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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Freshmen Gymcats step into key roles

Carlos Herrera
Carlos Herrera / The Daily Wildcat Mackenzie Valentin scored a 9.825 during Arizona’s fall to the Oregon State Beavers, 197.050-196.275, at the McKale Center on Sunday.

With senior night quickly approaching for the No. 20 Arizona women’s gymnastics team, it is almost time to welcome some new faces as the next gymnasts step up. There’s only one problem: The freshmen already have.

“I think that we could not have come anywhere close to being who we are without the freshmen,” head coach Bill Ryden said. “From the beginning, all four freshmen have made serious contributions to the team, and we couldn’t be there without them because they are all just really good people and really good kids.”

The four freshmen are Mackenzie Valentin, Gabby Laub, Krysten Howard and Selynna Felix-Terrazas.

“First of all, they have brought scoring and good gymnastics, but they have also brought stability and filled in the holes that we needed filling,” Ryden said. “We couldn’t have done this without them.”

Gymnastics starts as an individual sport, but once gymnasts hit college, the sport instead becomes all about the team.

“When you are on a team with just yourself, nobody is really behind you,” Laub said. “Whenever I messed up, I just disappointed myself. But now there is a lot more pressure because now if you mess up, you disappoint the whole team.”

Each freshman has made an immediate impact so far this season.

“We couldn’t have done it without any of them,” Ryden said.

Felix-Terrazas features career bests of 9.750 in vault, 9.900 in uneven bars and 9.850 in floor.

Howard features a career best of 9.875 in uneven bars, while Valentin features career bests of 9.825 in vault and 9.875 in floor. Laub features career bests of 9.825 in vault and 9.875 in uneven bars.

“Gabby [Laub] had a fantastic meet last week [against Oregon State],” Ryden said. “Selynna [Felix-Terrazas] has had her moments, Krysten Howard has been on the bar lineup since the beginning and Mackenzie [Valentin] is doing it on vault and floor, so they are all equally important.”

Other Gymcats on the team have noticed as well.

“I think the freshmen have done an amazing job, because there were a lot of times where we needed them to step up [and they did],” senior Shana Sangston said.

Although they have huge shoes to fill with injuries to many of the current seniors, the freshmen Gymcats continue to stay humble.

“I think it has been a really interesting year and I am glad that we can help out in any way we can, and I’m really happy that we can be here and be a part of this,” Valentin said.

Laub said each of the freshmen was welcomed by the team from day one.

“This team is like a family,” Laub said. “We all are incredibly close and if you have a problem then you can go to anybody on the team, which means the senior meet this weekend will definitely be emotional.”

—Follow Matt Wall @mwall20

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