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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    A fraction too short

    UA senior Jamie Holton qualified for the NCAA Championships on beam after posting a career-high 9.925 at the NCAA Regionals Saturday in McKale Center. Although two teammates will join her at the championships, Arizona failed to qualify as a team.
    UA senior Jamie Holton qualified for the NCAA Championships on beam after posting a career-high 9.925 at the NCAA Regionals Saturday in McKale Center. Although two teammates will join her at the championships, Arizona failed to qualify as a team.

    The Arizona gymnastics team landed just short of a trip to the NCAA Championships on Saturday, placing third by 0.05 points in the South Central Regional in McKale Center.

    Stanford (196.600) and Oregon State (196.075) will be the two teams from the region to advance to the championships in Salt Lake City, and three Arizona gymnasts will make the trip as individuals.

    While Stanford took an easy lead, Arizona and OSU were neck-and-neck throughout the meet. Down by 0.200 going into the final rotation, Arizona put up a season-high 49.450 on beam, but it was not enough to make up the difference, as OSU scored a 49.275 on floor.

    The toughest result to swallow was that Arizona scored higher than OSU on three events, said UA head coach Bill Ryden.

    “”You figure if you beat a team on three of four of the events, you’re going to win the matchup,”” he said.

    Arizona, which finished ninth overall nationally, had the top score of any team not advancing to the championships. It scored higher than four other schools that will advance, including UCLA, which finished first in its region. The finish echoed last year’s, when Arizona also came in first among teams that didn’t qualify for nationals. The Wildcats have not gone to the NCAAs as a team since 2002.

    Last year’s result “”was motivation for us this year because we finished 13th last year, and we were a much better team this year,”” Ryden said. “”Everybody can see the talent, and we’re not doing it with Olympic hopefuls. We’re doing it with kids who have a heart the size of the state of Arizona.

    “”I’m mixed, because to get that close, to know you should go and to not go – but what can you say? I couldn’t be more proud of them. I couldn’t be more proud to be their coach.””

    Arizona’s weakest event was floor, where the team began the meet with a 48.725. Both senior Jamie Holton and sophomore Bree Workman went out of bounds on a tumbling pass, resulting in a 0.100 deduction from each score.

    The team put up a 49.000 on vault, as Workman and freshman Brittney Morgan scored 9.850s to finish in a five-way tie for second behind Stanford’s Liz Tricase.

    Junior Karin Wurm led the team on the uneven bars, scoring a 9.875 for second place behind Stanford’s Tabitha Yim (9.900). The team scored a 48.875 on bars.

    Ryden said he was most proud of his beam team, which posted the highest beam score of the meet, surpassing Stanford’s 49.250. Senior Jamie Holton took first place with a career-high 9.925, and Morgan, Wurm and sophomore Briana Bergeson scored 9.900s to finish in a six-way tie for second.

    “”When your lowest counting score is a 9.800 and you have four 9.900s after that, it’s just outstanding,”” Ryden said. “”I couldn’t be more proud of the beam team.””

    Holton’s first-place finish earned her a trip to the NCAA Championships along with Wurm and Morgan, who qualified as all-arounders.

    Wurm matched her career-high all-around score of 39.425 for the third straight meet to finish second behind Yim. OSU’s Tasha Smith finished third, and Morgan earned a 39.275 for fourth place. They will travel to Salt Lake City based on NCAA rules that the top two finishers not from a qualifying team may advance to nationals.

    Wurm, who attended the championships as an all-around competitor in 2006, said it was a great experience, but it will be hard to return without her team.

    “”Going there last year, it just made me want it so much more as a team,”” she said. “”You go there alone and you don’t have your team, and sometimes you feel like you don’t deserve to be there because you don’t have your team.

    “”It’s definitely a bittersweet thing to make it there and not have 12 other girls there with you.””

    Holton said she was disappointed with the team’s finish despite her individual achievement.

    “”It’s really hard to be happy with what we did (Saturday) … considering that we came so short of our main goal in coming here,”” she said.

    Ryden said it would be easy for the team to blame the loss on one mistake or deduction, but he doesn’t want his athletes to think that way.

    “”I feel bad for the girls who made uncharacteristic errors that they don’t make and now have that weighing heavily on their minds,”” he said. “”But we didn’t have a 10, so everybody could have done something a little better, right? So not any one score is the cause.””

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