April 6, 2012
The No. 16 Arizona women's gymnastics team is having one of its best seasons in several years, and should make a strong showing at tomorrow's NCAA Regional Championships in Seattle. The team appears to have caught its stride, and is peaking with perfect timing - setting the Cats up for a real chance to overcome a No. 3 seed and earn a berth at the NCAA National Championships. With an RQS score of 196.020 and a season high 196.525, the Cats have a shot at a great start to the postseason.
Arizona is set to start the night on bars; a strong event for the Wildcats this season. The bar team has proven itself to be one of the most consistent in years, contributing to a season high total of 49.225 (in the last home meet of the season) and six team totals of 49.000 or better. As a whole, the entire bar team has been incredibly successful, bolstering a No. 15 ranking thanks to 54 scores of 9.700 or better; 38 of those scores being 9.800 or better. In fact, the Cats have had two meets where the lowest score counted on the event were 9.800 (vs. BYU) and 9.825 (vs. AFA, Bridgeport, and Utah State).
The Wildcats' second event of the night will be beam. According to head coach Bill Ryden, the team likes to compete beam the hard way - having success despite at least one person falling. A No. 14 national ranking proves how dangerous this team is regardless of this fact. The team holds an RQS score of 48.995 and a high score of 49.225 averages a 48.827 on the event.
One Wildcat to watch is senior Katie Matusik, who has now earned four nearly perfect scores of 9.90 (one of them being last week at the Pac-12 Championships) and was named first-team all-Pac-12 for the event. Another hard hitter in the beam lineup is junior Molly Quirk, who also posted a 9.90 in the conference championships.
Overall, the team has earned nine scores of 9.90 or better on the event; with seven of them coming from junior Aubree Cristello. Coming into the post season, the N.Y. native has a ranking of No. 9 and an RQS score of 9.905 for the event. Near the end of the lineup, Cristello can be expected to make some waves on floor for the Cats.
After floor, the Cats will wrap up the competition on vault - an event where the lineup is only determined in the three minute touch before competition. Arizona has eight legitimate vaulters; a blessing and a curse for Ryden. A blessing in the fact that depth is something most teams envy, trying to determine the lineup becomes a difficult and exciting thing for the coaching staff. One vaulter who will be in the lineup for sure though, is Cristello. Cristello has a posted two scores of 9.90 on the event this season, and is No. 43 in the nation. Also with a top 100 vault ranking is No. 88 sophomore Jordan Williams. Williams bolsters a career high 9.875, and has posted seven scores of 9.825 this season.
Overall, the NCAA Regional Championships are a huge opportunity for the Wildcats. If Arizona can hit its routines and stay focused on the little details, it has the talent and potential to make a huge dent this weekend - potentially overtaking either the No. 1 seed Alabama, or the No. 2 seed LSU to earn a berth to the NCAA National Championships.