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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Gymcats show promise for future

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 gymnastics team faced great adversity this year but came out of the turmoil with a positive outlook for the future.

Prior to the season, several Gymcats endured injuries that severely weakened the depth of the team. The injuries involved key gymnasts who were expected to be a big part of the rotation, and the team was forced to move on with inexperienced freshmen filling that void.

Despite every roadblock, the Gymcats still secured a 10-10 record, finishing as the No. 21 squad in the nation and fourth in a Pacific 10 Conference considered to be one of the best gymnastics leagues in the NCAA.

“”We were handed some tough situations,”” said head coach Bill Ryden. “”But the way the team competed and the end result, I was happy.””

Due to the injuries, freshmen Aubree Cristello and Molly Quirk were able to step into the spotlight and showcase their talents. They were two of the three Gymcats named to the Pac-10 All-Conference team.

Their dazzling performances were especially startling due to the gymnasts’ inexperience. Few girls can compete in the all-around — Cristello and Quirk are among them, doing so without any prior collegiate experience.

The third Gymcat to earn first team all-conference honors was also the lone Gymcat to earn a trip to nationals — sophomore Deanna Graham. She earned a spot after her all-around performance at regionals in UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion.

“”She is practicing hard. Her training has been going great,”” Ryden said. “”I am confident in her skills, and I think she is confident also.””

Sophomore Katie Matusik was able to come back from a fractured ankle to become a large contributor to the team.

The entire team was surprised at how fast Matusik recovered from her injury and how effectively she competed once she returned. Matusik was forced to be a spectator for the first half of the season, but by the latter half she had fought her way back into the rotation.

By the end of the season, Matusik was competing in the beam and floor events, and even practicing her bar routines.

“”We only had 12 girls on the team from the beginning, so when we three of us went down in December, it was a bad situation,”” Matusik said. “”Everyone that was healthy made the best of it, and everyone on this team has so much heart and passion, and that kind of made up for the lack of bodies.””

The end of the season also marks the end of lone senior Sarah Tomczyk’s athletic career. The team veteran was in her fifth year in the program after taking a medical redshirt during her freshman year. In 2010, Tomczyk led the Gymcats and was often the most reliable gymnast on the team.

And while the Gymcats are losing their senior leader, the future still looks bright. Ryden expects nothing but improvement next season.

“”There was so much more good that came out of this season then bad,”” Ryden said. “”It’s definitely a memorable season, a season that we can all remember fondly, as opposed to a season that we would like to forget.””

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