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The Daily Wildcat

 

Ailing GymCats host first home meet of season

Courtesy+of+Arizona+Athletics

Courtesy of Arizona Athletics

The “next man up” philosophy is used in unison with injuries in collegiate sports. When one athlete goes down, the next one has to step up. 

Arizona women’s gymnastics is facing that exact challenge this season, as injuries have plagued the experienced team early in the season.

“We have had a lot of adversity in the fall,” UA women’s gymnastics coach Bill Ryden said. “But, the reality is this team refuses to hang its head. They are working their rear off and coaches are coaching their rear off and, despite some season ending injuries to some very good athletes, they are not conceding anything.”

The GymCats will host their first quad meet and home meet of the season this Friday against Illinois-Chicago, Sacramento State and Wisconsin-Stout in McKale Center. However, they will have to compete without much of their experience. Redshirt junior Danielle Buchanan, senior Kristin Klarenbach and senior Amber Wobma are currently injured, but Ryden and the rest of the GymCats have adapted to that adversity.

“As a team, just the next person in line has to show up,” Ryden said. “You just have to up your game. We have a lot of good athletes on this team and I’m confident that they can do it. We have some people competing in events that they have never competed in before. We will figure out a way.”

With the injuries, the three freshmen will have to step up. Newcomers Victoria Ortiz, Kennady Schneider and Madison Cindric have already competed against No. 4 Alabama in the GymCat’s opening 194.375-196.225 loss.

“A lot of our experience is hurt,” Ryden said. “There are three- and four-year members that will not compete. At this point in the year, all the girls need to be ready to go. Even the freshmen are going to get a lot of opportunities that maybe they weren’t going to get. They have shown that they are more than capable of stepping up and doing their job.”

Throughout all of this team’s obstacles, one gymnast has remained the leader. Senior Allie Flores, who finished in second place in the all-around competition against Alabama, expressed her excitement about playing in front of her home crowd.

“I’m really excited for us,” Flores said. “I think we have kind of a brand new team. There’s such a different dynamic, so I’m really excited to show it to our fans and that will hopefully get them excited about the rest of the season as well.”

A number of the GymCats said their fans will give them the extra boost to pull out the victory in their upcoming quad meet.
“They love competing in front of their home crowd,” Ryden said. “We have a very supportive and very passionate fan base that is always there for us.”

Even in the loss to Alabama, many of the GymCats shined in the spotlight. Junior Jessie Sisler was named Pac-12 Conference Specialist of the Week. Sisler was able to pull a score of 9.95 on beam against Alabama, earning her a first-place finish against the Crimson Tide. Also contributing were junior Lexi Mills and sophomore Gabby Laub on bars.

Arizona’s upcoming opponents may keep them on their toes, but Flores is confident in her team’s ability to compete.

“If we do what we do in practice and stay positive and motivated and healthy and everybody does what they are supposed to do, I think we can win easily,” Flores said.

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Follow Matt Wall on Twitter.

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