March 16, 2012
TUCSON, Ariz. – The Arizona women’s gymnastics team helped its seniors go out in style, posting a season high 196.525 in the final home meet of the season. Behind the Cats was the University of Bridgeport with a 193.525, Utah State University with a 192.975 and the Air Force Academy with a 192.175.
Vault set the tone for the evening from the very beginning, with four gymnasts stuck their landings cold contributing to a total score of 49.075. Sophomore Shana Sangston started the Cats off with a season high 9.800 to take third place. Junior Molly Quirk answered with a 9.775 tying with teammate Jordan Williams. Junior Aubree Cristello won the event with a 9.875, and senior Rebecca Cardenas earned a 9.850 for second place.
“I was very excited. We have been working so hard to improve at vault, it has been our weak event. The fact that we had eight girls warm up well and I had to choose from eight rather than guess who would hit speaks volumes to how much we have improved,” head coach Bill Ryden said.
The Cats kept the momentum on bars, swinging their way to a season high 49.225 on the event. In fact, the bar team was so on point that not a single competitor scored below a 9.825. Freshman Allison Flores earned her first event title of her collegiate career with a score of 9.875. Directly behind her were Quirk and Cardenas, tying for second with twin scores of 9.850. Rounding out the podium were senior Britnie Jones, senior Katie Matusik and Cristello, all with a score of 9.825.
“I expect the team to have bars like that. I am really proud of the bar team; they know they’re good and they know they have to live up to it on a week to week basis. To be honest, it was very fun to watch and I think that all seven girls who are over on bars every day expect a performance like that,” Ryden commented.
The beam team earned a score barely shy of a 49 posting a 48.950. A major highlight of the event came in Jones’ last routine in front of a home crowd: she took her ninth career event title, winning beam with a 9.875.
“It’s great that Britnie won beam. Talk about a full circle. Britnie went from being a major force her freshman year, then dealt with a leg injury and has been able to work her way back up to the top.” Ryden said, “The beam team is really good. Any one on that team could win on any given day, and tonight was Britnie’s night. She is a joy to watch up there, and tonight she looked really good.”
Cristello tied for second with a 9.850, and Quirk tied for third with a 9.800. Other beam contributors included Williams, who graced her way to a 9.775, and Flores posted a 9.650.
The Wildcat’s couldn’t have asked for a better ending to the senior meet, performing one of their best floor performances to earn a total 49.275. Cristello wowed both the judges and the crowd, taking first place with a 9.925. Also wowing the judges was Matusik, who earned a new career high 9.875 to take second place in her final routine in McKale.
“The fact that emotionally Katie caused herself a little issue on beam and she was able to handle it and come out with that beautiful of a routine shows how amazing Katie is all around. How can you not just love everything in the heart of a Katie Matusik? She was disappointed with her beam because she has expectations of herself – but the way she was able to come back – there really isn’t even a whole lot left to say,” Ryden said.
Cardenas made a showing in her final home routine as well, earning third place with a 9.850.
“Becca’s just a great floor worker. Last year we still had some after effects of the surgery, but now we’re seeing the true Becca again and the fact that she’s added vault to her repertoire and she is making huge contributions on three events for us, you know, what can you say? She’s doing a great job and we obviously wouldn’t be as good without her,” Ryden said.
Other contributors on floor included freshman Kristin Klarenbech, who tallied a score of 9.825, and Sangston who earned a career high 9.800.
The highlights didn’t stop by the end of the meet: Cristello tied her career high all-around score of 39.475 and breaking into the top ten all-around all-time performances (No. 9). Quirk also competed all-around, taking third with a 38.600.
“I think that we’re peaking. As a team we are starting to get better on a week to week basis. That being said, this meet truly was a highlight. I feel really good and confident. I don’t get nervous during the meets, we train hard enough and we know what we’re doing so we expect to hit.” Ryden said, “This is who we are. None of us are shocked by the score; we expect to score like this. It has been a great year and I want it to keep going as long as possible.”
The year will keep going, as the Cats are set to head to the Pac-12 Championships next week. The meet will take place next Saturday, March 24 at 4:00 p.m. MST.