Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
No. 14 Gymnastics Ready to Battle the Beavers
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: February 08, 2006
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Arizona Gymnastics Meet Notes ?- Oregon State (2/10/06)


What’s on Tap: The No. 14 Arizona women’s gymnastics team (2-7) will travel to Corvallis, Ore., to take on the No. 19 Oregon State Beavers (9-3) on Friday, Feb. 10. The Pac-10 dual-meet is slated to begin at 7 p.m. (PST) in Gill Coliseum.


The Rankings: The Wildcats fell to No. 14 in the nation this week after entering the Top 10 a week ago. As a team, the Wildcats rank in the Top 20 in all four individual events, including No. 6 in the floor exercise, No. 18 on the beam, No. 4 on the uneven bars and No. 17 on the vault. Individually, Aubrey Taylor is ranked No. 10 on the bars with an average of 9.860. The Wildcats began the year ranked No. 17 in the preseason coaches’ poll. Arizona has been ranked in 64 of the last 65 polls, including 17 straight.


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.  Teams are ranked by their highest score from Jan. 9-15.  From Jan. 16-Feb. 16, teams will be ranked by their total season average.  Starting Feb. 20, 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. 


Arizona Head Coach: Bill Ryden is in his eighth season at the helm of the Arizona gymnastics program, owning a school and career record of 95-110-3. Ryden made his head coaching debut at Arizona in 1998 and made his first appearance as a head coach at the NCAA Championships in 2002, the program’s first appearance since 1996.  In 2002, Ryden 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 15 Pac-10 Championships, 12 NCAA Championships and 15 NCAA Regional meets. Ryden has also trained 12 All-Americans and 18 All-Pac-10 gymnasts in his tenure at Arizona.


Scouting the Beavers: Oregon State enters the week fully rested after an idle week and are ranked No. 19 in the nation. The Beavers were last in action on Jan. 27 against Stanford as they picked up a 195.150-194.125 dual-meet victory at home. Jami Lanz and Tasha Smith shared the all-around title as each earned a 39.125. The two freshmen all-arounders have competed in all four events in each of the Beavers’ first six meets this year. Senior teammate Chrissy Lamun has competed in the all-around in the last three meets, and totaled a 38.650 against the Cardinal. As a team, Oregon State is ranked No. 16 in the nation on floor with an average of 48.665, No. 19 on beam (48.180), No. 19 on bars (48.445) and No. 17 on vault (48.690). The Beavers are coached by Tanya Chaplin who is in her ninth season at the helm of the program. Last fall, Chaplin, who was named 2005 Pac-10 Coach of the Year, received a contract extension through 2010.


Destination Corvallis: If all goes well, this week’s trip to the Beaver State could be the first of three separate trips to Corvallis, Ore., this season. Arizona’s first scheduled trip to the Pacific Northwest is this week, when the club will face the Beavers in regular season Pac-10 competition. Arizona will then travel back up the coast on March 25 for the Pac-10 Championships and could make a return trip if the team advances to the NCAA Championships on April 20-22.


A Tale of Two Seasons: Now five meets into the 2006 season, the Wildcats have an overall record of 2-7 with the two wins coming in the last two dual-meets. By comparison, the 2005 squad had earned a record of 9-4 through the first five meets. The difference is that this year’s squad is ranked No. 14 in the nation whereas the 2005 club was ranked No. 20 at the same point of the season. Additionally, the Wildcats were ranked No. 10 a week ago, a feat last year’s team did not accomplish the entire season. Arizona remains among the top teams in the country because each week gymnastics teams are not only competing against teams at the meet, but all other teams around the country. The Wildcats have posted a 195 or better in each of the last three meets, something the Wildcats did not do until March last season.


Terrific Trio: Through the first five meets of the year, 60 of Arizona’s 120 (50 percent) routines have been performed by three gymnasts: Karin Wurm, Aubrey Taylor and Danielle Hicks. Together, the trio has brought consistent scoring and experience to Arizona’s lineup. In fact, nearly 60 percent of the Wildcats’ points earned this season have come from the three all-arounders. As a team, Arizona has scored 973.625 points, while Wurm, Taylor and Hicks have combined for 581.225, or 59.7 percent. Additionally each has captured an all-around title and posted a 39.0 or better at least twice. Taylor has broken the 39.0 mark three straight weeks, while Hicks has done so in each of the last two meets.


On the Road Again: After picking up a pair of dual-meet victories at home in McKale Center over the last two weeks, the Wildcats will hit the road again, something they got very used to early in the season. The Wildcats opened up 2006 in Cancun, Mexico, at the Cancun Gymnastics Classic where the team placed fifth out of five teams. Arizona then traveled across the country to State College, Pa., to take on Penn State and Alabama. The Wildcats then returned to the state of Arizona the following week, albeit up Interstate 10 at Arizona State. The three week stretch to start the season on the road was the longest of its kind since 2001. Arizona has posted an 0-7 record away from home this season, although the team has improved its scoring in each road meet (1/6: 192.925, 1/14: 194.350, 1/22: 195.150).


Target 196: In the early part of the season, the 195-mark is a good measuring stick as to how a team is developing. The Wildcats have reached that benchmark in each of the last three meets. Now, Arizona will look to break the 196-mark, a feat only 12 teams can claim at this point in the season. The last time the Wildcats scored a 196 or better was on Senior Night last year when the team earned a total of 196.375, while picking up victories over Cal-State Fullerton, Texas Women’s and Ball State. Additionally, Arizona’s season-high score of 195.875 is the highest the team has scored since the Pac-10 Championships last year, when the club captured second-place with a 195.925.


Leader of the Pac: As a team, Arizona leads the Pac-10 in scoring average in two events. Paced by two scores of 49.0 this season, the Wildcats’ bars team is tops in the conference with an average of 48.985. The club also ranks first on the floor, with an average of 48.845. Additionally, Arizona is ranked No. 4 on the vault (48.690) and No. 4 on beam (48.205) in the conference.


Steady Improvement: The Wildcats got off to a shaky start on the beam this season, but have since found some consistency in their young lineup. After posting a season-low 47.350 in the second meet of the year at Penn State, Arizona has since improved its team score on beam in each of the last four meets. The most significant improvement came as the Wildcats rebounded from the season-low to score a 48.675 the following week, an improvement of 1.325 points. Arizona then bested its score again the following week against California, earning a 48.725, an improvement of 0.050 points. Last week, the squad again showed marked improvement, tallying a 48.850, for an improvement of 0.125 points. 


She’s Back: Named Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week two weeks ago, Aubrey Taylor has re-emerged as an all-arounder this season, returning to the vault lineup, the one event she didn’t compete in a year ago. Over the last three meets, Taylor has broken the 39.0 mark and earned a season-high 39.175 in the Wildcats’ victory over Cal which earned her the weekly honor. The mark of 39.175 was good enough to capture her first-ever all-around title and was the highest total she has recorded since setting her career-high of 39.350 on Feb. 20, 2004. She has also claimed two bars titles this season as she posted 9.900 scores against Arizona State and California, and is ranked No. 10 nationally in the event.


Back to Form: Despite being a freshman a year ago, Danielle Hicks became one of the Wildcats’ most consistent performers at the end of last season, competing as an all-around in the final six meets of the season and capturing two titles. Hicks got off to a bit of a slow start this year, however, seeing both Karin Wurm and Aubrey Taylor earn more consistent all-around totals early in the year. That changed two weeks ago when Hicks scored a 39.150 and placed second in the all-around, a total much more reminiscent of the scores she earned as a freshman. She bested that total a week ago and claimed her first all-around title of 2006 with a score of 39.175.



Star in the Making: Freshman Alexis Greene has wasted no time in making a significant impact in the Wildcat lineup this season. The 5-5 native of Severn, Md., has competed in three events in four of five meets to begin the season and has won three straight floor titles. Two weeks ago against California, she earned a 9.8 or better on the vault, bars and floor. She claimed a share of her first individual title on the floor exercise earlier this year at ASU with a mark of 9.800, and bettered that score with a 9.825 and a share of the floor title against California. She bested that mark with her third floor title last week against Washington as she set her new career-high at 9.875. In all, Greene as recorded six Top 5 finishes in meets this year (two on vault, three on bars and three floor titles).


Beamer on Beam: Freshman Briana Bergeson, known better by her teammates as ?'Beamer’, has quickly become the Wildcats’ top scorer the last three weeks on the balance beam. She has bested her career-high each of the last three weeks and has placed no lower than second in those meets. At Arizona State, she earned a 9.800 to claim second place. In her first career home meet against California, she scored a 9.850 to capture her first career individual title. Last week against Washington, she set a season team-high 9.900 on the beam to claim her second-consecutive beam title.


Workman-like Vaulter: Freshman Bree Workman has become one of the Wildcats’ top vaulters this season. She ranks second on the team behind classmate Alexis Greene with an average of 9.750 this season. Against California two weeks ago, she earned a 9.825, good enough to claim her first-ever vault title. The 5-5 native of Lansing, Mich., set her career-high (9.850) at Penn State earlier in the year.


Instant Impact: The Wildcats have called upon five freshmen to play integral roles this season. Alexis Greene has been a regular in three events and has won three-consecutive floor titles. Briana Bergeson holds a team-best 9.900 on beam and has won two-straight titles in the event. Two weeks ago, Bree Workman claimed her first-career vault title. Sarah Parsons, who has a season-high 9.825 on bars, joins Bergeson and Greene as regulars in the bars rotation. Last week, filling in for Greene, Suzanne Alvey made her Wildcat debut and scored a 9.675 on vault. In all, seven of the team’s 24 routines have been performed by freshmen in each meet this season.


Fresh Faces: Arizona’s beam lineup is made up of four gymnasts who made their collegiate debuts in the event to begin the year. While the team got off to a slow start on the beam in the first two meets (47.425 and 47.350), the club has responded the last three weeks with scores of 48.675 at Arizona State, 48.725 against California and 48.850 last week against Washington. Briana Bergeson has won two-straight individual titles for the Wildcats and recorded a career-best 9.900 last week.


Facing the Best: Arizona always competes against some of the top programs in the nation year in and year out, and this season is no different. The Wildcats will face 12 of the nation’s Top 25 teams tabbed in the preseason coaches poll throughout the season,10 of which are currently ranked. The list includes No. 11 and defending Pac-10 champion UCLA, as well as No. 1 and defending national champion Georgia, which the Wildcats faced in Cancun along with No. 6 Oklahoma. Arizona also squared off with No. 3 Alabama and No. 17 Penn State earlier this year, and will face No. 5 Florida at home later in the year.


Stacked Pac: Once again, the Pac-10 will be one of the toughest conferences in the country. Five teams are ranked after the first five weeks of competition. Arizona State leads the way at No. 10, followed by No. 11 UCLA, No. 12 Stanford, No. 14 Arizona and No. 19 Oregon State. The same five teams plus Washington had been ranked in the first two polls of the season. California is the lone team that has yet to be ranked this season.


The Lone Senior: When a team graduates six seniors in one class, it usually means that the following year they will rely on a number of underclassmen. That certainly is the case this year for the Wildcats, but don’t tell that to senior Erin Muirhead. Muirhead, the team captain, looks to provide veteran leadership as she returns for her final season as a Wildcat. Coming off of a foot injury that cut short her season last year, Muirhead earned marks of 9.600 on beam and 9.675 on floor in Cancun. Her appearance on beam was the first of her career. The South River, N.J., native claimed a share of her first floor title two weeks ago against California, posting a score of 9.825. She also earned a Top 3 finish on the floor against Arizona State with a 9.775 mark.


Junior Duo: The Wildcats have also turned to the leadership of a pair of juniors, Aubrey Taylor and Jamie Holton. Taylor has emerged as an all-arounder for the first time since 2004, scored a season-best 39.175 last week against California and was named Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week. She has now scored a 39.0 or better in three straight meets. Holton has also had two of her best meets the last few weeks, scoring a career-high 9.700 in only her third beam competition, and adding a 9.725 on the floor at Arizona State. Last week she scored a season-high 9.775 on floor.


Super Soph’s: Danielle Hicks, Karin Wurm and Rachelle Silberg all played vital roles on the Wildcat squad as freshmen. Now as sophomores, each are playing a prominent role in the Arizona lineups. Hicks has made 11-straight all-around appearances dating back to last season, while Wurm made her debut as an all-arounder this year. Silberg again has remained a mainstay in the club’s vault lineup, as she has averaged a 9.715 in the event this season.


Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week: Junior Aubrey Taylor was named the Pac-10 Conference Gymnast of the Week for the week of Jan. 24-30. The 5-2 native of Burlington, Ontario captured the first all-around title of her career last week while matching or setting a new season-high in every event, and earned her highest all-around score, 39.175, since Feb. 20, 2004. Taylor turned in a near-flawless routine on the uneven parallel bars, again tying her career-best mark of 9.900 to claim her second title in as many weeks. She also placed third on the balance beam, scoring a 9.750, and tallied a 9.800 on the floor to take fourth-place individually behind a trio of Wildcats that shared the individual title. Taylor also added her best score of the season, a 9.725, on vault.


A Look Back: The No. 10 Arizona women’s gymnastics team (195.325) picked up its second-consecutive victory as it knocked off Washington (193.000) last Friday night in front of 1,004 fans in McKale Center.


Led by Danielle Hicks’ first all-around title of the season, the Wildcats turned in four solid rotations to post their third total of 195.150 or better in as many weeks.


The Wildcats opened the meet on the vault posting a team total of 48.625. Bree Workman earned a third-place finish to lead the Wildcats with a mark of 9.775. Karin Wurm added a 9.750, while Hicks and Taylor chipped in scores of 9.725 and 9.700, respectively. Ashley Houghting (9.900) and Chelsea Bakken (9.800) earned the top two spots in the event. Freshman Suzanne Alvey made her official Arizona debut, earning a score of 9.675.


Leading 48.625-47.000 heading to the bars, an event the team ranked No. 3 nationally coming into the meet, Arizona extended its lead behind 9.825 marks from Taylor and Hicks. Briana Bergeson added a 9.775, while Alexis Greene and Sarah Parsons earned scores of 9.750 and 9.725, respectively. Washington’s Kelly McDonald (9.900) placed ahead of the Wildcat’s top two scorers to claim the individual title.


Arizona moved to the balance beam for the third rotation and set a new season-high, 48.850. However, the Wildcats, who have improved their beam score each of the last three weks, would have to hit four-straight routines to set the new high following a fall by Erin Muirhead. Jamie Holton started the scoring off with a 9.650 before Muirhead’s fall, then Wurm got the Wildcats back on track with a 9.650. Taylor then earned a new season-best with a 9.800 score, while Bergeson  set a new personal-best score and captured her second-straight beam title with a mark of 9.900. Hicks set a new season-high, earning a second-place mark of 9.825.


The Wildcats wrapped up the meet on floor, led by Greene’s second-straight floor title with a mark of 9.875, which equaled her career-high. Hicks (9.800) claimed second-place with Washington’s Kristen Omori, while Holton matched her season-best score of 9.775 to place fourth. Muirhead bounced back from her beam performance to add a 9.750 to share fifth-place with Taylor.


Hicks claimed the third all-around title of her career with a season-high 39.175. Taylor scored a 39.075 to take second overall. Washington’s Haughting took third place with a 38.700, while Wurm finished fourth, totaling a 37.975.


Future Cats: Last November, Head Coach Bill Ryden announced the signing of three student-athletes who inked their names to National Letters of Intent to come to Arizona for the 2006-07 academic year. The future Wildcats are Brittney Morgan of Charlottesville, Va., Miranda Russell of Oshkosh, Wisc., and Jamie Custer of La Grange Park, Ill.


Looking ahead: The Wildcats will remain on the road for another week as the club takes on Stanford on Feb. 17 in Palo Alto, Calif.
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