BERKELEY, Calif. – The Arizona women’s gymnastics team finished Session II of the Pac-12 Championships in second place, ahead of ASU and Washington, with a team total of 196.250. Overall, the Wildcats finish the Pac-12 season in sixth place for the second time in a row.
Two Arizona gymnasts, sophomore Shelby Edwards and junior Allie Flores won the Pac-12 Vault title with scores of 9.950. This is the first time the program has earned a conference title since 2002.
“I’m very pleased about this meet,” head coach Bill Ryden said. “I was frustrated with the conservative start on bars. It could have been that it was the first event out and we were cold, but the team didn’t worry about it. It’s our first complete road meet of the year without a doubt. I can’t argue that. It’s a great end to conference play.”
The University of Utah took the Pac-12 title with a team total of 197.925. Stanford took the second place title and in an upset, Cal took over the third place title during their performance in the second session.
The Wildcats began the night on bars where they compiled a team total of 48.700. Despite some difficulties including one fall, the Cats were able to finish the rotation without counting a fall in their final score.
Leading the Wildcats was Edwards with a score of 9.825. Freshman Krysten Howard and all-around competitor Flores both earned twin scores of 9.750. Gabby Laub and Lexi Mills finished off Arizona scoring with scores of 9.700 and 9.675, respectively.
“Bars was a rough start,” Ryden said. “It put us in a hole that we had to spend the rest of the meet digging ourselves out of.”
In unconventional order, the Wildcats moved to beam. The team earned a total of 49.025.
Mills tied her career high to lead the Wildcats with a 9.875. Close behind, Edwards recorded her second score of the night with 9.850. Junior Amber Wobma earned a 9.800 to start off the lineup and both Sangston and Flores contributed a 9.775 to close Arizona scoring.
“Beam did great,” Ryden said. “Shana came through in the end to make sure we didn’t count a fall. It was an example of pure team gymnastics. Lexi had a beautiful set. She really regrouped after a fall on Monday. I give her credit for coming back so strong.”
With the second half of the meet at hand, the Wildcats moved to floor trailing behind Cal and ASU. On floor, the team was able to rack up a total of 49.100.
Making a big impact for the Cats was Kristin Klarenbach who picked up her eighth score of 9.900 or better with her score of 9.900. She tied for fifth place overall. Flores earned a 9.850 to follow. From there, the scores followed with a 9.800 and 9.775, which were earned by freshman Mackenzie Valentin and Shay Fox, respectively. Sangston rounded out the scoring with her earned score of 9.725.
“Kristin did a great job,” Ryden said. “It was a fantastic floor routine. It’s about people rising to the occasion and that’s what all of the girls did. They knew we needed good scores and they made sure to give their best effort.”
Entering the final rotation of vault, the Wildcats stayed in third place, ahead of Washington. With a huge effort from the lineup, three career high scores were earned, shooting the Wildcats to second place in Session II and providing the team their season high score of 49.425.
Both Flores and Edwards set career highs with scores of 9.950. Valentin also set a career high with a 9.900. Klarenbach and Laub rounded out the scoring for the team’s season high beam score with 9.825 and 9.800, respectively.
“The last two weeks we have been vaulting lights out,” Ryden said. “They’ve been working on control and technique. It’s paying off. They’re willing to stick their landings and it’s showing up. We had three great routines. All were great but those three scores of 9.900 and above were all about stuck landings.”
“We haven’t had a conference champion in many years and it’s great for the program,” Ryden added. “It’s something so well-deserved and it just goes to show the athleticism and skill that our team has.”
As the lone Wildcat all-around competitor, Flores earned a 39.325 for a fifth place tie between both sessions.
This marks the end of the Pac-12 season for the Wildcats. On Monday, March 24, the NCAA will host a selection show indicating where Arizona will travel to for NCAA Regionals. Regionals will be held on Saturday, April 5. For continued coverage of Arizona gymnastics, follow on Twitter @AZGymnastics and Facebook.com/ArizonaGymnastics.