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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Gymcats fly to new highs over break, finish second”

    The No. 14 Arizona gymnastics team has been on a steady rise through the rankings since February, a trend that continued through spring break as several gymnasts posted career-high scores.

    Freshman Brittney Morgan was named Pacific 10 Conference Gymnast of the Week after her performance against then-No. 22 North Carolina State, James Madison and William & Mary on March 9 in Raleigh, N.C. She posted a career-high 9.975 on vault and earned first place all-around.

    Morgan, a native of Charlottesville, Va., said the meet was especially exciting because her family and friends were there.

    “”I couldn’t have picked a better time,”” she said. “”There was so much energy from the crowd, and it just felt so good.””

    Then-No. 15 Arizona opened the meet with a stumbling bar rotation that opened the door for N.C. State to take the lead, but the Gymcats fought back on vault in the final rotation and posted a 49.450, the fifth-highest vault score in program history. The score helped the Wildcats down N.C. State 196.150-196.125. William & Mary scored a 189.650, and JMU a 186.200.

    Arizona jumped to No. 14 after that win and continued its momentum into Friday’s Senior Day meet at McKale Center against No. 16 Penn State, Kentucky and Texas Women’s University.

    Arizona posted a 196.650 for second place – its highest meet score since 2004 – but the Gymcats couldn’t hold off Penn State, whose 196.825 was its highest score since 2001.

    Kentucky scored a 195.600, and TWU a 190.525.

    Arizona had a mediocre first rotation on vault, scoring a season-low 48.775, but “”then the scores started flying,”” said Arizona head coach Bill Ryden.

    Morgan and freshman Miranda Russell both scored career-high 9.900s on beam to earn first place alongside Penn State’s Stephanie Sullivan.

    Senior Jamie Holton went out with a bang on floor, scoring a career-high 9.950 in her last meet at McKale. She shared first place with Kentucky’s Heather Hite.

    “”I didn’t think about hitting my routine,”” Holton said. “”I kind of just went out there to have fun, just to perform, so it was a lot of fun to be able to do that and then have such a great routine to end on.””

    Junior Karin Wurm, who took second all-around at N.C. State, returned to the top of the pack for the fifth time this year, matching her career-high all-around score of 39.400.

    Despite solid individual performances, Ryden felt the team could’ve produced better as a unit.

    “”We were close to the best team, but we didn’t do what it took to be the best team,”” he said. “”It definitely was sort of bittersweet to do so well and then know that you gave away a victory.””

    Senior Aubrey Kelly, who has been sidelined since Feb. 12 with a broken foot, made an exhibition appearance on bars but did not perform her dismount.

    Kelly may compete on bars at the Pac-10 Conference Championships on March 31 pending doctor’s permission.

    The team also retired the leotard of decorated Arizona gymnast Heidi Hornbeek, a six-time All-American whose accolades include a Pac-10 all-around title, an NCAA floor title and an AAI American Award, given to the top senior gymnast in the nation. Hornbeek competed for Arizona from 1996-2000 under Ryden, and her leotard is the first to be retired for Arizona.

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