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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona gymnastics goes through season of highs and lows

The+2015+Arizona+gymnastics+team+poses+for+a+photo+at+the+end+of+the+senior+night+ceremony+after+Arizonas+196.850-196.850+tie+with+Denver+in+McKale+Center+on+March+14.+The+season+was+full+of+highs+and+lows+for+the+Wildcats.
Rebecca Noble

The 2015 Arizona gymnastics team poses for a photo at the end of the senior night ceremony after Arizona’s 196.850-196.850 tie with Denver in McKale Center on March 14. The season was full of highs and lows for the Wildcats.

Arizona gymnastics focused on one motto throughout its season: Be relentless. Adversity struck the Wildcats often through injuries, but former Arizona coach Bill Ryden preached the team’s ability to overcome that adversity every time.

The season had its highs and lows. The Wildcats finished the year with a record of 15-7-1 and ranked No. 18 in the nation. They made it to their 29th consecutive regional appearance and placed fourth in the Columbus Regionals, an improvement from last season’s sixth-place finish. They claimed victories over Washington, ASU, California and Michigan State this season.

The Wildcats also boasted two gymnasts on the All-Pac-12 Conference team with Jessie Sisler and Allie Flores.

“I can’t say it enough: I’m just so proud of this team,” Ryden said in a press release. “They refused to give up, and they fought the entire season. They’ve earned everyone’s respect, and it’s been such a great year coaching them because of their attitude of never giving up. They’re a great group, and we’re so proud as coaches.”

But many questions loom for the team as it moves forward. First off, the Wildcats no longer have a head coach. According to Arizona Athletics, a national search is in play to find a replacement for Ryden, who stepped down on Thursday. The Wildcats also lose their senior leaders in Flores, Shay Fox and Amber Wobma.

But fans need not worry too much, because there will be opportunities for growth.

Sisler, a junior, became a GymCat sensation overnight after her floor performance in the Pac-12 Championships, in which she earned the floor title with a 9.950 and tied two of the best in the country. She was also named Female Junior of the Year at the C.A.T.S. Awards Banquet.

Freshmen Madison Cindric, Victoria Ortiz and Kennady Schneider performed well above expectations. Cindric had taken over for Flores in the all-around competition by the end of the season, while Schneider and Ortiz specialized in floor and bars, respectively.

The Wildcats will return 10 gymnasts to the program next season with three sophomores, three juniors and four seniors. Their highest total team score of the season was 197.125. The Wildcats also ranked in the top 25 in the nation in every event except vault.

Plus, the Wildcats will welcome at least four new teammates to their program. Charle Dembo, Skyler Sheppard, Brittany Robertson and Danielle Spencer are expected to enroll in the fall.

“I’m very excited about the experience, the skill level and the amount of gymnastics these girls are bringing in,” Ryden said in a press release back in November. “We certainly have very high level gymnastics walking through the door. I expect all of them to make an immediate impact on the team and bring a lot of polished gymnastics with them.”

There is no doubt the season was still a success. The Wildcats were young and still managed to compete against some of the top programs in the nation. Ryden was confident they could compete with the highest level of competition, and he was right. But one thing is certain: Ryden no longer holds Arizona’s reigns. The dictionary definition of relentless is “persistent” and “continuing without becoming weaker.” The GymCats most certainly were.

Now the real question: How will the Wildcats return next season?

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