Beavers and the Denver Pioneers on Friday, Feb. 2, at 7:30 p.m., in McKale Center... The Wildcats then hit the road to the "City of Angels" to compete in their fourth quad meet of the season... Arizona will compete against UCLA, Washington and Cal State Fullerton on Sunday, Feb. 11, at 2 p.m. PST.

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