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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Gymcats to rely on their youth

    The No. 13 Arizona gymnastics team will face its stiffest competition yet when No. 3 Stanford comes to McKale Center tonight – and it’ll have to compensate for the loss of senior Aubrey Kelly, one of the team’s two all-around performers.

    Kelly is out for at least six weeks after breaking a bone in her foot in practice Monday, and head coach Bill Ryden said he will have to rely on underclassmen to replace her in the lineup for Arizona (4-1, 2-1 Pacific 10 Conference).

    “”I’ll be in the gym every day, and I’ll be on the floor with the team,”” Kelly said. “”I’m basically working as a support system now for them.

    “”I talked to them … and just let them know that even though I’m injured, I’m there for them as much as I was before, just my role has changed.””

    The injury means that freshmen Brittney Morgan and Miranda Russell, who have played increasing roles since the start of the season, may each compete on three or four events tonight and in the coming weeks.

    “”Whether they’ll adjust to being able to do the physical demands of being an all-arounder every week, that’s the question,”” Ryden said. “”But I think they’re up to it. They’re looking good in the gym, they’re confident, and both of them are great competitors.””

    The freshmen have become tougher from the adversity they’ve already overcome, Morgan said.

    “”It does put pressure on us, but I think we’re ready,”” she said.

    Redshirt freshman Sarah Specht will most likely replace Kelly on bars – an event in which Arizona is already stretched thin due to other injuries – as “”she’s the only one left,”” Ryden said.

    Junior Danielle Hicks and senior Jamie Holton both have shoulder injuries that prevent them from competing on bars, and sophomore Alexis Greene, who competed on bars in all 13 meets in 2006, is out for the season with a ruptured achilles tendon suffered Jan. 18.

    Stanford (7-1, 5-0) is also competing with a diminished force, as junior co-captains Tabitha Yim and Liz Tricase were taken out of competition with injuries Feb. 7.

    Despite the loss, the Cardinal has maintained a five-meet win streak, having suffered its only loss in its season-opener against then-No. 1 Georgia Jan. 6. Stanford set a season-high when it scored a 197.275 in its last meet at home against Oregon State, Iowa State and San Jose State.

    Stanford also boasts three consecutive Pac-10 Gymnasts of the Week: Yim (Jan. 30), freshman Carly Janiga (Feb. 6) and sophomore Nicole Ourada (Tuesday).

    “”My big goal for this meet, especially because of this new predicament we’ve been put into, is just to get this team to do their job with the lineup we’ve got,”” Ryden said. “”Yeah, it would have been nice to have (Kelly) for this meet, but it’s not like these other gymnasts are slouches.””

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