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Gymnastics Hosts ASU for Rivalry Red-Out
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 02/24/2007
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Arizona Gymnastics Meet Notes (vs. Arizona State, 2/23/07)

 

What’s on Tap: The No. 13 Arizona women’s gymnastics team (4-2, 2-2) will host intra-state rival Arizona State (1-4, 1-3) on Friday, Feb. 23, in McKale Center. The Pac-10 Conference dual meet is set to begin at 7:30 p.m.

 

Watch it Live: ArizonaAthletics.com will provide live statistics and a live video webcast of the event (video features all Wildcat gymnasts and as many visiting team gymnasts as possible). As always, the live stats are free, while the live webcast this week will be available to All-Access subscribers only. Links will be provided in this article prior to the meet beginning on Friday. For more information, please log onto ArizonaAthletics.com.

 

Rivalry Red-Out: Everyone attending Friday’s meet is encouraged to wear red and cheer on the Wildcats as they take on rival Arizona State. Friday is also Faculty Staff Appreciation Night in McKale Center.

 

The Rankings: Arizona enters competition this week ranked No. 13 in the country, with a RQS of 194.825. In individual events, UA ranks No. 9 on floor (48.910), No. 14 on beam (48.415), No. 18 on bars (48.505) and No. 11 on vault (48.950). The Wildcats were tabbed as the No. 16 team in the nation according to the preseason coaches’ poll. Arizona has been ranked in the Top 25 in 79 of the last 80 polls, including 30 straight. Individually, Danielle Hicks ranks No. 8 on beam, with a RQS of 9.855. Karin Wurm is currently No. 20 on the uneven bars with a RQS of 9.820

 

About the Rankings: Unlike other collegiate athletic rankings, collegiate gymnastic rankings are not based on wins and losses or votes. Gymnastic teams are ranked by their meet scores alone.  From Jan. 15-Feb. 12, teams will be ranked by their total season average.  Starting Feb. 19, teams and gymnasts will be ranked by a Regional Qualifying Score (RQS).  An RQS is based on a team's top six regular-season scores, with three scores coming from away meets. To obtain the RQS, the team's or gymnast’s highest score is dropped and the remaining five scores are averaged. 

 

A Look at the Sun Devils: Arizona State will enter tonight’s meet coming off a two weeks of rest, having last competed at home on Feb. 9, splitting a tri-meet with meet winner Oklahoma and California. In the meet, ASU set a season-high team total with a 196.275, and established season high event marks on bars (48.875), beam (49.325) and floor (49.200). The Sun Devils are unranked due to the fact the team has only competed in four meets, thus not being able to obtain a Regional Qualifying Score. The Sun Devils rely on four all-arounders, including a trio of seniors in Lauren Powell, April Boone and Cassandra Jusino. Sophomore Nicole Harris also competes as an all-arounder. Jusino and Boone lead a talented beam sqaud, with season averages of 9.825 and 9.806, respectively. On floor, Boone posted a 9.95 in her last meet, well above her season average of 9.700. The Sun Devils are coached by John Spini, who is in his 27th season as head coach of the program.

 

Side-by-Side: Arizona and Arizona State event-by-event comparison based on 2007 season averages:

 

Arizona and Arizona State event-by-event comparison by season average score:

 

 

Vault

Bars

Beam

Floor

Total

Arizona State

48.881

48.538

48.563

48.500

194.481

Arizona

48.971

48.604

48.525

48.975

195.075

 

Arizona and Arizona State event-by-event comparison by season high score:

 

 

Vault

Bars

Beam

Floor

Total

Arizona State

49.125

48.875

49.325

49.200

196.275

Arizona

49.075

49.100

49.075

49.300

196.325

 

Arizona Head Coach: Bill Ryden is in his ninth season at the helm of the Arizona gymnastics program, owning a school and career record of 112-120-3.  Last season, he joined Jim Gault as the second coach to surpass 100 career coaching victories at Arizona. Ryden made his first appearance as a head coach at the NCAA Championships in 2002, the program’s first appearance since 1996.  In 2002, Ryden also earned Pac-10 Conference Coach of the Year honors as well as South Central Regional Coach of the Year honors, becoming the first head coach in Arizona history to have earned Regional Coach of the Year honors. Additionally, Ryden has coached in 16 Pac-10 Championships, 14 NCAA Championships and 16 NCAA Regional meets. Ryden has also trained 12 All-Americans and 18 All-Pac-10 gymnasts in his tenure at Arizona.

 

Injury Bug Bites Cats: Arizona’s team depth has been tested early and often so far this season, highlighted by the losses of Alexis Greene and Aubrey Kelly. Greene, a 5-5 sophomore, ruptured her Achilles tendon in practice the week of the UCLA meet and is expected to miss the remainder of the season. In practice last week, senior Aubrey Kelly broke a bone in her foot while training on vault and will likely be out for six weeks. Previously, Kelly suffered an ankle injury in warmups prior to the Oregon State meet and was held out of the all-around for two meets before returning to the all-around last week.  Senior Jamie Holton and sophomore Bree Workman have each dealt with minor injuries that have kept them out of certain events at times, but both were back to full strength a week ago.

 

Cats and Devils: Arizona State leads the all-time series with Arizona, 74-23-2, however the Wildcats have enjoyed some success at home, posting a 13-5-1 record against their rival in McKale Center. Last season the Sun Devils defeated the Wildcats three times, the first time at ASU, 195.300-195.150. The Sun Devils also finished above the Wildcats at the Pacific-10 Championships and North Central Regionals.

 

Five is Alive: Junior all-arounder Karin Wurm has won at least a share of the individual bars title in each of the last four meets. She shared the title last week with Stanford’s Carly Janiga. However, her streak of three straight all-around titles was snapped last week. Her streak began with a season-high 39.300 in the all-around a career-high 9.925 on bars in UA’s home opener on Jan. 26 against Oregon State. A week later against Minnesota, she posted a 38.875 total and a 9.900 on bars. Two weeks ago at Washington, she tallied a 39.150 in the all-around and a 9.875 on bars. Wurm, who has won four career all-around and five bars titles, is averaging a total of 38.780 in the all-around and a 9.838 on bars in 2007.

 

McKale Magic: Since 2005, Arizona has racked up a dominant 17-3 record in McKale Center, including a 2-1 record to date in 2007. Going back to 2004, the Wildcats are 20-3-1 in their home arena during the regular season (Arizona placed fourth at the Pac-10 Championships and third at the NCAA South Central Regional Champions in 2004, both hosted in McKale Center). Despite last week’s home loss to No. 3 Stanford, Arizona has won four of its last five Pac-10 dual meets in McKale.

 

Fantastic Fans: Arizona has always drawn tremendous crowd support in its home meets over the years, traditionally ranking among the top 25 in average home attendance. In 2007, Arizona fans have turned out in impressive numbers to cheer on the Wildcats, averaging 1,279 fans per meet to date. If that average holds, it would rank second all-time in program history, only behind the 1995 season, which drew an average of 1,493 fans per meet. The season-high crowd of 1,414 that watched Arizona battle Stanford last week was the fifth-largest regular season crowd to attend a meet in McKale Center. Last year, the Wildcats drew an average of 1,006 to McKale Center per meet.

 

Oh, To Be Young Again: Last season, Arizona had three upperclassmen on its roster, led by senior Erin Muirhead. This season, the Wildcats have five upperclassmen, including seniors Jamie Holton and Aubrey Kelly. However, both Kelly and Holton have experienced some injury issues, with Kelly out for some time, and top sophomore Alexis Greene is out for the remainder of the season. This has left the coaching staff with no other choice than to turn to its young, yet talented underclassmen. Last week, 15 of the 24 lineup spots were filled by underclassmen, with freshmen Miranda Russell and Brittney Morgan both competing in the all-around. On the season, 48.6 percent of Arizona’s routines have been performed by underclassmen.

 

It’s About Time: Despite its youth, inexperience and personnel losses (see Breaking in on Bars note below), Arizona’s bars lineup has shown steady improvement over the last four weeks. Against Oregon State on Jan. 26, the Wildcats earned a 49.100, significantly higher than their previous best of 48.525. Since that meet, UA has yet to score lower than a 48.850, and posted its second-highest score in the event last week against Stanford, a 49.025. Over the course of the four meets, UA’s average in the event has risen from 47.888 to 48.604, thanks to a 48.963 average during the stretch.

 

Quiet Consistency: Perhaps Danielle Hicks’ contributions are no longer quiet, as she leads UA with a 9.863 average on beam, a mark that puts her No. 6 in the nation with an RQS of 9.855. On Jan. 26 against Oregon State, she set her season high on beam with a 9.900 to claim the individual title against Oregon State. She matched that mark last week with a 9.900 to win the individual title outright. Her lowest score in the event came on Jan. 21 at UCLA, when she turned in a 9.825 performance. Additionally, in six meets, she is averaging a score of 9.779 on floor, the fourth-best mark on the team. Due to a shoulder injury that will require surgery following the season, she will not be able to compete in the all-around this season. In her first two seasons, she competed in the all-around 17 times, averaging a 38.763 in 2006.

 

Will the Trend Continue? Karin Wurm certainly hopes it will ?- at least for this week. The 5-4 sophomore did not compete on beam in the team’s season opener at Michigan State, but has competed in every competition since. During the five meets, she has had a weekly up-and-down trend on beam. She opened the year with a 9.225 at UCLA, then rebounded to post a 9.750 against Oregon State a week later. The next week, she struggled to a 9.350 against Minnesota, but bounced back with a 9.750 at Washington the following week. Last week against Stanford, two falls left her with a score of 8.600. At the current rate, she should be due for a good performance again this week, and she can then work on bucking the trend on the road next week at California.

 

Fabulous Freshman: Charolottesville, Va., native Brittney Morgan may only be a freshman, but she has emerged as one of the team’s top gymnasts. Last week, she competed in her second career all-around competition, placing third with a career-high 39.250, the second highest total for a UA all-arounder this season. She also broke her previous career high of 9.750 on beam with a 9.850 against Stanford, giving her a share of third place in the event. She also set a career high on floor with a 9.800. She currently leads the team on vault with an average score of 9.812, and is second on beam with an average of 9.750.

 

Career Night: Freshman Miranda Russell competed in the all-around for the first time in her collegiate career, scoring a 38.150, held significantly low due to two falls on beam. She made her official debut on vault, tallying a 9.850 to share second-place honors. She matched her career high on bars with a 9.775 and she shattered her previous career high of 9.800 on floor with a 9.875 to share third place on floor.

 

All or Nothing: With her two vault titles this season (at Michigan State and vs. Minnesota) sophomore Bree Workman has continued a trend she started last season. She has now placed in the top five on vault seven times in her career, with five of those occasions being the individual event champion.

 

Steady Climb: Arizona began the season tabbed as the No. 16 team in the preseason coaches’ poll. After posting a 194.975 at Michigan State to begin the year, the Wildcats jumped to No. 8 in the nation, its highest ranking since the week of Jan. 28, 2002 when the team was ranked No. 7. After a season-low score of 193.075 a week later at UCLA, UA dropped to No. 16 in the nation. Since, Arizona has seen a steady climb back towards the top 10, having improved exactly one spot each week up until last week, where it has remained at No. 13 for the last two weeks.

 

Reversal of Fortune: UA’s Feb. 9 win at Washington was Ryden’s first win against the Huskies in Seattle and the program’s first since 1996. Arizona defeated Washington in Hec Edmundson Pavilion by a score of 193.775-193.475 on March 15, 1996.

 

Heart of the Schedule: The Wildcats are currently in the midst of a stretch of four consecutive Pac-10 conference dual meets. Arizona traveled has picked up a victory at Washington, fell to Stanford last week, hosts Arizona State this week and then travels to California next week.

 

Breaking in on Bars: Looking for the root of Arizona’s struggles to begin the year on the uneven bars? Look no further than the fact in each of UA’s meets this season, four of the six lineup spots have been filled by freshmen or sophomores. Contributing to the inexperience is the absence of junior Danielle Hicks, who is unable to compete on bars this year due to a shoulder injury. Add in the loss of Alexis Greene for the remainder of the season, the team’s second-highest scorer in the event a year ago, and it is easier to understand why it took the Wildcats some time to find consistency on the event.

 

Senior Leadership: Now in her final season as a Wildcat, senior Jamie Holton began her senior campaign with arguably the best meet of her career. A former walk-on who does not compete on bars due to a previous shoulder injury, Holton posted 29.55 points for the Wildcats at Michigan State (Jan. 12), the highest three-event total of her career. She won a share of the vault (9.900) and floor (9.875) titles, while placing fourth on beam (9.775). Her score on vault was the second highest of her career, while the mark on floor was a new career best. She topped that mark against Oregon State with a meet-high 9.900. She currently leads the team on floor, with an average of 9.817.

 

Remember Her? The last name may have changed, but don’t worry, Aubrey is still Aubrey. Senior Aubrey Kelly, previously Aubrey Taylor, married Jesse Kelly this past summer. Last season, the new Mrs. Kelly earned a score of 9.900 on the uneven bars at the NCAA North Central Region Championships to qualify individually for the NCAA Championships, where she scored a 9.800 in Session II to place 17th.

 

Finish Strong: Historically, Arizona squads have thrived in the role as the underdog. When tabbed as the No. 16 team in the nation or lower to begin a year, as is the case this season, the Wildcats have finished ranked higher at the end of the year in each of Ryden’s seasons. Last season, the Wildcats finished the season No. 13 after beginning the year at No. 17. Below are Arizona’s preseason and final rankings by year since 1998.

 

Arizona in the Polls Since 1998:

 

Year

Preseason Rank

Final Rank

2007

16th

???

2006

17th

13th

2005

13th

t-18th

2004

17th

14th

2003

Arizona Gymnastics

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