CHICAGO, Ill. – The No. 17 University of Arizona gymnastics team defeated Illinois-Chicago, 194.750-190.000 in the season opener Saturday evening. The Cats took five event titles, including ties with UIC in bars.
“We have a really good team – a very experienced team,” head coach Bill Ryden said. “They did a great job for their first time out. For three events we were on cloud nine. It’s nice to do okay but we should have been close to a 196.000. But overall, we had a lot of good performances. A lot of people came through in the clutch, including our freshmen. ”
The Cats began the afternoon on bars, earning a team total of 48.700.
“Overall, we are a very talented bars team. It was our first event of the year. Taking that score on bars was good.”
Junior Allie Flores led the team with a 9.800 score on bars. Flores tied for first place in the event. Sophomore Lexi Mills and freshman Krysten Howard provided the team with two scores of 9.750. Also making contributions were senior Jordan Williams and Gabby Laub with scores of 9.725 and 9.675, respectively.
The Cats continued onto vault for the second event of the evening and scored a team total of 48.975. Arizona had the top three scores on vault with Kristin Klarenbach, Edwards and Williams.
“We feel like we have a vault team that should score over 49.000 every time and we were very close to that tonight,” Ryden said. “We made a lot of changes in the line-up before the meet began.”
Leading the team on vault were junior Klarenbach and sophomore Shelby Edwards each with a score of 9.850. Williams added to the mix with a 9.800. Making a debut in the vault line-up was sophomore Jessie Sisler who scored a 9.750. Freshman Mackenzie Valentin began her vaulting career with a 9.725.
With a running score of 97.675, the Cats continued to their third rotation, floor.
Klarenbach led the team with a 9.900. Sisler and Williams added a pair of 9.850 scores. Flores and Sangston also provided scores of 9.800 and 9.775, respectively.
“It looks like once again floor is going to be our best event,” Ryden said. “Obviously, Kristin Klarenbach showing up here with a 9.900 on the road – what else can you say? She’s been great.”
The final on floor for the Cats was 49.175. Arizona earned the event title with top-three finishes from Klarenbach, Williams and Sisler.
Despite three falls on beam, Arizona was able to pull-through on the final event of the meet with a score of 47.900.
“You have to be able to bring it home,” Ryden said. “The thing is to have a really good meet going and then have three falls on beam, we expect more from ourselves than that. We are going to have to regroup, figure out what went wrong and make the changes in practice.”
On beam, Williams won the title event with a score of 9.850. Edwards took second with a 9.825. Wobma added a score of 9.700 for the Cats. Mills earned a score of 9.275 and both Flores and Sisler provided a pair of 9.250 scores.
Williams was the only all-around competitor for the Wildcats. In her first meet of the season, Williams won the all-around title by a margin of 0.175.
“I’m very proud of Jordan (Williams),” Ryden said. “She had a great start and a great meet.”
From here, Arizona will travel to No. 6 Stanford for a tri-meet including Sacramento State on Sunday, Jan. 19 at 3 p.m. MST. For continued coverage of Arizona Gymnastics, follow the team at facebook.com/ArizonaGymnastics and on Twitter @AZGymnastics.