Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Arizona battles San Jose State Friday in McKale Center
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: June 22, 2004
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What's Coming Up The No. 23 Arizona women's gymnastics team (2-2, 0-2 Pac-10) returns home this week and will play host to the San Jose State Spartans (0-1) in a dual meet on Friday, Jan. 28, at 7:30 p.m., in the McKale Center. Then, the Wildcats will travel to Denver, Colo., for a tri-meet against the No. 18 University of Denver Pioneers (4-1) and the seventh-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers (1-2) on Sunday, Jan. 30, at 2 p.m., in Denver's Hamilton Gymnasium. Arizona's trip to Denver marks its second road trip this season, and the Cats are in search of their first road win. The 2000 season marks the third consecutive year that the UA will compete in a meet on Super Bowl Sunday. Coming off a 194.725-191.725 loss against the No. 19 Stanford Cardinal in their first road meet, the Wildcats (2-2 overall, 0-2 Pac-10) will look to sophomore Randi Liljenquist, freshman Nikki Beyschau and senior All-American Heidi Hornbeek for solid leadership in all four events and the all-around.

San Jose State is looking for its first win this week after losing a close meet to UC Davis, 187.950-187.425, on Jan. 17 in its season opener. Looking to Sunday's opponents, No. 18 Denver improved its record to 4-1 last weekend after winning the Rocky Mountain Open where the Pioneers topped Brigham Young, Air Force and CSU-Sacramento. Seventh-ranked Minnesota, who defeated Auburn in its season opener, is on a two-meet losing streak after dropping its last two meets to No. 6 Michigan and third-ranked Utah.


Head Coach Bill Ryden Says "This week, we expect to have Heidi Hornbeek back in the lineup, which will really help us in each event in terms of depth. It definitely will be nice to be home for one meet this weekend before we hit the road for a tri-meet on Sunday. We are going to have more options with the lineup, and we just want to rebound from last weekend's loss at Stanford and hit every routine."

Arizona's Last Action - The No. 23 University of Arizona women's gymnastics team fell to the No. 19 Stanford Cardinal, 194.275-191.275, last Friday in front of a crowd of 500, in Stanford's Burnham Pavilion. Arizona dropped to 2-2 overall and 0-2 in the Pac-10, while Stanford grabbed its first conference win and upped its record to 3-1 overall and 1-1 in the Pac-10.

Arizona scored a season-high team score of 48.675 on bars and a season-high 47.550 on beam, while five UA gymnasts set new career-high marks during the meet. Arizona took the top individual spots on bars and in the all-around, while Stanford swept the team events and the top individual spots in the four events.

Individually for the Wildcats, sophomore Randi Liljenquist led the Wildcat charge once again with a new career-high 38.825 in the all-around, giving her the first all-around title of her career. Liljenquist set a season-high 9.725 on bars, tied her season-high 9.800 on beam for a third-place finish, and she also took third place on floor with a 9.750. Freshman Nikki Beyschau looked impressive for a second consecutive week, scoring a career-high 9.900 on bars for a tie for first place. She also set career-high scores on beam (9.300), floor (9.700) and in the all-around (38.525).

Senior Kiernan Andrews lifted the Wildcats on beam with a new career-high 9.750 and third place in the event. Senior Gretchen Diaz scored a season-high 9.550 on vault. Junior Kara Fry set a season-high 9.775 on bars and a season-high 9.275 on beam, while fellow junior Heather Straccia scored a career-high 9.475 on vault. Sophomore Lindsay Compitello made her official collegiate debut in the meet, posting a 9.200 on beam and a 9.050 on floor.

About the San Jose State Spartans - Head coach Jackie Walter (Miami-Ohio, 1971) is in her 16th year at San Jose State where she has racked up a school record of 113-142-2 in 15 years, and she has a career record of 181-164-2 over a 23-year period. The 1999 Spartan squad finished 11-11 overall and were the Western Independent Champions. Walter's Spartan team returns four out of six letterwinners from last year's team.

San Jose State (0-1 overall) kicked off the 2000 season with a 187.425-187.950 loss to UC Davis on Jan. 17. Sophomore Tasya Talbot set a career-high 9.375 on bars, and sophomore Kimmy Cianci tied her career-high 9.600 on floor in the season opener. In her first meet as a Spartan, freshman Danielle Albright took the all-around title with a 38.350. Albright also won the vault (9.700), tied Talbot for first on beam (9.750) and placed second on bars (9.550). Sophomore Tracy Cheshier competed for the first time in nearly two years, and tied for second on vault with a 9.500.

About the Denver Pioneers - The Denver Pioneers (4-1 overall) entered the season ranked No. 15 in the preseason coaches' poll. Head coach Melissa Kutcher (Florida, 1993) is in her second year with the program, and she holds a school and career record of 15-4. Kutcher's 1999 squad closed out the season with a fourth-place finish in Region II and a No. 16 final national ranking. Nine out of 12 letterwinners have returned from last year's team.

No. 18 Denver recovered from a previous loss at Boise State with a win in the Rocky Mountain Open over Brigham Young (193.475), Air Force (189.800) and CSU-Sacramento (188.725) on Jan. 22 with a season-high score of 194.300. Denver gymnasts took the top spots in the all-around, vault and bars events, and the Pioneers posted a season-high 49.075 on bars. Junior Jenny Ebdon scored a 39.200 to win the all-around crown for the third time in three meets. She also scored a 9.875 on vault, receiving top honors in the event. Sophomore Melanie Schiff tied her career-high 9.925 on bars for the second-straight week, giving her the event title.

About the Minnesota Golden Gophers - Minnesota began the 2000 season ranked No. 14 in the preseason coaches' poll. Co-head coaches Jim Stephenson (Iowa State, 1973) and Meg Stephenson (Iowa State, 1981) are in their third season at the helm of the Golden Gopher program. They hold a 32-18-1 school record over the last two years, while Jim Stephenson has a career record of 105-93-1 over seven years. The 1999 Minnesota squad closed out the season with a 14-11-1 overall record and a tie for fourth place in Region II. The Golden Gophers, who finished in a tie for No. 16 in the national rankings, returned 10 out of 12 letterwinners, including All-American Judy Cavazos, from last year's team.

Last weekend, Minnesota (1-2 overall) fell to No. 3 Utah, 196.600-190.925, where Utah swept the top-three spots in all four events. Sophomore Megan Beuckens scored a 9.800 on floor, landing in a tie for fifth place, while fellow sophomore Catie Christensen finished in eighth with a 9.700. Freshman Kelly Watson, Minnesota's highest event finisher, tied for third on beam with a personal-best 9.800. Sophomore Mary Anne Kelley scored a season-high 9.750 on vault, finishing in fourth. Minnesota counted scores of 8.950 and 9.175 on beam, and the team finished with a team score of 46.975 on bars, Minnesota's lowest event total this season.

Liljenquist's Leadership - Although the Wildcats have experienced some growing pains in the early part of the season, sophomore sensation Randi Liljenquist has paced Arizona with consistent performances in the first two meets. She underwent voluntary elbow surgery last summer because she wanted to have a chance to compete on vault and in the all-around. Liljenquist scored a career-high 38.825 in the all-around on Jan. 21 at Stanford, where she won her first all-around competition and the third event title of her Wildcat career. Against Stanford, she set a season-high 9.725 on bars, tied her season-high 9.800 on beam for a second-place finish, and she landed in third place on floor with a 9.750. Liljenquist hit a 9.600 in her collegiate debut on vault against UCLA, Central Michigan and Iowa (1/14), and she tied her career-high 9.850 on floor, sharing first-place honors with senior Kiernan Andrews in the floor event.

Fabulous Freshman - Arizona's lone freshman Nikki Beyschau has lifted the Wildcats' team performance with consistent scores in each event, including the all-around, and she holds Arizona's top individual scores on vault (9.775) and bars (9.900). Against Stanford (1/21), Beyschau scored a career-high 9.900 on bars and tied for top honors in the event, winning her first event title. Beyschau also set career-high scores on beam (9.300), floor (9.700) and in the all-around (38.525) in the same meet. In her collegiate debut against UCLA (1/14), Beyschau tied for fifth place on both vault (9.775) and bars (9.750) and was Arizona's top finisher in the all-around with a 38.425.

All-American Heidi Hornbeek Senior Heidi Hornbeek is back for her fifth year to help lead the team to its first NCAA Championship berth in four years. The fifth-year senior did not compete at Stanford last weekend due to a nagging ankle injury, and she also saw limited action against UCLA (1/14), scoring a 9.700 on bars in her only event of the evening. Hornbeek, a six-time All-America selection and a seven-time All-Pac-10 honoree, returned to the Arizona lineup in 1999 after undergoing major shoulder surgery and racked up 32 impressive top-five finishes, including 12 first-place titles. She competed in 10 meets as an all-around performer and was the only Wildcat gymnast to reach the NCAA Championships after qualifying as the top at-large seed in the all-around. Hornbeek received All-America honors in the uneven bars, balance beam and all-around events at the 1999 NCAA Championships.

Cat Scratches - It is the second year in a row that the Cats have opened competition against a Pac-10 opponent... Arizona has six home meets, and the Wildcats only have to leave the state four times during the regular season... Nine UA opponents (UCLA, Michigan, Utah, Arizona State, Stanford, Oregon State, Minnesota, Denver, Washington) began the season ranked in the women's gymnastics preseason top-25 poll... Nine UA opponents (UCLA, Utah, Michigan, Minnesota, Arizona State, Washington, Denver, Stanford, Southern Utah) are currently ranked in the national poll (as of Jan. 18).

Arizona in the Rankings - Arizona dropped to No. 23 in the nation according to the Jan. 18 top-25 poll... The UA is ranked No. 11 nationally on floor and No. 23 on bars... Senior Kiernan Andrews and sophomore Randi Liljenquist are tied for No. 23 in the nation on floor exercise... The Wildcats began their second-straight season ranked No. 16 in the women's gymnastics preseason poll... Women's gymnastics rankings are posted every Tuesday evening at:

A Look at the 2000 Season
Jan. 14 vs. UCLA, Central Michigan, Iowa The 16th-ranked University of Arizona women's gymnastics team topped Central Michigan and Iowa, finishing in second place in its 2000 season home-opener on Jan. 14 in front of a crowd of 720, in the McKale Center. Arizona (2-1 overall, 0-1 Pac-10) scored a 192.675, while Central Michigan (4-2 overall, 1-0 Mid-American) recorded a 191.850, and Iowa (0-3 overall, 0-0 Big 10) ended the meet with a 190.775. Third-ranked UCLA (4-4 overall, 1-0 Pac-10) took the meet title with a score of 196.300, sweeping all four events and the all-around.

Arizona trailed UCLA and Iowa for three rotations, and the Cats were in third place with a score of 143.750 heading into the final rotation. Although Arizona experienced some falls on beam, the Cats roared back in the final rotation on floor with a team score of 48.925, which tied the 10th-highest floor score in Arizona history. Five UA gymnasts set or tied new career-high marks during the meet. UCLA gymnasts captured the top individual spots in all four events and the all-around, while two Arizona gymnasts tied for top honors on floor.

Individually for the Wildcats, sophomore Randi Liljenquist lifted the Cats on beam with a third-place score of 9.800, and she also tied senior Kiernan Andrews for first-place honors on floor, each with a score of 9.850. Liljenquist tied her career-high 9.850 on floor, while Andrews set a new career-high mark in the same event. Andrews also set a career-high 9.675 on beam.

The meet also marked Liljenquist's collegiate debut on vault, scoring a 9.600 in the event, and she ended the meet with a new career-best 38.400 in the all-around.

In her official collegiate debut, freshman Nikki Beyschau tied for fifth on both vault (9.775) and bars (9.750) and was the highest UA finisher in the all-around with a score of 38.425. Beyschau also scored a career-high 9.250 on beam and a career-high 9.650 on floor. Senior Lisa Heckel set a career-high 9.725 on bars, and junior Heather Straccia competed on vault for the first time in her career, scoring a 9.350.

Prowlin' With the Wildcats - Here's the upcoming broadcast schedule for Fox Sports Net Arizona's bi-weekly magazine show about University of Arizona athletics "Prowlin' with the Wildcats"... Thursday., Jan. 27, 7:30 p.m./Saturday, Jan. 29, 3 p.m. (replay); Wednesday, Feb. 9, 5 p.m./Friday, Feb. 11, 9 p.m. (replay); Wednesday, Feb. 23, 9 p.m./Friday, Feb. 25, 9 p.m. (replay).

A Look Ahead - Arizona hits the road for a "Super Bowl Sunday" triangular meet when the Wildcats battle the Denver Pioneers and the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Sunday, Jan. 30, at 2 p.m. The UA returns to the sweet confines of the McKale Center on Friday, Feb. 4 for its second-consecutive tri-meet when the Cats face the California Golden Bears and the Southern Utah Thunderbirds, at 7:30 p.m.

Bear Down Challenge Gymnastics