Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Cats Put Out Flames
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: February 04, 2011
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Feb. 4, 2011

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 TUCSON, Ariz. - The Arizona Women's Gymnastics team shone in their pink leotards, posting a season high score of 195.400 to top the University of Illinois-Chicago Flames (193.450).

The Cats began the night on vault, starting the meet with a strong season high score of 49.025. Sophomore Molly Quirk started out the lineup for the team, earning a 9.700. From there the scores went up consistently, with freshman Shana Sangston tying her career high of 9.725 with the third highest score in the meet, sophomore Mykle Douglas and senior Miranda Russell both posting scores of 9.800 to tie for second place, and sophomore Aubree Cristello and junior Deanna Graham both earning 9.850's, tying for first place overall.

"Vault had its own issues, we didn't end up competing the lineup we originally intended, pulling Jordan and Molly. After all of that, I was very impressed with how the team came together and the vault effort as a whole. The team did a great job of flowing through it and rolling with the punches, and came out with a fantastic score," head coach Bill Ryden said.

The Wildcats took this momentum and swung with it, earning a season high bars score of 49.300 - just 0.025 off of the tenth highest score of Arizona history on the event.

"We've always felt like we've had bar talent, and we're getting better; tonight was really on. Every girl really stepped up, and bars was fun. It was a great night for landings and all of the little things and it really made bars an enjoyable event," Ryden said.

Junior Katie Matusik was a solid starter for the team, earning a career high score of 9.775. The highs just kept on coming after that, with junior Britnie Jones posting a season high 9.825, Cristello with a career high 9.875, Quirk with a career high 9.875, and Graham with a career high 9.850. Russell completed the lineup with a solid 9.875, sticking her routine and closing out one of the best Arizona bar performances in several years. Cristello, Quirk, and Russell tied for first with their bar scores, while Graham earned the second place spot. Jones joined the podium as well, taking third.

"As a group all of these girls have been working on all of the little details to make their routines better. It's hard to even separate out who had the best performance; the girls came out strong, and hungry and I was impressed with how it all came together tonight," Ryden said.

The Cats had a little bit of an off night on the beam, totaling a team score of 48.350.  Despite the lower team score however, there were still a number of highlights, including Matusik earning a new career high score of 9.900 and winning the event.

"To score like this has been a personal goal of Katie's for a long time. Now that we've finished tweaking her routine you can tell that she's confident, and her routine is no longer a routine. It is a performance," Ryden said.

Other highlights included sophomore Ellen Pitluck's home debut on the event, earning a solid 9.775 - three tenths higher than her previous career high on beam, and enabling her to tie for second place with Cristello.

"It is unfortunate that we had to count a fall on beam after such a strong first half of the meet. On a positive note though, Ellen wasn't even scheduled to compete tonight and when we were five minutes into the beam warmup we threw her into the lineup," Ryden said. "I'm proud that she was able to rise to the occasion and compete so well, especially after only expecting to watch tonight."

It seemed as though Cristello piggy-backed off of Matusik's beam success, posting the second score of 9.90 of the meet for a career high on floor to take second place.

"Aubree's tumbling is so difficult; she's just a great floor performer. Every routine of hers gets better and better," Ryden said.

Graham took third place, with a score of 9.775.

The highlight of floor, however, was Russell, who earned the meet high score as well as a career high floor score of 9.925 on floor, enabling the team to total a score of 48.725 on the event.

"I'm just so proud of this kid. Miranda's coming back off of two knee injuries, and look at her vault and floor. She's really having a good time, and she's having a great senior season," Ryden said.

The team had two all-around competitors; Graham and Cristello. Graham posted a 38.750, while Cristello earned a career high 39.400 to earn a spot in the Arizona All-Time Top Performances.

"Aubree has one of the more difficult floor routines in the country, her bars has improved, and her vault is huge," Ryden said. "Aubree Cristello is money. Even better, she's consistent, and tonight exemplified that."

"I think we answered the question if we could score a 196; we counted two falls and were able to score a 195.400. We can't continue to do that though; we need to hit routines. The good thing is that we are still young, and we still have two months left in season to make it happen. It shows that we've grown, but it also shows that we still need to grow some more," Ryden said.


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