TUCSON, Ariz. ?- The No. 14 Arizona women’s gymnastics team (196.300) gave No. 2 Florida a major scare (196.625), while holding off Brigham Young (194.575) Friday night before a season-high 1,096 fans in McKale Center.
Arizona gymnasts won at least a share of three individual titles, while the team broke the 196-barrier for the first time season. Additionally, Wildcat gymnasts set or matched six personal-best marks, while the team set season-highs on both vault and floor.
“We certainly would have loved to have won the meet,” head coach Bill Ryden said following the meet. “But to come within three-tenths of a point to the No. 2 team in the country is something to be very proud of. Florida is a great team and now we know where we stack up.”
The Wildcats and Gators battled neck and neck through the first three rotations before Florida pulled away on vault in the final rotation. Arizona held a 98.3-98.1 lead after two rotations, and trailed Florida 147.25-147.1 after three rotations. The Gators hung on for the victory however, despite Arizona posting a season-best 49.2 on floor to close the meet.
The Wildcats got off to a fast in the first rotation, shattering their previous season-high of 48.975 with a new high score of 49.225. Named Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week for her performance a week ago, junior Jamie Holton showed no signs of a let down, sharing first place with a new career-high mark of 9.925, which ties for 10th highest in school history. Freshman Bree Workman also set a new career-high score with a 9.875, while sophomore Rachelle Silberg matched her season-best score of 9.825. Alexis Greene and Karin Wurm added scores of 9.8, respectively.
“Jamie’s vault certainly set the tone and got us the momentum from the get-go,” Ryden said of Holton’s vault, which is a new team-high for the season.
Also in the first rotation, Florida turned in a team score of 49.075 on the bars. Ashley Reed and Corey Hartung led the Gators 9.850s, respectively, while Samantha Lutz earned a 9.825. For the Cougars on beam, Alethea Boon and Kandis Kelly each recived team-high scores of 9.775. The Cougars finished with a team score of 48.575.
In the second rotation, the Wildcats scored a 49.075 on bars to mark the first time this season the club has scored a 49.0 or better on vault and bars in the same meet. Aubrey Taylor paced Arizona, capturing the title with a 9.9, her fourth 9.9 of the season. Karin Wurm tallied a 9.850 to share second place honors, while Danielle Hicks and Alexis Greene chipped in marks of 9.825 and 9.80. Freshman Suzanne Alvey competed in the bars lineup officially for the first time in her career, posting a 9.700.
Florida wouldn’t give much ground, however, as the Gators scored a 49.025 on beam. Hartung led the way with a 9.875, while Chantelle Tousek added a 9.850. BYU struggled a bit on floor, scoring a 48.250, but were paced by Kacie Capra’s 9.825 score.
Arizona moved the balance beam for the third rotation and relied on some clutch performances following a fall by Holton to start the rotation. Senior Erin Muirhead got the Wildcats back on track, posting a score of 9.675. Wurm and Taylor then each tallied 9.725 marks, before Bergeson and Hicks finished with two strong routines. Bergeson recorded a 9.825, while Hicks capped the rotation with a 9.850 to share second place in the event.
“I think the big plus of the night for us is the fact that we had a fall to start both bars and beam, but then the last five girls stepped it up and hit,” Ryden said. “Of course, we don’t want any falls, but it shows the character of the girls.”
Arizona totaled a 48.800 on beam, but Florida made up ground on floor with a team score of 49.150. Reed and Nicola Willis each earned 9.85s to help the Gators to a 1.5-point advantage over the Wildcats. BYU remained in third place after the third rotation, as the team scored a 48.6 on vault.
The Wildcats turned in a season-high 49.200 on floor as Taylor (9.9) and Wurm (9.875) claimed the top two spots in the event. Hicks also added a 9.85, while Muirhead and Holton chipped in marks of 9.8 and 9.775, respectively.
The Gators would not let the Wildcats get any closer, however, as Florida finished the meet with a 49.375 on vault. Tiffany Murry tallied a 9.925 to tie UA’s Holton for the individual title. Hartung and Rue each scored a 9.875 to lead the Gators to the victory.
In the all-round, UF’s Hartung (39.425) and Reed (39.300) claimed the top two spots. UA’s Wurm matched her career-high with a 39.250 to place third. For BYU, Capra totaled a 38.975 to finish just ahead of UA’s Taylor (38.950), who returned to the all-around after not competing on vault a week ago.
“The 196 will definitely help us,” Ryden said. “But what I’m most proud of is that it reflects the level we’re at. It’s nice to be able to live up to the level we expect to be at. I’m confident we’re learning to stay loose and compete. This team is so young, but we’re starting to compete like an experienced squad.”
Arizona will host its final home meet of the year next Friday, March 10. The program will honor the Wildcat’s lone senior, Erin Muirhead, as well as undergraduate assistant coach Jessamyn Salter in a ceremony following the meet. The meet is set to begin at 7:30 p.m. (MST) in McKale Center as Cal-State Fullerton, Southeast Missouri and Denver visit Tucson.