Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Gymnastics Takes Fifth at NCAA Regional Championships
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: April 02, 2011
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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April 2, 2011


DENVER, Colo. - The Arizona Women's Gymnastics team made a strong showing at the 2011 NCAA Regional Championships, earning a total score of 195.400 to take fifth place. In first was Arkansas, with a 196.550, second place went to Florida with a 196.425, and Boise State took third with a 196.400. Denver earned fourth with a 195.625, and Brigham Young University posted a 194.650 to take sixth.

Of the Denver Regional, Arkansas and Florida will be moving forwards to compete at the NCAA National Championships.

"Unfortunately tonight was just an example of what we've been doing all year; three good events and one we wish we could have back. Once again it switched events on us," head coach Bill Ryden said about the overall meet.

The team started the meet on bars, totaling a 48.850. Sophomore Aubree Cristello led the Cats off, posting a score of 9.600. Following her were junior Britnie Jones, with a 9.675, and sophomore Molly Quirk, with a 9.750.  Junior Deanna Graham stuck her landing for a 9.775, then senior Miranda Russell earned a 9.850 with a stuck landing, and junior Katie Matusik concluded the event with yet another stuck landing for a score of 9.800 (tying her career high).

"I went into bars with the same mentality as Pac-10's. We warmed up seven people, and I called Katie up at the last minute based on performances before her. How much can you say about a kid who can respond like that? She will do absolutely everything she can to help the team, and that was absolutely the best bar routine of Katie Matusik's career," Ryden said.

Upon the conclusion of the first event, the Wildcats were placed fifth overall. Florida was in the lead with a 49.225 on floor, Boise State took over second with a 49.175 on floor, and BYU was in third with a 48.950 on vault. The Razorbacks started the meet off in fourth place with a 48.900 on beam, and Denver rounded out the teams with a score of 48.725 on bars.

The Wildcats slipped to sixth after event number two, earning a 48.350 on beam. Matusik led the team for yet another week, posting the top team score of 9.875. Quirk took the second place spot for Arizona with a 9.800. Freshmen Shana Sangston and Jordan Williams posted scores of 9.750 and 9.700 respectively, and Graham contributed by earning a 9.225 despite a fall.

"It was a very unfortunate start to beam; you really need to start off strong, and having to routines fall off the bat makes you really wonder about what is going to happen. I will give Shana and Jordan all the credit in the world for pulling it back around and keeping it together," Ryden said. "Molly had a lot to prove, and she did a very nice job. Once again, Katie Matusik - not enough words to describe that girl and her heart."

Floor was an entirely different story, enabling Arizona to pull ahead one spot in the rankings. The Cats started off with junior Rebecca Cardenas, who earned a solid starting score of 9.725.  Matusik then posted her career high score of 9.800.

"Katie had a career night. She was on her game; she looked great, and she's been training great. On a four judge panel, in a meet where they won't give you an inch, Katie did it. No matter how I change up  the order, Katie will look at me with the biggest smile in the world and say, `I'll do it. I'll do whatever.' I can't tell you what that means to me," Ryden said.

Other contributors included Cristello, with a 9.850, and Russell and Graham who earned twin 9.875 to tie for third in the meet overall.

"We've all been feeling the heat, coaches and gymnasts alike, as far as making floor is concerned. It was nice to be able to sort of redeem ourselves on that event after what has been going on this season," Ryden said.

Going into the final rotation, Florida held tight to first with a total 148.000, Arkansas and Boise State tied for second with a 147.375, Denver earned fourth with a 146.325, and Boise State slipped to sixth with a 145.800.

In the final event, the Wildcats posted a 49.075 to solidify their finish in fifth place. Sangston began the lineup, posting a new career high 9.750. From there the scores stayed consistently strong, with Williams, Douglas, and Cristello all posting scores of 9.800. Russell then earned a 9.825, and Graham posted a 9.850 to tie for third place.

"Our goal was to try to match our Pac-10 score after beam, so after floor came through, we knew we needed to vault to try to get there. The girls were pumped, they rose to the occasion. When you are talking a four judge panel, it is exciting to be able to vault that well," Ryden said.

Arizona had two all-around competitors tonight: Graham and Cristello. Cristello posted a total all-around score of 38.375, and Graham earned a 38.725.

"When I talked to the team at the half way point, we decided we wanted to leave the people of Denver with a positive view of Arizona. The fact that we were able to leave with two back-to-back 49's - that's pretty good," Ryden said.

"By far, the highlights of the meet were Miranda and Katie. For Miranda, for her to be so happy and so satisfied in her last meet is rewarding. I am certainly going to miss her," Ryden said. "Both of those girls showed such heart."


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