April 11, 2010
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Despite a few rough spots, No. 21 Arizona placed third overall in the Los Angeles NCAA Regional Championship with a team score of 195.100.
"Tonight wasn't exactly our night, but true to form the team was not about to give in and roll over. The scores show this. When you count all of the things that we've been through a lot of people didn't even expect us to get this far. To have overcome all of our obstacles as well as we have and to place third overall really just shows the character of the team." Head Coach Bill Ryden said.
The first event the Wildcats competed was bars, where they earned a team total of 48.525. Sophomore Deanna Graham started for the Cats, earning a score of 9.700. Following her included Molly Quirk who posted a 9.600, and Aubree Cristello with a 9.675. From there, the team was led by senior Sarah Tomczyk and junior Miranda Russell who earned twin scores of 9.775. After event number one, the Wildcats were in fourth place, following UCLA, Arkansas, and Arizona State.
"Bars was a little bit rough, but we survived it. It exposed a little bit of our depth issues, but we fought not to count a fall and it allowed us to stay in the game." Ryden said, "The scoring is always tight on the first event, and for us to start on our weakest event and to really fight through it as well as we did is a very positive thing."
The GymCats then headed to the beam. Arizona was led by junior Colleen Fisher who posted a score of 9.750. Aubree Cristello and Katie Matusik both scored 9.725 and Deanna Graham and Molly Quirk both posted 9.700's to total the beam score of 48.600.
"We took some unfortunate balance checks - we were doing really good routines but just not great routines. In the post season and in this type of meet everything is exposed, and therefore our beam score was a little bit lower than what we've been averaging." Ryden said.
Despite a rough first half of the meet, Arizona had moved up to third place after the second rotation.
"I was very pleasantly surprised we were in third place. The fact that we went through our weakest event as well as a not so strong beam rotation and we were still in third, I knew that we were going to make the top three because our vault and floor can hold their own."
The Wildcats turned up the heat on floor, to earn yet another team total of 49.025. Sarah Tomczyk shone for the cats, earning another score of 9.90 to add to her belt as well as tie for second place overall. Molly Quirk was second highest scorer for the team, tying her career high of 9.80. Deanna Graham and Katie Matusik also contributed to the total with scores of 9.75 and 9.775 respectively. Upon the conclusion of floor, Arizona was holding tight to third place behind UCLA and Arkansas.
"Floor is always a very strong event for us, I knew we would do well. Our only major problem on floor at all was Deanna going out of bounds, but she still had a stellar routine for a 9.75." Ryden said, "At this point we really wanted to score a 195; scoring a 195 post season with a four judge panel really legitimizes this team. So, we went into vault with the attitude that we had nothing to lose."
And, at that point the GymCats really didn't have anything to lose. They finished on vault with a score of 48.950, securing third place. The Cats were once again led by Deanna Graham, who posted a strong score of 9.875 to tie for sixth place. Aiding Graham was Colleen Fisher tied her season high score of 9.800, as well as Sarah Tomczyk who also earned a 9.800.
"The girls were focused on finishing strong, and really showed their competitiveness. I was really impressed with Molly and Aubree, Colleen did one of her best vaults of the year, and Deanna has a dangerously good vault." Ryden said.
Arizona had four all-around competitors in tonight's meet. Deanna Graham led the group with a score of 39.025 to tie for eighth place. Tying for tenth place was Sarah Tomczyk, who posted a 39.000. Aubree Cristello was next highest for the Cats with a 38.900, followed by Molly Quirk with a 38.875.
"Sarah and Deanna have really stepped up in the all-around. Deanna has developed into an all-around athlete so much faster and so much stronger than I ever expected. And Sarah, well, Sarah's main goal was to be an all-around gymnast and she's done a great job. If you would've asked me a few years ago if Sarah would be in the all-around I would've probably said no. You just can't deny the fight in these kids." Ryden said.
UCLA won the meet with a season high score of 197.825, followed by Arkansas with a 196.675. Both of these teams will continue on to compete in the National Championships. Iowa State finished fourth with a 194.325, Arizona State took sixth with a 193.900 and BYU finished with a 193.400.
"Am I disappointed we aren't going farther? A little, but there are so many more positives to focus on. Most of our team is underclassmen, one freshman only missed one routine out of 52 attempts, and Deanna came into her own as an all-around gymnast. I am really, really proud of my team. They have developed that killer instinct, and fight to not give up." Ryden said, "Sure, our season ended two weeks earlier than we would've liked but in general placing third in such a talented region is a great way to go out."