April 5, 2013
COLUMBUS, Ohio – After a difficult Pac-12 Championship meet, the No. 18 Arizona women’s gymnastics team is looking for redemption in this week’s NCAA Columbus Regional. Seeded No. 3 in the competition, the Wildcats need to hit a complete meet to earn a berth to the 2013 NCAA National Championships.
Based on seedings, the Cats will compete in the same rotation order as at Pac-12’s, beginning on a bye and then competing floor, vault, bye, bars and beam. Starting with this bye is favorable according to head coach Bill Ryden, as the team will be able to compete “with less breaks, opening the door for momentum more similar to a regular season meet.” It also means the Cats can leave their mark with the audience, as they will be the last to perform on beam.
That being said, to make a mark the team needs to start with event number one: floor. With nine scores of 49.000 or better to contribute to a No. 17 national ranking, the leg event has typically been one of the team’s strongholds. Every athlete on the event bolsters a season high of 9.850 or better, with the latter half of the lineup consistently posting 9.900 or better. As a whole, these routines have been incredibly successful; throughout the season 41 scores of 9.800 or better have been earned (12 of which have been 9.900 or better). Should the floor team hit, the Cats could be off to a dangerous start.
Another place Arizona is a threat is vault. At the Pac-12 Championships the team used vault to pull themselves out of a scoring hole, rallying for a 49.200. Sophomore Shelby Edwards have broken out in their first season on the event, each contributing to the team total every meet they have competed. Buchanan has yet to score below a 9.800 on the event, and Edwards currently bolsters an average of 9.84. Another consistent contributor is senior Aubree Cristello, who has earned five scores of 9.900 on the event this season alone.
After vault, the team will sit through a bye and prepare for bars. For the Cats, bars is the event with the least amount of depth but an immense amount of talent. Sophomores usually bookend the lineup, with Buchanan and Shelby Edwards as well as junior Jordan Williams. Though they have had some issues with consistency, when these athletes hit, they hit hard. Mills bolsters a 9.825 career high, Edwards earned a 9.800 in her first appearance on the event and Williams earned the team’s highest score at the Conference Championship with a 9.850. The only senior in the lineup, Cristello is the most consistent contributor with six scores of 9.800 or better under her belt this season.
Arizona will conclude the evening on beam, where they currently hold an RQS of 48.995. This particular event started off slow for the Wildcats this season, but has steadily gained momentum with one of the best showings taking place at Pac-12’s. The beam team has been doing some of its best routines this season in the last few weeks. Should the same six girls put out similar or better performances, the team will be able to wrap up the last rotation on a high note.
The overall determining factor of the meet will be putting out 24 solid routines. The work has been put in and the talent is there. The Cats have shown meet in and meet out the potential they have for excellence; if they can come out and compete with confidence they can create an opportunity to move forward in the post season.