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Gymnastics Ready for Clash with No. 3 Cardinal
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 02/17/2007
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Arizona Gymnastics Meet Notes (vs. No. 3 Stanford, 2/16/07)

 

What’s on Tap: The No. 13 Arizona women’s gymnastics team (4-1, 2-1) looks to win extend its three-meet winning streak as it hosts No. 3 Stanford (7-1, 5-0) on Friday, February 16. The Pac-10 Conference dual 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 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.

 

The Rankings: Arizona enters competition this week ranked No. 13 in the country, with an average team score of 195.015. In individual events, UA ranks No. 8 on floor (48.910), No. 10 on beam (48.615), No. 22 on bars (48.520) and No. 12 on vault (48.970). 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 78 of the last 79 polls, including 29 straight. Individually, Danielle Hicks ranks No. 8 on beam, with an average score of 9.855.

 

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 Cardinal: Stanford enters Friday’s meet ranked third in the nation and is coming off a season-high performance last week at home. The Cardinal defeated ranked foes Iowa State and Oregon State last Friday at home, due in large part to its 197.275 total team score. Nicole Ourada won the all-around with a personal-best 39.575 and was named Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week for her performances. The Cardinal is ranked third in the nation on both bars and beam, fifth on floor and tenth on vault. Stanford is coached by Kristen Smyth, who is in her sixth year at the helm of the program.

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

Vault

Bars

Beam

Floor

Total

Stanford

49.200

49.575

49.375

49.325

197.275

Arizona

49.075

49.100

49.075

49.225

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 112-119-3.  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 this 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 has been battling a shoulder injury for the last two weeks, preventing her from competing on vault. Additionally, sophomore Bree Workman, one of the team’s top vaulters, has missed two vault competitions this year, the latest coming last week against Washington. The coaching staff hopes to have both Holton and Workman in the vault lineup this week.

 

Cats and Cardinal: For the Wildcats’ sake, they are happy to be home this week to face the No. 3 Stanford. Under Ryden, Arizona has never defeated the Cardinal in Palo Alto (0-4), but have had some success in Tucson or at neutral venues. UA last defeated Stanford on Feb. 11, 2005 in a 195.225-193.9725 victory in McKale Center. Prior to that, Arizona knocked off Stanford in Tucson on Feb. 26, 1999 (194.050-193.425). In Ryden’s tenure, the Wildcats have bested the Cardinal in neutral locations on three occasions in the Pac-10 Championships (1999, 2002 and 2005). Overall, Ryden is 5-11 against Stanford.

 

Three in a Row: Junior all-arounder Karin Wurm has won the all-around and bars titles in each of the last three meets. 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. Last week 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 bars titles, is averaging a total of 38.925 in the all-around and a 9.825 on bars in 2007.

 

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 three weeks. Against Oregon State on Jan. 26, the Wildcats earned a 49.100, significantly higher than their previous best of 48.525. On Feb. 2 against Minnesota, UA recorded a 48.850 and then tallied a 48.875 at Washington last week. Over the course of the three meets, UA’s average in the event has risen from 47.888 to 48.520, thanks to a 48.942 average during the stretch.

 

McKale Magic: Since 2005, Arizona has racked up a dominant 17-2 record in McKale Center, including a 2-0 record to date in 2007. Going back to 2004, the Wildcats are 20-2-1 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). UA’s last home loss came at the hands of No. 2 Florida on March 3, 2006, a meet in which UA posted its season-best score to date. Additionally, the Wildcats have won their last four Pac-10 dual meets at home.

 

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 1,211 fans per meet to date. Last season, the Wildcats drew an average of 1,006 to McKale Center per meet.

 

Up For the Challenge: UA has not faced a ranked foe in the last two meets, but that will change this week when the third-ranked Stanford Cardinal comes to the Old Pueblo. Stanford will be the highest ranked opponent to visit Tucson since No. 2 Florida made the trip on March 3, 2006. The Wildcats opened the season facing three straight ranked opponents, posting a respectable 2-1 record. In case you were wondering, Arizona’s most notable home victory over a ranked opponent in recent history came last season against No. 6 UCLA. The Wildcats’ 195.350-194.700 upset victory was only the program’s fourth win over the Bruins.

 

Quiet Consistency: Over the course of her career, junior Danielle Hicks has quietly become on of the team’s most consistent performers. In her first two seasons, she competed in the all-around 17 times, averaging a 38.763 in 2006. While a shoulder injury will prevent her from competing on bars this season, she has asserted herself as a top scorer on beam and floor. She leads UA with a 9.855 average on beam, a mark that puts her No. 8 in the nation. Three weeks ago, she set her season high on beam with a 9.900 to claim the individual title against Oregon State. Additionally, in five meets, she is averaging a score of 9.785 on floor, the second-best mark on the team.

 

Reversal of Fortune: Last week’s 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.

 

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 one spot in each of the last three weeks to its current position at No. 13.

 

Heart of the Schedule: The Wildcats are currently in the midst of a stretch of four consecutive Pac-10 conference dual meets. Arizona traveled to Washington last week, hosts Stanford and Arizona State the next two weeks, and then travels to California on March 2.

 

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 9.800.

 

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

10th

19th

2002

17th

11th

2001

20th

18th

2000

16th

20th

1999

16th

20th

1998

12th

14th

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Facing the Best: Arizona always competes against some of the top programs in the nation year in and year out, and this season will be no different. The Wildcats will face eight opponents ranked in the preseason poll, including Pac-10 foes No. 5 UCLA, No. 8 Stanford, No. 11 Arizona State and No. 12 Oregon State. The Wildcats will also compete against No. 14 Penn State, No. 21 Minnesota, and Kentucky and Michigan State, both of which tied for N

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