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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Hometown ‘Cat

There is a little extra roar in the crowd when Arizona gymnastics sophomore Deanna Graham is introduced at a meet. Graham is the only athlete on the roster from Tucson, and she has represented her hometown well in her first two years as a Wildcat.

She has grown into an all-around performer for the Gymcats, which wasn’t anticipated.

“”I didn’t expect her to grow into the all-around role so quickly,”” said UA head coach Bill Ryden. “”I knew that she would be a threat nationally on vault and floor, I have always known that. She was a two-time junior national champion on vault.””

Ryden is referencing Graham’s time at Springs Gymnastics, where she placed first on vault in 2007 and 2008 at nationals and second on floor at the 2007 nationals.

“”She has really grown. She has grown into a career maybe a little more than I have envisioned,”” Ryden said.

Ryden has high expectations for Graham heading into the off-season, and believes that she will continue to grow as an athlete.

“”If she increases the value of her bar routine she will be dangerous, there won’t be a weakness,”” Ryden said. “”She can be something special when this is all said and done.””

On whether she thought she would progress so quickly:

I knew when I came here I hadn’t reached my potential. I was really excited just coming here and learning more skills and having the opportunity of being coached by college-level coaches. I didn’t really know what I expected when I came here, but I knew that I hadn’t reached my potential yet, and I was excited to see what that could be.

On why she chose to come to Arizona:

I grew up in Tucson and I grew up watching the Gymcats compete. When I was looking at colleges, I did look other places. I actually didn’t go on any visits because I signed pretty early. I did meet with other coaches and stuff, and I just felt like this is where I should be and this is where my heart was.

On what it’s like to have the hometown support:

It’s really awesome being able to compete in front of everyone I grew up with. It’s fun seeing all the little girls that I worked out with, coming and supporting the Gymcats, because I remember being one of them. Looking out onto the floor and just dreaming that one day I can be out there … it’s really cool seeing that dream in those girls’ eyes too.

On what she needs to improve in the off-season:

Bars, that’s my weakest event right now. I will work on a release move on bars. Hopefully that will be the last piece to the puzzle and I’m excited to start working on that.

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