The Arizona Wildcats have a lot to look forward to this year.? Aside from eyeing the programˇ?s 22nd-consecutive NCAA postseason appearance, the Wildcats will have a remodeled Mary Roby Training Facility to call home.? Construction has been underway on making one of the finest gymnastics facilities in the nation even better.
ˇ?I am very excited to start a new era of Arizona gymnastics in our remodeled training facilityˇ± head coach Bill Ryden said.? ˇ?Our training facility will definitely help our gymnasts train at the highest level, and the facility itself is a symbol of the commitment we have at sustaining the success of this program.ˇ±
??????????? Hard work, top-level training and a dedication to athletic and academic success have kept Arizona a consistent name among the top teams in the nation vying for the NCAA Championships.? Expect this season to be no different.? The Wildcats return 11 gymnasts from last yearˇ?s 13th-ranked team, including an All-American in senior Karin Wurm, and will look to reach the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2002 after being a spot short of qualifying for the championships the past two seasons.
This yearˇ?s team will be led by four talented seniors in Wurm, Danielle Hicks, Rachelle Silberg and Melanie Weiser, and will feature an experienced group of underclassmen.? Last year, Wurm earned All-American status in the all-around and on floor, and was one of six Wildcats who earned Academic All-American honors. Hicks has been a stable force the past three seasons, as she has only fallen off of the beam once and has remained a solid contributor to the teamˇ?s lineup in multiple events. ?Silberg returns after a very productive year on vault, and Weiser, who just completed rehabilitation from an ACL injury, will add depth to the Wildcat lineup.
??????????? ˇ?Our senior class is a very experienced group that knows what it takes to get to the next level,ˇ± Ryden said.? ˇ?They are a group of talented gymnasts who have been in pressure situations in NCAA Regional competition and will look to perform their very best in every meet.ˇ±
??????????? Following the four seniors is a large class of juniors that will be counted upon to be a consistent and reliable group in each event.? Briana Bergeson is fresh off an impressive sophomore campaign that saw her place second on beam in last yearˇ?s NCAA South Central Regional Championships.? She also posted a career-high 9.950 on beam in a meet last season, and is looking to improve not only on beam but on bars and floor as well.? Bree Workman has been a consistent vault and floor performer for the Wildcats, and finished second on vault in last seasonˇ?s regional championships, and also had two 9.900s in the event.? Suzanne Alvey competed in 10 of the teamˇ?s 13 meets last season and was a solid contributor, and Erica Anderson and Alexis Greene return to the Arizona lineup after rehabilitating from injuries that held them out of action last season.? Sarah Specht returns after a sophomore season that saw her consistently score 9.825s or better on vault, bars and floor and will look to continue her contributions this season.
??????????? ˇ?Although they have done well in the past, it really is going to be a coming out year for our junior classˇ± Ryden said.? ˇ?That group will not only provide a lot of depth, but also a lot of leadership because of the experience they gained over the last two seasons.ˇ±
??????????? Arizonaˇ?s underclassmen are also a talented bunch, starting off with sophomore Miranda Russell.? Russell saw substantial action last year as a freshman as she notched 9.800s or better in each event, including a career-high 9.900 on beam and a career-best 39.250 in the all-around.
??????????? The Wildcats will also add two freshmen to this yearˇ?s lineup.? Freshman Colleen Fisher, former Junior Olympic national all-around champion, and freshman Kristen Schmieder, a Junior Olympic national qualifier, will vie for spots in each event.?
??????????? ˇ?The newcomers we have to our program have the ability to make an immediate impact in the gym,ˇ± Ryden said.? ˇ?They are all capable of performing at a high level, and I will expect them all to play a vital roll in our lineups.ˇ±
Arizona has had a tradition of fielding strong vault teams, and this yearˇ?s squad has the potential to be one of the best yet in the event.? In 2007, the Wildcatsˇ? vault team scored a 49.450 in the final regular season home meet, the fifth-highest mark in program history on the event. A week earlier at North Carolina State, Arizonaˇ?s floor team tallied a 49.425, a mark that is seventh all-time at Arizona.
In all, five Arizona vaulters scored a 9.900 or better on the 2007 season, including a score of 9.975, the fifth-best individual score in the event in school history.? Individually, Workman placed second on vault at Regional Championships scoring a solid 9.850, and Specht scored consistently with an average of 9.800 the majority of the season, not to mention Silberg posting 9.800s and 9.700s as she competed on vault in 11 of the teamˇ?s 13 meets last season.?
ˇ?We are very strong on vault,ˇ± Ryden said. ?ˇ?If all of our top vaulting gymnasts are performing well, we will score very well. ?It will be exciting to watch the Wildcats on vault this season.ˇ±
??????????? This season, the bars are an event that should be impressive to watch for the Arizona gymnastics team.? Last season, the Wildcats posted three scores of 49.000 or better in the event, and consistently put up scores that flirted with that mark.? This season, Arizona returns a majority of the gymnasts that contributed to last yearˇ?s bars lineup, including Wurm and Bergeson.? Wurm was ranked in the top-five in the nation on bars most of last season and owns a career-high 9.925 in the event, and Bergeson competed on bars in all 13 meets, posting a career-best 9.850.? The Wildcats will also get a huge boost from the return of Alexis Greene.? Greene was injured last season, but posted a career-best 9.850 in 2006.
ˇ?Our program has always taken pride in performing well on bars,ˇ± Ryden said.? ˇ?Bars is an event that requires a lot of skill and concentration, and when our gymnasts perform at their best we are capable of hitting big in the event in each given meet.ˇ±
??????????? Last season, the Wildcats straight tore it up on beam, and look for Arizona to hit even more this season in the event.? Arizona ˇ?s beam skill was on full display at the South Central Regional Championships, as the Wildcats scored a 49.425 in the final rotation to nearly rally back and upset second-seed Oregon State for second place in the meet. The event score was the second-highest all-time at Arizona, while four Wildcats scored a 9.900 or better on the night.? Arizona scored a 49.000 or higher on beam in four of the final six meets of the season.
ˇ?We have some very talented beam workers and I expect beam to be one of our strengths this season,ˇ± Ryden said.? ˇ?We have some gymnasts who have not been under the pressure cooker of beam and are not afraid to compete at their best when their best is needed.ˇ±?
Arizona will return four of their six major beam workers from last year, including solid beam performer Hicks, whoˇ?s career-best in the event is a 9.900.? She has also ranked as high as second in the Pac-10 on beam for much of last year.? The Wildcats will also field Bergeson, whoˇ?s career-best 9.950 on beam is the third-best mark in school history, and Wurm and Russell, a pair of gymnasts who also own 9.900s to their credit. With those four ready to go and a deep rotation of gymnasts vying for the final two spots in that rotation, expect the Wildcats to make another assault on the school record books this season.
??????????? Floor is traditionally an Arizona strength, and this yearˇ?s floor lineup will be littered with exciting gymnasts who are capable of performing at a high level led by Wurm, who was an All-American in the event last season.? Wurm earned All-American status on the floor for her routine at the National Championship after scoring a 9.850., and owns a career-best 9.900 in the event.? The Wildcats will also return Hicks, who competed in all 13 meets on floor last season, and upped her career high to a 9.925.? As a team, the Wildcats posted scores of 49.000 or better eight times, including a season-high 49.425, the seventh-best mark in school history.
ˇ?We have a lot of people doing difficult tumbling, so when we put our gymnasts out there to compete we will be strong.ˇ± said Ryden.? ˇ?We have an exciting group of gymnasts to watch on floor and I know our fans will love seeing them compete this season.ˇ±
??????????? Last year, the teamˇ?s main all-arounder was Wurm, as she was named an All-American as well as a member of the All-Pac-10 team as a four-event gymnast, and she returns looking to add to her already stellar career. Joining Wurm in all four events is Russell, who competed in the all-around last year as a freshman, and finished with scores above 39.000 on multiple occasions.??????????? ˇ?We have many gymnasts on this team who have the ability to contribute to our team in all four events,ˇ± Ryden said.? ˇ?I expect our gymnasts to compete fiercely for a spot in each rotation, which will give a lot of them the opportunity to compete as all-arounders this season.ˇ±