"Gymcats battle injuries, sneak past ASU"
Arizona gymnastics found itself falling behind early against in-state rival ASU on Friday night in their first home meet, but the team fought back to regain the lead after the third event.
The Gymcats surpassed all expectations on the bar routine, where they have struggled all season. The bar event was right after the team struggled on the vault, where it is usually quite strong.
""I can't even remember the last time we counted a fall on vault, seriously,"" said head coach Bill Ryden. ""To have one kid fall on vault is incredibly rare, we have gone years and have not had one kid fall. To have two in the same competition, I was blown away.""
The Gymcats pulled away at the end with a final score of 193.625 to 192.050.
""There is no need to reinvent the wheel overnight, those kids are going to hit a lot more than they are going to miss,"" said associate head coach John Court. ""The kids are really talented. They are almost all the way healthy but it's just a matter of them putting it all together.
""Once they put it all together, we are going to be a pretty dangerous team.""
The team was led by junior Deanna Graham, who competed in the first three events. Graham was unsure if she would even be able to compete after suffering a back injury two weeks ago that was still bothering her.
Aubree Cristello was another Gymcat who pushed through a nagging injury to help get the win. Cristello suffered a shoulder injury around the same time as Graham.
""I couldn't be happier. I think we are going to be much stronger next week (when they are healthier),"" Ryden said. ""Boy you can sure measure their hearts, those two have heart. They know the team needs them and they came through.""
Ryden had no idea that Graham would compete until the team had their warm-ups prior to the meet. He was in constant communication with Graham to see how she felt and they finally determined that she would be able to go.
""I'm definitely feeling repercussions of competing,"" Graham said. ""My body was probably compromised in other ways trying to keep my back from hurting, but I'll get all that worked out and be ready to compete all-around next Friday for sure.""
The highlight of the night came during the bars event when senior Miranda Russell scored a career high of 9.900. The score was somewhat of a redemption for Russell after she fell during the vault event as she landed flat on her back.
The Gymcats will compete again on Friday when they go up against Boise State in McKale Center at 7 p.m.