TUCSON, Ariz. – The Arizona women’s gymnastics team defeated the Washington Huskies, 196.500-195.175, on Saturday night in McKale Center. Arizona scored its highest beam score of the season in the win.
“Overall, we didn’t have the sharpest start,” head coach Bill Ryden. “I would consider vault as having been average. Bars were average to rough, so I was a little concerned going into beam. The fact that we can come back with that kind of beam energizes the team and solidifies our confidence. If we had a rough routine I don’t know how floor would have looked. I have to say beam won us this meet.”
The Wildcats began the meet on vault where they were led by sophomore Shelby Edwards with a score of 9.875. Edwards took the first place title for the event followed by Mackenzie Valentin with a second place tie. Valentin posted a score of 9.800. Freshman Gabby Laub made her vault debut and received a score of 9.750, as did Amber Wobma and Kristin Klarenbach. The Cats finished the rotation with a 48.925.
“We were solid on vault,” Ryden said. “Over this last week, Gabby (Laub) worked a lot on vault trying to improve from last week’s exhibition. She did very well for her debut. I’ve been saying it after each meet, but without our freshmen we aren’t the same team.“
The Cats moved to bars from there and scored a total of 49.025. The highest score of the night came from junior Allie Flores who received a 9.875 and tied for a first place finish. Sophomores Edwards and Lexi Mills both contributed scores of 9.800, while freshmen Laub and Krysten Howard scored 9.775.
“There were some rough spots that aren’t usually there,” Ryden said. “Allie stepped up as she usually does. She’s having a great season. She’s our top bar worker and she’s showing it.”
The Cats moved to beam with a running score of 97.950 to lead Washington.
“We are talented on beam,” Ryden said. “We are just showing that now. It’s nice for the team and for Coach Randi (Acosta). We’ve changed some training techniques and things are rolling the right direction.”
Junior Shay Fox posted a season high score of 9.875 to lead Arizona. Fox tied for first place, her first career title. Flores also scored a season high and contributed a 9.850. Edwards scored a 9.825 while Senior Shana Sangston and Amber Wobma rounded out the event with twin scores of 9.800. The Cats scored a beam total of 49.150, their highest of the season thus far.
“Shay’s story is one of those great stories,” Ryden said. “I called her in August of 2012 and asked her to be manager after she had attended some of our practices having known former gymnast Katie Matusik. At the end of last year she wanted to try out after three years of retirement. For her to come back to do this, it’s just a great story.”
The Cats moved to floor with a running total of. 147.100. The Cats had Kristin Klarenbach and Allie Flores tie for first on floor where they both received scores of 9.900. Flores tied her career high, which she received last meet against No. 1 Oklahoma. Wobma and Valentin tied for third in the event with scores of 9.875, which is also a season high mark for Valentin. Felix-Terrazas contributed a score of 9.850 to round out the event.
“Floor was fantastic,” Ryden said. “I like what we’re doing. We have so much difficulty and are hitting each time. The routines are great. For me, it’s fun to watch, and I know it’s fun for the team and crowd as well.“
From here, Arizona will travel over the next three weeks beginning in Salt Lake City to compete against No. 4 Utah on Friday, Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. MST. Then, the GymCats will travel to Dallas, Texas, to take on three ranked teams, Oklahoma, LSU and Kentucky, on Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. For continued coverage of Arizona Gymnastics, follow the team at facebook.com/ArizonaGymnastics and on Twitter @AZGymnastics.