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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Freshmen step into vital roles for Gymcats

The Arizona gymnastics team is looking to bounce back this weekend after its season-opening loss to No. 8 Arkansas  as it competes against No. 7 Stanford this weekend.

The No. 20 Gymcats are traveling for the second straight week but hope to change the outcome after a 195.4-192.65 loss to Arkansas. Now, the team is hoping to minimize some of the mistakes they made against the Razorbacks.

Head coach Bill Ryden’s team will compete against Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif., Sunday at 3 p.m. The event can be seen via webcast on Stanford’s athletic website.

“”Our first order of business is we can’t beat ourselves,”” Ryden said. “”They will have the advantage of the home court, so for us, we’re just trying to not count any falls and beat ourselves. Then we’ll see about beating other teams. If we don’t beat ourselves we have a good chance to be successful.””

The Gymcats are a very young team with nine underclassmen. Sarah Tomczyk is the only senior on the team. Two freshmen, Molly Quirk and Aubree Cristello, put in all-around performances at Arkansas and hope to do the same at Stanford.

“”I think the freshman handled the pressure really well,”” Tomczyk said.

“”I think they did great, both of them had really good performances. They looked confident out there. They definitely showed it off and they definitely handled their own.””

But Ryden stressed that the team has to mature quickly this season in order to be successful.

“”The freshmen are going to have to really grow up fast,”” Ryden said. “”We have no choice. The upperclassmen are doing a great job in helping them whenever they need it.””

This season, Arizona has been depleted by several injuries. Ryden himself dealt with three key injuries in December before the season even started.

Yet many of the team members are trying to perform despite nagging injuries. Ryden describes his team as a tough group of girls who just get out there and perform.

“”Injures are not an excuse, it just definitely provided us with some challenges,”” Ryden said. “”We’re not going to give up and we’re not going to use it as an excuse.””

Sophomore Britnie Jones was a bright spot for the team this week. Jones was recognized by the Pacific 10 Conference for the Special Performance of the Week, earning a 9.85 on the balance beam — tied for first place for the event.

“”I just thought it was a really good thing for the team,”” Jones said. “”I know a lot of the time they focus on the higher (ranked) schools, so it was really nice to get acknowledged for the hard work we do in here.””

Before the season began, Jones was injured for two months with a stress fracture in her foot.

“”I’m healthy now,”” she said. “”I just do bars and beams to make sure it doesn’t flare up again.””

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