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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Gymcats square off with Alabama

Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Arizona gymnastics team travels to Alabama this week to face the No. 1-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide. This will be the toughest test of the season for the Gymcats as they try to get back on track after two consecutive losses.

“”We looked good before (in practice) and have had hiccups in meets,”” said head coach Bill Ryden. “”We have been training hard; we never let it get them down. We are going there very confident.””

The Gymcats expect there to be around 10,000 fans in the stands. The Southeastern Conference is known for having passionate fans and large turnouts at their meets.

“”I have never competed against any team that has had that many fans before,”” said sophomore Deanna Graham. “”I don’t know if it’s going to make too much of a difference, I guess it will be exciting if you look up into the stands. When we are on the floor, you don’t really notice who is around you, and when you are competing, you really don’t hear anything.””

The Gymcats have averaged just more than 1,000 fans in McKale Center so it will be an adjustment the team will have to make quickly.

“”I think it pumps us up,”” Ryden said. “”They are not afraid of the opposition or afraid of the fans. I just think it will be exciting for us.””

Ryden has talked to his team this week about what they should expect from such a large crowd. He also said that his upperclassmen have done an excellent job in talking to the underclassmen and giving them any advice.

The Gymcats have focused hard in practice all week and are ready to prove that on Saturday.

“”I think we are looking at that as more of a challenge and just for us to get out there and show them that we are really good at gymnastics,”” Graham said.

Assistant coach Colleen Johnson was formerly a gymnast at the University of Florida, so she has firsthand knowledge of what the team will experience. Johnson tries to stay away from telling the Gymcats about her personal experience because she wants the team to face it on their own.

“”I think we will just constantly remind them to stay calm and to block out the arena,”” Johnson said. “”I have told them some of my experience, but I have never said, ‘From my own experience.'””

The Gymcats have had a road warrior mentality this season and have often performed much better on the road.

“”It helps us because they get all day to rest,”” Ryden said. “”All we will be doing tomorrow is sitting on a plane, sitting in a van and then sleeping in a hotel.

“”They actually get more rest (before) away meets. I honestly could ask every single one of them, and they would say we are more comfortable on the road.

“”You are supposed to be on a plane sitting and sleeping, and they are all very good at sleeping on a plane.””

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