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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Gymcats head to NCAA Regional

    Jake Lacey / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The senatorial run-off.
    Jake Lacey
    Jake Lacey / Arizona Daily Wildcat The senatorial run-off.

    The No. 15 Arizona gymnastics team flew to Ames, Iowa, yesterday to get ready for their 20th consecutive NCAA Regional appearance tomorrow, where the top two teams will advance to the NCAA Championships.

    Arizona head coach Bill Ryden has eight years of postseason experience at Arizona and has been preparing this Arizona squad for the postseason all year.

    “”We’ve designed our routines for the postseason all year,”” Ryden said. “”We’ve been ready for postseason (competition) in terms of difficulty since January.””

    These familiar routines have landed the Wildcats in the top 20 in all four events. Arizona is ranked No. 9 on the uneven bars, No. 13 on floor exercises, No. 17 on the balance beam and No. 18 on the vault.

    With such a short break between the regular season and regional competition, Arizona has been preparing the same routines all season, hoping they caught any minor mishaps in this final week of practice that could cost them points.

    While Ryden has coached in eight consecutive regionals and has an NCAA Championships appearance in 2002, this year’s Gymcat squad comes in young and inexperienced. With the increased pressure that comes along with postseason competition, the familiarity the gymnasts have with their routines should help to combat any nerves.

    “”My goal for any athlete that’s competing is that they have no doubt about their routines,”” Ryden said. “”They’re 100 percent confident in their routines so that the thought of a fall doesn’t even cross their minds, so we try to take that weight off their shoulders.””

    Freshman Alexis Greene will be a game-time decision tomorrow, because of a lingering right ankle injury she sustained during warmups for the Pacific 10 Conference Championships March 25. The Wildcats have been training harder on the floor and vault exercises in case Greene can’t push off the ankle and is limited to bars.

    Ryden said he isn’t very hopeful Greene will be able to go Saturday but that the rest of the team is at full strength.

    Host Iowa State, currently ranked No. 4 in the nation, is the only squad the Wildcats haven’t seen in competition this season. The Cyclones are ranked No. 2 on the floor and No. 3 on the beam this season and looking for their first ever back-to-back appearances at the NCAA Championships.

    Arizona has won both matches this year with Brigham Young, who is also looking to advance to the NCAA Championships for the second year in a row. The Wildcats have struggled with ASU, losing in Tempe in January and placing .150 points behind the Sun Devils at the Pac-10 Championships.

    The Denver Pioneers placed ahead of the Wildcats in the season opener Jan. 6 in Cancun, Mexico, but lost when they visited Tucson March 10.

    Iowa State will be the region’s top seed, followed by ASU, the No. 3-seeded Wildcats, No. 4 Denver, No. 5 Minnesota and No. 6 BYU. All six teams in the region have NCAA Championships experience and collectively make one of the strongest regions Ryden said he has ever seen.

    “”I’ll venture to say there’s not another regional out there where all six teams have experience,”” he said. “”We’ve seen it all because of the level we compete at, but we expect a good meet. All six of these teams could advance.””

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