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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

GymCat freshmen take charge of team

Arizona+gymnast+Victoria+Ortiz+performs+her+high+bar+routine+during++Arizonas+win+over+Illinois-Chicago%2C+Sacramento+State+and++Wisconsin-Stout+in+McKale+Center+on+Jan.+16.+Ortiz+is+among+a+trio+of++freshmen+that+have+helped+out+the+GymCats+this+season.
Tyler Baker

Arizona gymnast Victoria Ortiz performs her high bar routine during Arizona’s win over Illinois-Chicago, Sacramento State and Wisconsin-Stout in McKale Center on Jan. 16. Ortiz is among a trio of freshmen that have helped out the GymCats this season.

This was supposed to be the year for Arizona gymnastics. Returning to the team were experienced athletes, four of whom were seniors. That is, until injuries started to occur during the fall season. Four meets into the season, senior Amber Wobma, senior Kristin Klarenbach and redshirt junior Danielle Buchanan have not even touched the mat to compete. Yet, Arizona still finds ways to step up and not let adversity overcome it.

Just look at the meet against the Washington Huskies. Arizona was on the road and managed to squeeze a victory 196.050-195.950. One tenth of a point was the difference between the two Pac-12 Conference teams. The difference makers this season have no doubt been the three freshmen additions of Madison Cindric, Kennady Schneider and Victoria Ortiz.

The immediate impact that these three athletes have had on the team in competition speaks tremendously for the recruitment of UA head coach Bill Ryden.

After the GymCats opening meet of the season against Alabama, Ryden said in a press release that “it’s going to be a bright career over the next four years for these girls.”

Thus far, it has proven true. So far this season, Cindric has cracked the starting lineup, competing in vault, beam and floor. Ryden also said that Cindric was sick all week before the meet against the Huskies and still managed to “nail her routines.” 

Ortiz has added valuable bars routines, while Schneider has competed on floor and beam.

The Wildcats are missing valuable gymnasts and are not letting nerves get to them. Klarenbach earned second-team All-American honors and competed in every meet last season. Wobma was a leader in her academics earning Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention and competed in every beam and floor lineup. Buchanan sat out last season due to injury and has sat out this season as well.

The freshmen have even impressed senior leader Allie Flores, who has been the most consistent athlete on the floor for the Wildcats all season.

“The freshmen are doing a fantastic job,” Flores said.

Although Cindric, Schneider and Ortiz have only been attending Arizona for a semester, fans have welcomed them with open arms. At the Wildcats’ first home meet of the season, fans swarmed all three asking for pictures and autographs.

Ryden has said that the freshmen will be counted on for the rest of the season.

“They have shown that they are more than capable of stepping up and doing their job,” Ryden said, “and now it’s like one big family that we just need to do the job.”

Moving forward, the GymCats season will not be easy. There are seven meets left before the Pac-12 Championships and Regionals. Troester ranks six of the nine teams the Wildcats will face in the top 25, and this coming week, the Wildcats welcome the No. 5 Utah Utes to McKale Center.

Arizona has made the NCAA Regionals for 28 straight years and every season since Ryden has been head coach of the program. After their defeat of Washington, the Wildcats are now ranked No. 18 and are in a good position in a difficult Pac-12. 

We will have to wait and see if Arizona and the three freshmen can make it 29 straight seasons.

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Follow Matt Wall on Twitter.

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