Arizona Gymnastics Meet Notes ?- Denver, Southeast Missouri, Cal-State Fullerton (3/10/06)
What’s on Tap: The No. 15 Arizona women’s gymnastics team (5-9) will host No. 19 Denver (13-4), Southeast Missouri (8-5) and Cal-State Fullerton (6-7) in a quadrangular meet this Friday, March 10. The interconference meet is set to begin at 7:30 p.m. in McKale Center.
Watch it Live: ArizonaAthletics.com will provide live statistics and a live video webcast of the event (video is mostly of Wildcat gymnasts only). 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.
The Rankings: Despite posting a season-high team score last week, Arizona fell one spot in this week’s Gym Info rankings to No. 15, while its Regional Qualifying Score jumped up to 195.280. As a team, the Wildcats rank in the Top 20 in all four individual events, including No. 14 in the floor exercise, No. 14 on the beam, No. 8 on the uneven bars and No. 20 on the vault. Individually, Aubrey Taylor and Karin Wurm are ranked No. 6 and No. 20, respectively, on bars. The Wildcats began the year ranked No. 17 in the preseason coaches’ poll, and were ranked as high as No. 10 for the week of Jan. 30. Arizona has been ranked in 68 of the last 69 polls, including 21 straight.
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. Teams are ranked by their highest score from Jan. 9-15. From Jan. 16-Feb. 16, teams were ranked by their total season average. Starting Feb. 20, teams and gymnasts are 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.
Arizona Head Coach: Bill Ryden is in his eighth season at the helm of the Arizona gymnastics program, owning a school and career record of 98-112-3. Ryden made his head coaching debut at Arizona in 1998 and made his first appearance as a head coach at the NCAA Championships in 2002, the program’s first appearance since 1996. In 2002, Ryden 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 gymnastics history to have earned Regional Coach of the Year honors. Additionally, Ryden has coached in 15 Pac-10 Championships, 12 NCAA Championships and 15 NCAA Regional meets. Ryden has also trained 12 All-Americans and 18 All-Pac-10 gymnasts in his tenure at Arizona.
Scouting the Pioneers: Denver enters the week ranked No. 19 in the nation following a tough home loss to then-No. 11 Michigan, 196.050-195.250. The loss snapped the Pioneers’ school-record seven-meet win streak that dated back to Jan. 14. Even so, Denver posted a season-high on floor with a team score of 49.225. The Pioneers were led by junior Heather Huffaker, who won her fourth vault title of the season (9.875) to go along with her first beam title (9.875). Freshman Jessica Lopez and sophomore Sasha Sullivan each shared the floor titles with 9.9 marks to help the team to its season-best score in the event. Denver began the year ranked No. 21 after missing out on the NCAA Championships in 2005 with a third-place finish at the Southeast Region Championships. The Pioneers are coached by Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart, who is in her eighth year with the program.
Scouting the Redhawks: Southeast Missouri (191.975) enters the week unranked coming off a loss to then-No. 9 Missouri (195.550) and victories over Centenary (188.775) and Ball State (187.325) at the Outback Invitational. The Redhawks set a season-high on vault with a 48.775, the fifth highest mark in the event in school history. Junior Brystol Powelski earned a second-place finish with a 9.825 in the event, which set a new career-best. Freshman Sandra Blake was the Redhawks’ top finisher on bars with a 9.675, and she also finished third in the all-around with a total of 38.825. Sophomore Alison Ezell led Southeast Missouri on beam with a 9.600 mark en route to her season-high total of 38.300 in the all-around. The Redhawks are coached by Tom Farden, who is in his third year at the school.
Scouting the Titans: Cal-State Fullerton enters the week unranked and coming off a home loss to then-No. 12 Stanford, 194.675-191.175. The Cardinal swept the top three spots in every event except the floor exercise, where Melissa Schafer recorded a 9.650 to place third for the Titans. On the season, the Titans are 0-5 against Pac-10 opponents, including losses to UCLA (twice), Arizona State, California and Stanford. Last year, Cal-State Fullerton made a trip to Tucson for a quad-meet and placed second behind the Wildcats. The Titans are coached by Richard Gishi, who is in his first year at the school.
Senior Send-off: Following the meet this Friday, the school will honor two seniors who will be appearing in McKale for the final time in their careers, Erin Muirhead and Jessamyn Salter. Muirhead, the team’s captain, has been a consistent member of the Wildcats’ beam and floor lineups this season. Throughout her career, Muirhead has set career-highs of 9.850 on vault, 9.750 on beam and 9.825 on floor, with the latter two each being set this season. Salter has served as an undergraduate assistant coach for the past two seasons for the Wildcats.
Looking for Payback: The Wildcats and Pioneers will be squaring off for the second time this season after Denver claimed a victory in the season-opening meet for both teams in Cancun, Mexico, on Jan. 6. In that meet, The Pioneers (193.850) finished in third place behind Georgia and Stanford, and ahead of the Wildcats (192.925), who finished in fifth. The Pioneers also outscored the Wildcats in every event except bars.
Terrific Trio: Through the first six meets of the year, 106 of Arizona’s 216 (nearly 50 percent) routines have been performed by three gymnasts: Karin Wurm, Aubrey Taylor and Danielle Hicks. Together, the trio has brought consistent scoring and experience to Arizona’s lineup. In fact, nearly 60 percent of the Wildcats’ points earned this season have come from the three all-arounders. As a team, Arizona has scored 1,754.3 points, while Wurm, Taylor and Hicks have combined for 1,029.225, or 58.7 percent. Additionally, each has captured an all-around title and posted a 39.0 or better at least twice. Wurm has competed as an all-arounder in all nine meets this season, while Hicks and Taylor have each only missed one meet competing in all four events.
Nice Company: With her first-place score of 9.925 on the vault last week, junior Jamie Holton has etched her name in the school’s all-time record book. The mark, which shattered her previous career-high of 9.825 set just two weeks prior, ranks tied for 10th all time in the event at Arizona. The score also ties for fourth highest in the Pac-10 this season.
Streak Snapped: Last week, sophomore Danielle Hicks was held out of the vault lineup for the first time since Feb. 4, 2005, ending her streak of all-around appearances at 14. Even so, the Oshawa, Ontario, native turned in some impressive performances, scoring a 9.8 or better on the bars, beam and floor. Classmate Karin Wurm now has the longest stretch of all-around appearances for the Wildcats, as she has competed in all nine all-around competitions this season.
Home Again: For the third straight week, the Wildcats will compete at home. Arizona started the season off on the road for three consecutive meets, and traveled five of the first seven. The Wildcats are 4-1 at home this season, with the lone loss to No. 2 Florida last week. Two weeks ago, Arizona upset then-No. 6 UCLA to mark the Wildcats’ first victory over a ranked opponent at McKale Center this season.
Fantastic Fans: Arizona always appreciates the great fan support it receives from the community, and this year is no exception. The Wildcats have performed impressively in their four home meets this season, having scored over a 195 in all three, and setting a season-high 196.300 against Florida and BYU last week. Arizona did so last before a season-high crowd of 1,096 fans, the highest home attendance for the Wildcats since Jan. 14, 2005. On the season, Arizona is averaging 1,043 fans per meet. Last year, an average of 966 fans cheered on the Wildcats per meet.
Target 196: After posting five team scores of 195 or better, the Wildcats finally broke the 196-mark last Friday night. In the early part of the season, the 195-mark was a good measuring stick as to how the team was developing. Before doing so, the last time the Wildcats scored a 196 or better was on Senior Night a year ago when the team earned a total of 196.375, while picking up victories over Cal-State Fullerton, Texas Women’s and Ball State.
Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week X 2: Jamie Holton was named Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week for the week of Feb. 20-26 for her performances against UCLA. Holton, a 5-5 junior, was instrumental in the Wildcats’ upset over Pac-10 leading and then-No. 6 UCLA, 195.350-194.700, on Feb. 24. Competing in three events for only the second time in her career, she set a new career-high on the balance beam and matched her career-best on floor as Arizona defeated UCLA for only the fourth time in the program’s history. On vault, she earned a 9.750 in what was only her second vault appearance of the season. On beam, she shattered her previous career-high of 9.700 by scoring a 9.825. She capped her career-best meet by tying her career-high of 9.800 on floor.
Earlier this season, Junior Aubrey Taylor was named the Pac-10 Conference Gymnast of the Week for the week of Jan. 24-30. The 5-2 native of Burlington, Ontario, captured the first all-around title of her career against Oregon State while matching or setting a new season-high in every event, and earned her highest all-around score, 39.175, since Feb. 20, 2004. Taylor turned in a near-flawless routine on the uneven parallel bars, again tying her career-best mark of 9.900 to claim her second title in as many weeks. She also placed third on the balance beam, scoring a 9.750, and tallied a 9.800 on the floor to take fourth-place individually behind a trio of Wildcats that shared the individual title. Taylor also added her best score of the season, a 9.725, on vault.
Steady Improvement: The Wildcats got off to a shaky start on the beam this season, but have since found some consistency in their young lineup. After posting a season-low 47.350 in the second meet of the year at Penn State and falling out of the national Top 25 in the event, Arizona has since climbed all the way up to No. 14 in the event. The Wildcats are now averaging 48.428, but have a team RQS of 48.770. The team has scored a 48.8 or better in five of the last seven meets.
She’s Back: Named Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week three weeks ago, Aubrey Taylor has re-emerged as an all-arounder this season, returning to the vault lineup, the one event she didn’t compete in a year ago. The 5-2 junior missed competing in the vault lineup on Feb. 24, for the first time this season, but returned to the vault lineup last week. Taylor has competed as an all-arounder in eight meets this season, scoring an average of 38.906. On Feb. 10, she broke her season-best mark in the Wildcats’ victory at Oregon State, totaling a 39.250. The score captured her second all-around title of the seeason, the first two of her career. Her score against Oregon State (Feb. 10) was the highest total she has recorded since setting her career-high of 39.350 on Feb. 20, 2004. She has also claimed four bars titles this season, as she posted 9.900 scores against Arizona State, California, Oregon State and Stanford, and is ranked No. 6 nationally in the event.
Star in the Making: Freshman Alexis Greene has wasted no time in making a significant impact in the Wildcat lineup. The 5-5 native of Severn, Md., has competed in three events in all but one meet this season and has won three floor titles. In all, Greene as recorded 12 Top 5 finishes in meets this year (three on vault, five on bars and four on floor). Against UCLA, she matched her career-high on bars with a 9.850 as she tied for second place.
Beamer on Beam: Freshman Briana Bergeson, known better by her teammates as ?'Beamer,’ has quickly become the Wildcats’ top scorer on the balance beam. In six of the last seven meets, she has scored a 9.8 or better. In three consecutive meets, she bested her career-high and has placed no lower than second in those meets. At Arizona State, she earned a 9.800 to claim second. Against California, she claimed the individual title with a 9.850. Against Washington, she set a season team-high 9.900 on the beam to claim her second-consecutive beam title. At Oregon State, she earned a third-place finish with a score of 9.825.
Workman-like Vaulter: Freshman Bree Workman has become one of the Wildcats’ top vaulters this season. She ranks second on the team behind junior Jamie Holton with an average of 9.764. Against California, she earned a 9.825, good enough to claim her first-ever vault title. The 5-5 native of Lansing, Mich., set her then-career-high (9.850) at Penn State earlier in the year, and she matched that mark two weeks ago against UCLA. Last week against Florida, she scored a 9.875 against Florida and BYU to share third place, while establishing a new career-best.
Instant Impact: The Wildcats have called upon five freshmen to play integral roles this season. Alexis Greene has been a regular in three events and has won three floor titles. Briana Bergeson holds a team-best 9.900 on beam and has won two titles in the event. On Jan. 27, Bree Workman claimed her first career vault title. Sarah Parsons, who has a season-high 9.825 on bars, joins Bergeson and Greene as regulars in the bars rotation. Against Washington, filling in for Greene, Suzanne Alvey made her Wildcat debut and scored a 9.675 on vault. In all, seven of the team’s 24 routines have been performed by freshmen in each meet this season.
Fresh Faces: Arizona’s beam lineup is made up of four gymnasts who made their collegiate debuts in the event to begin the year. While the team got off to a slow start on the beam in the first two meets (47.425 and 47.350), the club has since responded with scores of 48.675 at Arizona State, 48.725 against California, 48.850 against Washington and 48.825 at both Oregon State and at Stanford. After a disappointing team score of 48.375 in the event against UCLA, the Wildcats rebounded with 48.800 against Florida last week.
Facing the Best: Arizona always competes against some of the top programs in the nation year in and year out, and this season is no different. The Wildcats will face 12 of the nation’s Top 25 teams tabbed in the preseason coaches poll throughout the season, 11 of which are currently ranked. Arizona has already faced No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Florida, No. 3 Alabama, No. 5 Oklahoma, No. 8 Stanford (twice), No. 10 UCLA, No. 15 Arizona State, No. 19 Denver, No. 17 Oregon State and No. 22 Brigham Young. The Wildcats upset then-No. 6 UCLA on Feb. 24 and face No. 19 Denver for the second time this season on Friday. The Wildcats are 2-9 against ranked opponents this season, and 3-0 against unranked foes.
Stacked Pac: Once again, the Pac-10 is one of the toughest conferences in the country. Five teams are ranked after the first nine weeks of competition. Stanford leads the way at No. 8, followed by No. 10 UCLA, No. 14 Arizona State, No. 15 Arizona and No. 17 Oregon State. The same five teams plus Washington had been ranked in the first two polls of the season. California is the lone team that has yet to be ranked this season.
The Lone Senior: When a team graduates six seniors in one class, it usually means that the following year they will rely on a number of underclassmen. That certainly is the case this year for the Wildcats, but don’t tell that to senior team captain Erin Muirhead. Coming off of a foot injury that cut short her season last year, Muirhead earned marks of 9.600 on beam and 9.675 on floor in Cancun. Her appearance on beam was the first of her career. The South River, N.J., native claimed a share of her first floor title against California, posting a score of 9.825. She also set a new career-high on beam with a 9.750 against Oregon State.
Junior Duo: The Wildcats have also turned to the leadership of a pair of juniors, Aubrey Taylor and Jamie Holton, both of whom have earned Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week awards. Taylor has emerged as an all-arounder for the first time since 2004, scored a season-best 39.250 against Oregon State and and has captured two all-around titles. Holton has also had some of her best meets the last few weeks, as she has been inserted into the vault lineup in addition to her regular duties on beam and floor. She was named Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week two weeks ago as she helped Arizona upset No. 6 UCLA. In doing so, she matched her careeer-best mark of 9.800 on floor, and set a new career-high with a 9.825 on beam to lead the club. Last week against Florida, she set a new career-high and etched herself into the school’s all-time charts with a 9.925 on vault, good enough to tie for 10th-best in school history.
Super Soph’s: Danielle Hicks, Karin Wurm and Rachelle Silberg all played vital roles on the Wildcat squad as freshmen. Now as sophomores, each are playing a prominent role in the Arizona lineups. Hicks has competed in the all-around eight times this season, while Wurm made her debut as an all-arounder this year. Silberg again has remained a mainstay in the club’s vault lineup, and won her first vault title against California with a 9.775.
Destination Corvallis: If all goes well, Arizona’s Feb. 10 trip to Corvallis, Ore., could end up being the first of three to the Beaver State this year. At that meet, the Wildcats picked up a regular-season Pac-10 conference victory with their team score of 195.400. The next trip will be on March 25 for the Pac-10 Championships, and Arizona could make a return trip if the team advances to the NCAA Championships April 20-22.
A Look Back: No. 14 Arizona (196.300) gave No. 2 Florida a major scare (196.625), while holding off Brigham Young (194.575) last Friday night before a season-high 1,096 fans in McKale Center.
Arizona gymnasts won at least a share of three individual titles, while the team broke the 196-barrier for the first time this season. Additionally, Wildcat gymnasts set or matched six personal-best marks, while the team set season-highs on both vault and floor.
The Wildcats and Gators battled neck and neck through the first three rotations before Florida pulled away on vault in the final rotation. Arizona held a 98.3-98.1 lead after two rotations, and trailed Florida 147.25-147.1 after three rotations. The Gators hung on for the victory, despite Arizona posting a season-best 49.2 on floor to close the meet.
The Wildcats got off to a fast on the event, shattering their previous season-high of 48.975 with a new high score of 49.225. Named Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week for her performance a week ago, junior Jamie Holton showed no signs of a letdown, sharing first place with a new career-high mark of 9.925, which ties for 10th highest in school history. Freshman Bree Workman also set a new career-high score with a 9.875, while sophomore Rachelle Silberg matched her season-best score of 9.825. Alexis Greene and Karin Wurm added scores of 9.8, respectively.
In the second rotation, the Wildcats scored a 49.075 on bars to mark the first time this season the club has scored a 49.0 or better on vault and bars in the same meet. Aubrey Taylor paced Arizona, capturing the title with a 9.9, her fourth 9.9 of the season. Karin Wurm tallied a 9.850 to share second-place honors, while Danielle Hicks and Alexis Greene chipped in marks of 9.825 and 9.80. Freshman Suzanne Alvey competed in the bars lineup officially for the first time in her career, posting a 9.700.
Arizona moved to the balance beam for the third rotation and relied on some clutch performances following a fall by Holton to start the rotation. Senior Erin Muirhead got the Wildcats back on track, posting a score of 9.675. Wurm and Taylor then each tallied 9.725 marks, before Bergeson and Hicks finished with two strong routines. Bergeson recorded a 9.825, while Hicks capped the rotation with a 9.850 to share second place in the event.
The Wildcats turned in a season-high 49.200 on floor as Taylor (9.9) and Wurm (9.875) claimed the top two spots in the event. Hicks also added a 9.85, while Muirhead and Holton chipped in marks of 9.8 and 9.775, respectively.
In the all-around, Florida claimed the top two spots. UA’s Wurm matched her career-high with a 39.250 to place third. Taylor, who returned to the all-around after not competing on vault a week ago, toataled a 38.950, good for fifth place.
Future Cats: Last November, Head Coach Bill Ryden announced the signing of three student-athletes who inked their names to National Letters of Intent to come to Arizona for the 2006-07 academic year. The future Wildcats are Brittney Morgan of Charlottesville, Va., Miranda Russell of Oshkosh, Wisc., and Jamie Custer of La Grange Park, Ill.
Looking ahead: The Wildcats will hit the road for their final regular season meet as they travel to Denton, Texas to take on host Texas Women’s University and Brigham Young next Saturday, March 18.