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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Gymcats eager to start season

It’s a new beginning for Arizona gymnastics, with a host of fresh faces and an entire season in front of them.

“”We feel pretty good,”” said head coach Bill Ryden. “”All the returners are definitely better than they were last year. We have more gymnasts right now than we did 12 months ago by far.””

The team competed in its first event last weekend in the Pacific 10 Conference preview at UCLA. With their No. 19 preseason ranking, the Gymcats finished in fourth place.

“”I’m sure there are a few more lessons that we need to learn, but for the most part, I was pretty happy with how we did, and how we are starting out the season,”” Ryden told Arizona Athletics.

With five freshmen in the fold, Ryden used this weekend as a chance to get them some experience at the collegiate level. It was also used to practice the new routines the team will be competing with this year.

“”It’s basically trial by fire,”” Ryden said. “”We put it out there, and they are going to get their nerves out. We have been looking good in the gym, but of course the competition environment is different. We may take a few lumps. It’s as much a learning experience as it is a competition experience.””

The team only lost one gymnast last year due to graduation, their leader, Sarah Tomczyk. That leadership void will be filled by redshirt senior Miranda Russell, who is coming back after her second knee surgery this offseason.

Russell is not the only gymcat who suffered a knee injury last year — Rebecca Cardenas missed all of last year with her knee problems.

“”They definitely have to sort of grow back into it (the gymnastics),”” Ryden said. “”Miranda (Russell), her second knee surgery was actually a cleanup thing so she is actually farther along. Becca (Cardenas) is actually training on all four events. She will probably be doing quite a bit once we get into February.””

Along with the incoming freshmen, the gymcats will have a familiar face along the sidelines. Former gymcat Randi Acosta is in her first year as the assistant coach.

“”It’s been awesome,”” Acosta said. “”It feels like I have never left. The girls have so much passion, and it makes my job easy because they want it so bad.””

The team has welcomed its new assistant with open arms, according to Ryden and Acosta. Ryden said the entire team already knew Acosta because of how close the alumni are with the current roster, and the family atmosphere that they have created.

The team has a quick turnaround as it heads to Utah to compete against Utah State on Friday.

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