Jan. 6, 2010
This week: The No. 20 Arizona women's gymnastics team takes on the No. 8 Arkansas Lady Razorbacks in its first meet of the season. The meet is to be held in Fayetteville Arkansas at 7:00pm on Saturday, January 9.
A Quick Look at Arizona: The fall of 2009 was full of adversity for a team looking to find its identity heading into the 2010 season. The season had already begun in August with the loss of two gymnasts, changing the squad size from 14 to 12. From there, however, difficulties plagued the Cats with the injuries of three athletes who were expected to have a significant impact for the team this year.
Rebecca Cardenas, who proved to be a strong asset to the Gymcats' floor lineup, tore her ACL and is not expected to return this year. Beam "stud" Katie Matusik is also expected to be out for the better part of the first half of the season thanks to a recent ankle injury. Lastly, newcomer Ellen Pitluck is out following an elbow injury for an unknown amount of time. Unfortunately, to add to the list, veteran Miranda Russell has not made as quick of a recovery as expected, also placing her on the injured list.
Head coach Bill Ryden and his staff have worked feverishly in recent weeks preparing a set of young lineups that will appear at Arkansas this week. While the lineups may not be what they were expected to be back in August, talent and potential remain the theme. Coaches have confidence that the team has enough depth to battle through some early season growing pains.
As a positive entering this weekend, the routines that will be competed have been solid in practice. The team is excited to make its 2010 debut and show the progress it has made in preparing for the opener. As Ryden said this week: "we plan to give it all we've got and come out fighting.
Scouting the Opposition: Arkansas Gymbacks: The No. 8-ranked Gymbacks competed in their fourth intra-squad meet on December 18th, exhibitioning routines with increased difficulty and new skills in front of several hundred spectators. They were able to compete without counting a single fall on any event, and should prove to be a more than worthy opponent for Arizona this weekend.
2009 Review: The Wildcats completed the 2009 season with an overall record of 12-12 and were able to make their 23rd consecutive NCAA post-season appearance. Thanks to a pristine floor exercise performance, then Junior Sarah Tomcyzk was able to take it one step further and competed floor at the NCAA National Championships. In addition, three Gymcats earned All-Conference accolades, including freshman Deanna Graham (2nd Team Vault), freshman Rebecca Cardenas (2nd Team Floor), and redshirt junior Sarah Tomczyk (1st Team Floor).
Look Out for the New Gymcats: Arizona bolsters a fairly young team, including four fresh new faces. These include: Aubree Cristello from Glenville, NY, Mykle Douglas from Plano, TX, Ellen Pitluck from Chicago, IL, and Molly Quirk from Glenmont, NY.
Preseason Rankings: The Arizona Gymcats head into the season ranked No. 20 in the 2010 Women's Pre-Season Coaches poll. They are one of only five Pac-10 schools to be rated. The others include No. 4 UCLA, No. 7 Stanford, No 10 Oregon State, and No. 25 Washington. Arizona State was listed as another team receiving votes for consideration.
Stacked Schedule: Arizona faces an extremely stacked schedule this season, competing against nine schools ranked in the pre-season poll. This includes some tough meets early on, including opening the season against No. 8 Arkansas, then No. 7 Stanford immediately after. The Gymcats must also take on No. 5 UCLA, No. 10 Oregon State, No. 3 Alabama, No. 15 Nebraska, No. 21 West Virginia, No. 22 Minnesota, and No. 25 Washington.
Ryden's Record: Head Coach Bill Ryden earned his 150th win last season, totaling his career and school record to become 150-151-3 with the conclusion of the 2009 season.
What's Coming Up: The Gymcats will have another meet on the road, traveling to Palo Alto, Calif., to take on the No. 7 Stanford Cardinals. The meet will take place at 2 p.m. PT on January 17. The Gymcats lost to Stanford last season in their second home meet of the year, which was one of only two home losses for the Wildcats.