TUCSON, Ariz. - The Arizona women's gymnastics team hosted a crowd of 1,607 for the home season opener against Oregon State. The Cats fell to the Beavers 194.375 to 194.825.
"The meet tonight was rough. It wasn't our sharpest. The team was really pumped to perform for the home crowd, but I think we just let it get to our heads. Tonight was a learning experience; we learned lessons on every event." Head coach Bill Ryden commented, "We left a lot of scoring out there, and we'll definitely take way a lot of lessons from tonight. It's still early in the season, but certainly we'll regroup on Monday and try for a much better focused effort in next week's meet."
Despite the loss, several routines shone above the rest as the Wildcats earned three event titles upon the conclusion of the meet.
One of those event titles was Deanna Graham, who tied her career high vault score of 9.925 with a full twisting hand front. A video of this vault is featured at the bottom of this page.
"It's fun to see new gymnastics that is so hard that most people won't even attempt it. You have to give kudos to Deanna, not just for the score - the score was great - but just doing a skill that hard that you normally don't see people attempt it. It's one of the most difficult vaults in the country right now. A senior, doing one of the hardest vaults in the nation - old dogs really can learn new tricks." Ryden said.
The Cats then rotated to bars, where they posted a team score of 48.325. Graham kept her momentum, earning a 9.800. Earning a new career high and taking first on the event was senior Katie Matusik, with a score of 9.875.
"I couldn't be more proud of Katie, just simply looking back at her freshman year and what she came in with. We've fussed around with a lot of different routines but she just works so hard and wants to be so good. It's to the point now where you literally have to search sometimes for deductions." Ryden said, "It's just beautiful to watch, and she got paid for that today. I know she's proud of her score, and I'm definitely proud of her bar score."
Beam marked the leading return of junior Molly Quirk, who posted the team high score of 9.800 to help the team to a total of 48.500. Other major contributors included sophomore Jordan Williams, who started the rotation with a 9.725, and Matusik, who closed the rotation with a 9.725.
"It was great to have Molly back on beam. She was very anxious to go get back into the competition. Her beam was great except for the step on the landing. When she can go 9.800 with an obvious hop you know she's doing something right." Ryden said.
On floor, the Cats earned a team total of 48.775. Senior Rebecca Cardenas started the team off strong, posting a score of 9.825. Katie Matusik was also a main contributor, earning a score of 9.700 followed by sophomore Aubree Cristello with a 9.850.
The highlight of the event, however, was Graham, who earned yet another score of 9.925 to win the event.
"Deanna was on a mission. She was ready to have a wonderful meet, despite wearing a splint on her hand the entire night. She wanted to be back in all of the lineups, and as a result she had a meet that matched two of her career high event scores, and almost a new career high in the all-around." Ryden said.
Graham ended up posting an all-around total of 39.300 to take second in the meet. Cristello also competed all-around, taking sixth overall.
"You just can't have the types of event totals we had tonight and be successful at the top level. We know that, and this is just one of many meets. If nothing else, it will definitely leave that sour taste that we will build on as we move forward." Ryden said.
The Cats have a few days to build, as they head to Tempe next Friday, January 27 to take on in-state rival Arizona State.