March 18, 2011
Despite some difficulties in the early season, the No. 24 Arizona Women’s Gymnastics team has shown consistent improvement and should make a strong showing at tomorrow’s Pac-10 Conference Championships in Los Angeles. With an RQS score of 194.628 and a season high 195.625, the Cats have a shot at a great start to the postseason.
Arizona is set to start the night on bars; a strong event for the Wildcats this season. The bar team has proven itself to be one of the most consistent in years, contributing to a season high total of 49.300 against UIC. As a whole, the entire bar team has been incredibly successful, with 45 scores of 9.700 or better, 21 scores of 9.800 or better, and two scores of 9.90.
Both of the scores of 9.90 have been posted by Miranda Russell, one of the leading contributors for the Cats in her senior season. Other leading scorers for the bar team include junior Deanna Graham, with four scores of 9.800 or better, and sophomore Molly Quirk who bolsters a high of 9.875 on the event.
The Wildcats’ second event of the night will be beam. Beam has been a little bit of a struggle for Arizona this season, but when the team hits, they are dangerous. Ranked No. 20 on the event, the team holds an RQS score of 48.690. The team also posted a season high 49.200 – the second total highest event score earned this season.
One Wildcat to watch is junior Katie Matusik, who has had a sort of “coming out party on beam,” according to head coach Bill Ryden. Matusik has posted two scores of 9.90 or better this season in the event, including a career high 9.925 against BYU on the road.
As far as floor is concerned, the Cats should have a shot at a consistent score. If they compete to their potential, Arizona has a chance at earning one of the top three floor totals of the night. The Cats are stacked with a lot of talent on the event, and if they can avoid nickel and diming themselves with deductions, they could score in the upper 49’s.
The top three competitors in the event come at the end of the lineup. Sophomore Aubree Cristello should make a dent, scoring a 9.800 or better in six out of eight meets this season, including one score of 9.90. Graham is another top contributor on the event, with five scores of 9.825 or higher and one score of 9.90. Graham is also coming off of a first-place finish on floor in the last regular season meet. Holding a season and career high 9.925 on floor is Russell, who normally closes the lineup.
After floor, the Cats will wrap up the competition on vault – a historically strong event for the team. According to Ryden, Arizona has eight legitimate vaulters. The final lineup will be determined based upon the pre-meet practice and warm up sessions.
One vaulter who will be in the lineup for sure is Graham. Graham has a career total of six scores of 9.90 or better on the event. She is also coming off of setting a new career high of 9.925 in the quad meet hosted at McKale.
Overall, the Pac-10 Championships are a huge opportunity for the Wildcats. If Arizona can hit its routines and stay focused on the little details, it has the talent and potential to make a huge dent this weekend.
What: The Pac-10 Championships
Where: Pauley Pavilion, UCLA, Los Angeles, Calif.
When: Saturday, March 19 at 4 p.m.
Cost: $14 for adults, $12 for students