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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Gymcats face road test, seek to mend mistakes”

    The No. 8 Arizona gymnastics team will try to fine-tune its efforts when it meets No. 7 UCLA Sunday.

    The Wildcats (1-0) are hoping for a repeat oflast season, when then-No. 14 Arizona upset then-No. 6 UCLA 195.350-194.700 in McKale Center.

    But this time the Bruins (1-2, 1-1 Pacific 10 Conference) have the home-gym advantage, which may make the difference again, said UA head coach Bill Ryden.

    “”At home, you always have that added incentive of wanting to do well in front of your own fans,”” he said. “”I would expect nothing but the best effort from UCLA.””

    We’ve been working a lot on our fine-detail executions … landings and getting full credit for skills.
    – Bill Ryden,
    UA head coach

    Arizona kicked off its season Jan. 12 with a win at then-No. 22 Michigan State, but there are many improvements to be made, Ryden said.

    “”We’ve been working a lot on our fine-detail executions … landings and getting full credit for skills,”” he said. “”It’s stuff we typically work on anyway, but those were the areas that cost us the most last weekend.””

    The Wildcats struggled on bars and beam in East Lansing, Mich., and narrowly defeated the Spartans, which recorded a couple of falls on the floor rotation.

    That Arizona made mistakes and still achieved a high score is telling of its potential, said senior Aubrey Kelly, who finished third in the all-around.

    “”I’m just glad I have something to improve on, so it can only get better,”” she said.

    Although the Wildcats performed well on vault and floor at Michigan State, they could still better their execution and landings to post a better score Sunday, said senior Jamie Holton, who tied for first on vault and the floor exercise.

    “”I want to stick my landings a little cleaner and just make it a little bit better so that the little things add up to the bigger score,”” she said.

    Extra points could make a huge difference against UCLA, a team that boasts several elite gymnasts, including sophomore Kristina Comforte – the second highest ranked freshman in the nation in the all-around in 2006 – and junior Tasha Schwikert, a member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic team and current Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week.

    In her collegiate career, Schwikert has scored perfect 10s on both bars and floor, while Comforte boasts a 10 on vault and finished second in that event at the 2006 NCAA Championships. Incidentally, that year, the Bruins failed to qualify for nationals as a team for the first time since 1991.

    Competing against individuals of Schwikert’s and Comforte’s quality will be exhilarating, said Arizona freshman Brittney Morgan.

    “”We’re all at the same level now,”” she said. “”They were Olympians, but now they’re just like me and everyone else.””

    Although the Bruins may have the support of their home crowd – which Holton said is boisterous and hostile to visitors – Kelly said she thinks Arizona has the upper hand in terms of skill.

    “”I definitely feel that the team is … more hungry to be one of the better teams in the country,”” she said. “”I feel like the excitement’s building. I know I’m feeling it, and I know everybody else is.””

    The meet will be broadcast free online at uclabruins.cstv.com at 3 p.m. and co-hosted by former Bruin Jamie Dantzscher, a member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic team whose sister, Janelle, is a sophomore at UCLA.

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