Arizona Gymnastics Pressuring Opponents Despite Injuries


For the second meet in a row, the Arizona Gymnastics team has used a patchwork lineup and almost upset both Pac-12 Conference rivals.

Before the meet against Stanford in Palo Alto on January 29th, the Wildcats faced three key injuries in their starting lineup. Coach Tabitha Yim toyed with forfeiting but instead inserted some last-minute substitutions against her alma mater.

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It paid off–Arizona stuck with Stanford through three rotations, but came up just short in the fourth and lost 195.900-195.650.  Their 195.650 was a season high to that point, and there were 12 scores over 9.80.

On Saturday, Arizona still had three key injuries, from sprained ankles to a broken toe. No. 14 Oregon State came to Tucson and the Wildcats were just a couple of routines away from pulling off the upset. After five GymCats competed on the vault, Coach Yim pulled the optional sixth athlete since the scores were so good.

The uneven bars have been a strong apparatus all season for Arizona. Twice they have had combined scores of at least 49 points.

Yesterday they didn’t disappoint, scoring 49.275, pushing the Wildcats to a tie with the Beavers at 98.025.

With the extra pressure, the balance beam may not have been the ideal rotation for Arizona’s repaired lineup to make a move. Two gymnasts fell off the beam, but there were also some bright spots. Junior Kennady Schneider had a rough beam performance at Stanford, scoring just a 9.30. She performed first Saturday and scored a 9.75 to start the beam off on the right foot. Freshman Courtney Cowles scored a career-high 9.80.

Although Arizona entered the floor exercise slightly behind Oregon State, the Beavers had a few bobbles on the balance beam, opening the door for the steady Wildcats. Freshman Heather Swanson, in only her second floor exercise of her career with the Wildcats, handled the pressure and got a 9.675.

The Arizona GymCats are depending heavily on senior leadership during these injuries, and senior Krysten Howard delivered in her final rotation.

Not only did team captain Howard nail her routine, she finished by engaging the McKale crowd, synchronizing her finish with the loud Wildcat growl heard after big plays in Arizona Stadium.

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Arizona did fall short of upsetting the Beavers, 196.200-195.375, but Coach Yim acknowledged adversity is making the team come together. Now they have to work on finishing meets. See if they can do it this Friday, February 10th at 7 PM in McKale. Good luck Arizona Gymnastics, we look forward to more Arizona Sticks!