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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Gymcats head to No. 3 UCLA

    After a season-opening loss to No. 22 Minnesota, the No. 18 Arizona gymnastics team looks to bounce back against a talented UCLA team in Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon.

    The third-ranked Bruins are also fresh off a loss last weekend as they fell to No. 2 Utah. However, UCLA is still one of the top squads this season and would normally present a troubling appearance for any team it faces.

    That being said, UA assistant coach Colleen Johnson isn’t worrying about what UCLA will bring to the meet. The Gymcats’ goal is to rebound from their shaky start to the year.

    “”We’re not thinking about them, we’re just focusing on going out there and doing our job to make ourselves better,”” Johnson said.

    Head coach Bill Ryden said in order for the team to be successful this weekend – and for the rest of the season – they have to really focus on doing what they know best.

    “”We are a performance sport – there’s no offense and defense – so the bottom line is that we have to improve,”” he said.

    Gymnastics is unique in that wins and losses do not necessarily mean anything; it’s the overall point total that teams are going for.

    “”Rankings are based solely on scores so wins are nice to have as an ego boost, but we just want to put up a high score,”” Johnson said.

    This can definitely provide an advantage to teams because while a certain team might have a tough schedule, as long as it performs well it can earn a top ranking.

    Johnson added that this team has enough talent to potentially earn a top-10 ranking and is confident the team will begin to show signs of that this weekend.

    “”If we can go and do our job that we’re capable of doing, we will move up in the rankings,”” Johnson said. “”The first meet wasn’t a reflection of our team’s ability, but there’s no question that the potential is there.””

    With ‘jitters’ out of the way, five freshmen hope to perform better

    One possible reason for the Gymcats’ performance against Minnesota is the influx of new athletes. Five freshman dot Arizona’s 13-member roster, and those new additions can only do so much to replace the departure of an all-time Arizona great in Karin Wurm.

    “”Every year you have new faces and lose some old faces, and last year we definitely lost some really good girls,”” Johnson said. “”But I think gains and losses happen every year, and even though we may have lost some of that experience, we have brought in an amazing amount of talent.””

    Deanna Graham, who had a strong performance of 9.800 on the vault, and Rebecca Cardenas, who was Arizona’s top scorer on the vault at 9.700, are just two of the five freshmen on this year’s squad. Arizona coaches said the other three – Talyn Curry, Katie Matusik and Jillian O’Neal – are also capable of similar scores but said a case of opening-meet jitters could have played a role in the rough start.

    Even though the Wildcats came off a tough loss last weekend, Ryden expects the team will come back strong this weekend.

    “”We took ourselves out of the game. We were just too nervous,”” Ryden said. “”We’re not worried that it’s UCLA or whoever. We know we’re a quality team.””

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