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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Sisters meet in gymnastics

    Freshman Miranda Russell earned a 9.800 on floor exercise Jan. 26 against Oregon State, a performance her sister, Rehana, said she would have loved to see. The siblings will go head-to-head tonight when Arizona faces off against Minnesota in McKale Center.
    Freshman Miranda Russell earned a 9.800 on floor exercise Jan. 26 against Oregon State, a performance her sister, Rehana, said she would have loved to see. The siblings will go head-to-head tonight when Arizona faces off against Minnesota in McKale Center.

    McKale Center will play host to a sibling rivalry tonight at 7:30 when the No. 15 Arizona gymnastics team takes on No. 26 Minnesota, as Arizona freshman Miranda Russell faces off against her sister, Rehana, a junior.

    If Minnesota’s coaches had had their way, Miranda would never have come to the desert in the first place, said Arizona head coach Bill Ryden. Minnesota (0-3) recruited Miranda pretty hard, but in the end she chose Arizona (2-1, 1-1 Pacific 10 Conference) for the academics in addition to its gymnastics program.

    Miranda’s independent spirit may have factored into the decision as well, Ryden said.

    “”She could (go to Minnesota) and be like her sister, or do something like Arizona and totally be different than everybody else,”” he said. “”I think that appealed to her, too.

    “”I’m sure glad she chose us.””

    Growing up in Oshkosh, Wis., the sisters competed with each other constantly, Rehana said in a phone interview from Minneapolis. Gymnastics seems to be in their blood, as both of their parents were collegiate gymnasts at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh, and their two younger siblings do gymnastics as well.

    “”Our family hobbies were like handstand contests in the kitchen … and our home videos are of us in leotards together doing dance routines in the backyard,”” Rehana said.

    The sisters became more supportive as the gymnastics grew tougher.

    “”We have just learned to totally be there for each other because we know how hard it is,”” Rehana said. “”I’m just proud of her, more than anything. … We’re just proud of each other.””

    Competing for different collegiate teams will be new territory for them.

    “”We’ve competed against each other individually, but we were always on the same team and we’d win the team trophy,”” Rehana said. “”Now it’s different because we’re on two different teams and one of us is going to win and one of us is going to lose. … I hope we win, but I hope she does well, too.””

    Rehana said she’ll probably sneak a glance while Miranda competes, even though she’s supposed to focus on her own team.

    The sisters’ parents will also be flying in for the meet – “”They can’t miss it,”” Miranda said.

    Although she had a rocky debut Jan. 12 at Michigan State, Miranda made a comeback in Arizona’s win over Oregon State Jan. 26, scoring a 9.775 on bars and a 9.800 on floor.

    Rehana hasn’t appeared in Minnesota’s lineup so far this year, but in 2006 she competed in all 13 meets and posted a season-high 9.800 on the uneven bars.

    Raising awareness

    Tonight is also the annual breast cancer awareness meet, and fans are invited to wear pink. The gymnasts will also wear pink leotards and hand out pink ribbons as part of the event, which has been adopted by most NCAA teams.

    The gymnasts are looking forward to the meet and the energy it will bring to McKale, Ryden said.

    “”It’s something that’s bigger than our purpose as a team,”” said senior Aubrey Kelly. “”It’s really exciting when we get involved in something like that.””

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