Arizona Gymnastics Upsets Rival Cal in McKale Center


For the third week in a row, Arizona Gymnastics entered the final rotation in the position to win, and this time they clamped down and beat No. 15 California for their first Pac-12 win.

Arizona Gymnastics upset the Cal Bears! It was thrilling! Unfortunately for the Golden Bears, their star gymnast and Olympian Toni-Ann Williams tore her Achilles heel during practice and is out of the lineup.

Cal clearly missed her, but Arizona has not been at full speed in weeks due to multiple injured gymnasts. Against Stanford and Oregon State the Wildcats entered the last rotation in a position to win but ended up coming up just short. Perhaps the third time was the charm, but more likely the new gymnasts are getting more comfortable in their new roles.

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Senior Selynna Felix-Terrazas from Tucson participated in her first meet since suffering sprains in both ankles. Coach Tabitha Yim will work her back in the lineup slowly, so she is ready to peak at regionals in March. On Friday night she reentered competition on the vault scoring a 9.75. Overall vault scores were excellent with multiple gymnasts scoring over 9.8. Arizona finished the first rotation leading 49.125-48.225.

Senior and team captain Krysten Howard started off strong on the bars which set the tone for the rest of the rotation. Although the next gymnast, sophomore Haylie Hendrickson, almost overshot her handstand, she straightened out while upside down on the high bar and ended with an Arizona stick.

As a freshman, Christina Berg is bringing her success on the uneven bars to Tucson. This was her only event for her Friday, and she scored a 9.85. While in high school in Illinois, she was the state bar champion.

These strong uneven bar scores assured the Wildcats would start the balance beam still leading over California. The beam has been a challenge for Arizona this year. There have been some fantastic performances and some unlucky falls that cost them at Stanford. Kennady Schneider confidently led off for Arizona and stuck the landing, scoring a 9.8.

Following Kennady, the Wildcats had some bobbles and a fall, but they also had some routines which were rewarded above 9.8. Krysten Howard finished the beam with a 9.875, while junior Victoria Ortiz recovered from last week’s fall off the beam and scored a 9.875. She is also a local Tucson product, having graduated from Sahuaro High School.

Meanwhile, California was gaining ground on Arizona as they nailed their floor exercise routines. The scores were tight heading into the final rotation as the Bears and Wildcats swapped apparatus.

This was the same situation as the past two meets. Fortunately, Cal felt the same pressure on the beam the Wildcats had just faced, and they faltered just enough to secure the win for Arizona. The Wildcats attacked the floor and scored so well they only used five gymnasts.

Teams send six athletes on each rotation and drop the low score. After the first five gymnasts on the floor exercises, the scores were high enough to secure the win without a sixth score for a cushion. Junior Kennady Schneider continued her mastery of the floor with her routine she choreographed.

The judges almost agreed and gave Schneider a 9.925. Skyler Sheppard made up for a fall on the beam and nailed her routine for a 9.875.

The Arizona Gymnastics team has been scoring well all season and will likely make regionals even with some losses. But it feels good to get over the hump and pull one out in the late innings so to speak. The experience the newer gymnasts are getting due to injuries will prove invaluable in the post-season and in the years to come.

Next: Arizona's TJ McConnell Continues to Impress in the NBA

On Sunday Arizona will take on the Washington Huskies in Seattle. Catch this fiery team on Pac-12 Networks at 2 PM Tucson time. Good luck GymCats and we will look for some Arizona Sticks.