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Gymnastics Hits Road to Take on Cal
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 02/28/2007
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Arizona Gymnastics Meet Notes (at California, 3/2/07)

 

What’s on Tap: The No. 17 Arizona women’s gymnastics team (5-2, 3-2) will travel to Berkeley, Calif., to take on the California Golden Bears this Friday, March 2. The Pac-10 Conference dual meet is set to begin at 7:30 p.m (PST) in Haas Pavilion. Live stats will be available on www.CalBears.com during the meet.

 

The Rankings: Arizona enters competition this week ranked No. 17 in the country, with a RQS of 194.825. In individual events, UA ranks No. 12 on floor (48.910), No. 20 on beam (48.475), No. 22 on bars (48.505) and No. 15 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 80 of the last 81 polls, including 31 straight. Individually, Danielle Hicks ranks No. 10 on beam, with a RQS 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 Golden Bears: California enters the week unranked, but finished third behind No. 6 UCLA (196.250) and then-No. 11 Denver (193.700) last week. However, the Bears did defeat Cal State Fullerton, 192.450-191.925, picking up their first victory of the season in Los Angeles. Sophomore Bridgette Glass competed in the all-around competition for the first time in her Cal career. Glass posted a team-best all-around score of 38.950. The Oakley native notched career-highs on the vault (9.825) and bars (9.850). She also collected a 9.725 on the beam and a 9.550 on the floor. Glass placed fourth in the competition. Cal recorded their season-best vault score of 48.875 in the quad-meet. Three Bears notched their career best in the event, including senior Isabel Garcia (9.875), junior Allison Szutu (9.850) and Glass (9.825). Cal is coached by Cari DuBois, who is in her fourth season with the program.

 

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

 

 

Vault

Bars

Beam

Floor

Total

California

48.380

47.775

47.130

48.350

194.481

Arizona

48.979

48.614

48.504

48.968

195.064

 

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

 

 

Vault

Bars

Beam

Floor

Total

California

48.875

48.225

47.475

48.800

193.025

Arizona

49.075

49.100

49.075

49.300

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 113-120-3.  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. Two weeks ago, senior Aubrey Kelly broke a bone in her foot while training on vault and will likely be out for 3-4 more 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 and sophomore Bree Workman have each dealt with minor injuries that have kept them out of certain events at times, but both were back to full strength in each of the last two meets.

 

All or Nothing: With her third vault title of the season last week against Arizona State (also 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 eight times in her career, prevailing as the individual event champion on six of those occasions.

 

It Was a Good Run: Starting with the Oregon State meet on Jan. 26, junior Karin Wurm won at least a share of four consecutive vault titles. The streak began with a career-high 9.925 against Beavers in UA’s home opener and was snapped last week when she tallied a 9.825 to place second, just behind Arizona State’s Nicole Harris’ 9.850. Also beginning on Jan. 26, Wurm started a personal three-meet streak where she captured the all-around title. The streak began with the second-highest score of her career, a 39.150. Wurm, who has won four all-around and five bars titles in her career, is averaging a total of 38.763 in the all-around and a team-best 9.836 on bars in 2007.

 

McKale Magic: Since 2005, Arizona has racked up a dominant 18-3 record in McKale Center, including a 3-1 record to date in 2007. Going back to 2004, the Wildcats are 21-3-1 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). Despite a Feb. 16 home loss to No. 3 Stanford, Arizona has won five of its last six Pac-10 dual meets in McKale.

 

Oh, To Be Young Again: Last season, Arizona had three upperclassmen on its roster, led by senior Erin Muirhead. This season, the Wildcats have five upperclassmen, including seniors Jamie Holton and Aubrey Kelly. However, both Kelly and Holton have experienced some injury issues, with Kelly out for some time, and top sophomore Alexis Greene is out for the remainder of the season. This has left the coaching staff with no other choice than to turn to its young, yet talented underclassmen. In each of the last two meets, 15 of the 24 lineup spots have been filled by underclassmen, with freshmen Miranda Russell and Brittney Morgan both competing in the all-around. On the season, 50.6 percent of Arizona’s routines have been performed by underclassmen.

 

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 four weeks. Against Oregon State on Jan. 26, the Wildcats earned a 49.100, significantly higher than their previous best of 48.525. Since that meet, UA has scored lower than a 48.850 only once, and posted its second-highest score in the event two weeks ago against Stanford with a 49.025. Over the course of the four meets, UA’s average in the event has risen from 47.888 to 48.614, thanks to a 48.905 average during the stretch.

 

Quiet Consistency: Perhaps Danielle Hicks’ contributions are no longer quiet, as she leads UA with a 9.850 average on beam, a mark that puts her No. 10 in the nation with an RQS of 9.855. On Jan. 26 against Oregon State, she set her season high on beam with a 9.900 to claim the individual title against Oregon State. She matched that mark two weeks ago against Stanford with a 9.900 to win the individual title outright. Her lowest score in the event came last week against ASU, when she turned in a 9.775 performance. Additionally, in seven meets, she is averaging a score of 9.786 on floor. Due to a shoulder injury that will require surgery following the season, she will not be able to compete in the all-around this season. In her first two seasons, she competed in the all-around 17 times, averaging a 38.763 in 2006.

 

Fabulous Freshman: Charlottesville, Va., native Brittney Morgan may only be a freshman, but she has emerged as one of the team’s top gymnasts. On Feb. 16, she competed in her second career all-around competition, placing third with a career-high 39.250, the second highest total for a UA all-arounder this season. She also broke her previous career high of 9.750 on beam with a 9.850 against Stanford, giving her a share of third place in the event. She also set a career high on floor with a 9.800. She currently leads the team on vault with an average score of 9.811, and is second on beam with an average of 9.750.

 

Career Nights: Freshman Miranda Russell competed in the all-around for the first time in her collegiate career against Stanford on Feb. 16, scoring a 38.150, held significantly low due to two falls on beam. Last week against Arizona State, Russell turned in a solid 9.750 score on beam and totaled a career-best 38.950 in the all-around. Against the Cardinal, she made her official debut on vault, tallying a 9.850 to share second-place honors. She matched her career high on bars with a 9.775, and she shattered her previous career high of 9.800 on floor with a 9.875 to share third place on floor.

 

Reversal of Fortune: UA’s Feb. 9 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. Also, last week’s victory over Arizona State in McKale Center snapped a three-meet losing streak to the Sun Devils as ASu took all three meetings a year ago. Previously, UA’s last victory came at the 2005 South Central Regional Championships in Lincoln, Neb.

 

Heart of the Schedule: The Wildcats are currently is closing in on the end of a stretch of four consecutive Pac-10 conference dual meets. Arizona traveled has picked up a victory at Washington, fell to Stanford two weeks ago and defeated rival Arizona State last week.  

 

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 9.820.

 

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

Arizona Gymnastics

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