Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Gymnastics to Take on Two Top Teams
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: March 01, 2011
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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March 1, 2011

What's Up:

The No. 23 Arizona Women's Gymnastics team heads back to Los Angeles for the second time this season to compete in a tri-meet against No. 8 UCLA and No. 6 Georgia. The meet will take place at Pauley Pavillion on Sunday, March 6 at 2:00 p.m.

The Wildcats saw UCLA in their first meet of the season, once again at UCLA. The Bruins had a strong showing in their home opening meet, posting a team total of 195.925 to take second place. The Cats took fourth with a score of 193.825.

Last Week:

 According to head coach Bill Ryden, Arizona "got the egg off its face" last week, competing against BYU for the second time this season, and this time coming out with a victory. Ryden was comparing last week's meet to the second meet of the season - a tri-meet at Utah State against BYU in which they posted a team total of 192.750.

This meet was far from the previous, with the Cats posting a 195.350 to defeat BYU with a 195.150.

Despite a rough floor rotation (48.200), Arizona made a strong showing on the other three events, redeeming itself from its last trip to Utah.

Highlights for the team included two team scores above 49 (vault with a 49.025 and beam with a 49.200) and one nearly there (bars with a 48.925).

Sophomore Molly Quirk returned to her true form in the all-around, capturing first place with a total of 39.075. Other all-around competitors were sophomore Aubree Cristello (39.000) and Deanna Graham (38.875).


Beam Balanced to Win:

The Wildcats' main highlight of the meet against BYU was the beam rotation. Going into the last event, the Cats were behind BYU by 0.3. Rather than let this get them down, the team rallied and had their best beam performance of the season, posting a season high of 49.200 to pull them ahead to victory.

Nearly Perfect Club:

Arizona has two more members to add to the nearly perfect club: juniors Deanna Graham and Katie Matusik.

This past week they were two of the main contributors to the team's outstanding beam total, both posting scores of 9.90 or better.

Graham earned a score of 9.90, marking her tenth career score of 9.90 or better. This season alone Graham has posted two scores of 9.90: one on floor at the Pac-10 Showcase, and the second this last weekend. Graham's nearly perfect scores also stretch across three events: vault, floor, and now beam.

Matusik posted a new career high 9.925 to wrap up the lineup, and win the meet. This is Matusik's second score of 9.90 or better on the event this season; she earned a score of 9.90 against the University of Illinois-Chicago.

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!

Scouting the Opposition:

No. 8 UCLA: Last week the Bruins dominated the homefront, defeating No. 21 Minnesota and No.12 Denver in the John Wooden Challenge (196.65 to 194.475 and 193.85 respectively). Junior Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs posted an all-around total of 39.5 to win three events (vault, beam, and floor). In second was Brittani McCullough with a 39.275.


No. 6 Georgia: Despite a loss last week to No. 5 Alabama, then ranked No. 4 Georgia posted a new season team high score of 197.225. Upon the conclusion of the meet, Georgia has now scored 49's on each apparatus for three consecutive meets. This meet, the Gym Dogs posted a 49.350 on vault, a 49.325 on bars, a 49.225 on beam, and a 49.425 on floor.


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 170-165-3 after the win in Utah.

What's Coming Up:

 Arizona hosts its last home meet of the season, honoring senior Miranda Russell and playing host to TWU, New Hampshire, and BYU.



Bear Down Challenge Gymnastics