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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Eldest Gymcat not finished yet

    Being the only senior citizen in a classroom can have its downfalls. The teacher may work at too fast of a pace and you always have to stop the lecture to ask questions.

    Being the only senior competitor on the No. 10 Arizona gymnastics team (1-7, 1-1 Pacific 10 Conference) is nothing but good times for the big sister of the talented group of women, who take on No. 30 Washington (3-6, 1-4) at 7:30 tonight in McKale Center.

    “”We have been so close, it’s like a family here,”” senior captain Erin Muirhead said.

    Growing up in South River, N.J., Muirhead started gymnastics at a young age.

    “”My brother and sister were both in gymnastics, so my mom just threw me in,”” she said.

    The physiology major said she does not remember a time when she didn’t enjoy competing in the sport she loves. In fact, she said she has dreamed of earning a college scholarship since she was 9 years old.

    “”I have always wanted to have the chance to compete for a high-level school like this,”” she said. “”It’s been amazing.””

    Muirhead said she was also offered a scholarship to Central Michigan but felt it was “”a lot nicer out here.””

    During her time in Tucson, Muirhead has competed in the vault, beam and floor exercise competitions regularly. She boasts a career-best 9.850 in the vault and set a new career high of 9.825 in floor exercises last weekend against California.

    Muirhead said she enjoys the floor exercise the best because of the chance to play with the crowd.

    “”I am more of a powerful person and I am not as graceful,”” she said.

    Her routine consists of flips, twists, turns, jumps and even a little growling, all with Def Leppard’s “”Pour Some Sugar on Me”” playing in the background.

    Before her routine is to begin, Muirhead said she thinks about blanking her head and trying not to get too excited.

    While she is out on the floor, she said she thinks about showing off to the crowd and the judges.

    “”Afterward I am just concerned with breathing,”” she said.

    Since her arrival four years ago, Muirhead has evolved not only through her scores on the court but through her leadership off of it as well.

    “”I just become more confident in everything that I do,”” she said.

    Arizona head coach Bill Ryden said he sees the development in her leadership skills.

    “”I am very proud of her,”” he said. “”She has changed so much in her four years and matured so much as a competitor.””

    Said junior Aubrey Taylor: “”As a captain, you are put in the spotlight. As a leader she has done a great job of working hard in the gym and keeping us organized.””

    Some of Muirhead’s responsibilities as captain include leading the team in warm-ups, picking out what outfits to wear and also being a mediator between the coaches and the other team members if any problems arise.

    She said she also enjoys telling “”silly”” jokes to help lighten the mood but understands the bigger goal that is at stake.

    “”I would like to make it all the way to nationals,”” she said.

    Muirhead said she thinks this will happen if the team can stick together and do the best it can every week.

    Whether her season ends in March at the Pac-10 Championships or with an NCAA crown in April, Muirhead said she plans to hang up the sparkly leotard and pursue a graduate degree in forensic sciences.

    But it will be hard for this competitor of 19 years to stay away for too long.

    “”After I finish grad school and have some free time on my hands, I would take up judging,”” she said.

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