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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Gymcats ready to take on Pac-10

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The UA gymnastics team ended their home season with a third straight win against No. 24 Minnesota 196.175 to 193.700 Friday night in McKale. Senior Sarah Tomczyk placed second overall in last home meet of her career.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The UA gymnastics team ended their home season with a third straight win against No. 24 Minnesota 196.175 to 193.700 Friday night in McKale. Senior Sarah Tomczyk placed second overall in last home meet of her career.

The Arizona gymnastic’s team has one not-so-secret advantage in this year’s Pacific 10 Conference Gymnastics Championships—home gym advantage.

The entire Pac-10 will converge on Tucson tomorrow for the league championships, which begins at 4 p.m. in McKale Center.

“”It’s a longer meet, it’s a slower meet,”” said head coach Bill Ryden. “”There is also a lot more excitement combined with a lot more pressure. It’s the type of thing that you have to keep your head and your focus for a long period of time, even during your bye time, when you are doing nothing.””

Given that the Pac-10 Championships will be such a large meet, each team will have three byes put into their rotation, which are usually not given to them.

“”We start on a bye, which is great; I love our rotation, especially for this team,”” Ryden said. “”It’s a great rotation for anybody, but considering how strong we are on vault and floor, we get to start on a strong event and finish on a strong event.””

Each team will be secluded into corrals, giving the audience a more fan-friendly atmosphere.

“”(With this setup) the competitor is the showcase, you don’t have all the girls around the equipment,”” said assistant coach Colleen Johnson. “”The gymnastics is the same, but the excitement is obviously amplified.””

The Gymcats are not used to being separated from their teammates and unable to cheer them on. It is not rare for the Gymcats to not become part of the performance as they stand on the side, dancing along with the music or hyping up the crowd.

“”I think it’s harder for the girls in the corral, because they want to be along the side of the floor,”” Johnson said. “”Especially for floor, it’s fun to look over at your teammates and wink, and it helps the performance aspect.

“”These girls are experienced enough to deal with it,”” she added. “”There is no question that it’s a heightened level of pressure being out there by yourself.””

The competition will be no joking matter, as three teams are currently in the top-10. The Gymcats have a 4-3 record against the other Pac-10 schools.

Last year, the Pac-10 Championships were hosted by Stanford, and the Gymcats finished in fifth place. UCLA eventually walked away with the Pac-10 crown. The Gymcats were only able to put up a team total of 194.325, and the goal this entire season has been to hit 196.

The Gymcats hit that mark two weeks ago during their final home meet, and they will try to keep that momentum going.

One obvious advantage will be that the Gymcats are competing at their home venue.

Every team is given a practice time in McKale on Friday, and Ryden is happy they can use McKale and their practice facility, the Mary Roby Training Center, at any time. According to some of the gymnasts, it will really help during their bye time.

“”The last two home meets, we improved, so I think it being a home meet will definitely help us,”” said sophomore Katie Matusik. “”All our families will be there — and all our fans — so it will be a really awesome event.””

They will also be able to go back into their own locker room and try to remain focused on their objective.

“”I don’t expect us to go really anything under 196,”” said senior captain Sarah Tomczyk. “”It’s time to put it together, because you can’t mess up now.””

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