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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Gymcats need balancing act against OSU

    Ranked near the top 10 nationally in nearly every event, the Arizona gymnastics team turns its focus this weekend to the one event that’s been its hindrance this season: the uneven bars.

    UA head coach Bill Ryden said a lack of depth has forced his No. 16 Gymcats (1-1, 0-1 Pacific 10 Conference) to struggle in the event the last two meets, including Sunday’s loss to then-No. 7 UCLA

    Ryden noted the situation as a key to Arizona’s 7:30 meet in McKale Center tonight against No. 13 Oregon State (1-1, 1-0).

    This year’s lineup on bars does not include junior Danielle Hicks and senior Jamie Holton, both of whom are nursing shoulder injuries. The team is also coping with the loss of sophomore Alexis Greene, who competed on bars in all 13 meets in 2006 but is out for the rest of this season after rupturing her Achilles tendon in practice Jan. 18.

    “”We really need the freshmen and sophomores to grow fast,”” Ryden said. “”There’s going to be no bringing them along slowly with kid gloves.

    “”At this point it doesn’t matter what class you are; you have to compete like a veteran.””

    Inexperience may have caused the team to lose confidence after a bad first rotation Sunday, one of the main factors in Arizona’s defeat, said senior Aubrey Kelly.

    “”Probably 90 percent of the mistakes that were made were mental,”” Kelly said. “”This team has incredible amounts of talent. All we need to back it up is the confidence.””

    But the Gymcats might have the advantage tonight because the home team always starts on vault, and Arizona’s vault lineup is far from shallow.

    The Gymcats are currently No. 10 in the nation on vault, with an average score of 48.975.

    “”I think we’ll come off of vault with some good scores and on a roll,”” Ryden said. “”That first event really can set the tone.””

    Another team strength is the floor exercise, where the Wildcats rank No. 11nationally. During the team’s first meet at then-No. 22 Michigan State, Arizona scored a 49.075 on floor exercise, nearing 2006’s season high of 49.125.

    Balance beam has been a low-scoring event for Arizona this year, but Ryden said he expects the team to grow steadier as the season progresses.

    The Wildcats are anchored by Hicks. Despite the shoulder injury that’s keeping her off the bars, she is ranked No. 14 nationally with a 9.837 average on beam.

    While Arizona was devastated after UCLA, the team has been able to turn that loss into a learning opportunity, as the coaches are still adjusting routines and lineups, Hicks said.

    “”Because we have so much depth, (we’re) just trying to find the right chemistry between each girl on each event,”” Hicks said. “”So once we figure out what works best where … we’ll be able to use it to our full advantage.””

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