Wildcats finish fifth in NCAA regional
The Arizona gymnastics team headed into what it considered to be one of the toughest NCAA regional groupings in the country during the weekend and left with fifth place.
The Wildcats had a total team score of 195.400, which was 0.225 away from the fourth place University of Denver.
""It was like déjà vu with three really strong events and one event that sort of held us back a little,"" said head coach Bill Ryden.
Arizona was able to score more than 49 as a team in its two strongest events, vault and floor, and earned a 48.850 in bars. Falls and miscues caused the team to drop a place with a team score of 48.350.
""Our two all-arounders both fell, Aubree (Cristello) and Deanna (Graham) fell,"" Ryden said. ""Two girls that I would have bet money that they weren't going to fall. It was just one of those bizarre situations.
""As a coach you have to appreciate the fact that they never quit. If there was a time that they could have quit, it would have been this meet because a lot of their goals seemed a very far reach after we counted that fall, but they came back.""
Ryden praised freshmen Shana Sangston and Jordan Williams, who were able to step up for the team during the beam event. Ryden recalled that Sangston was physically shaking on the beam because of her nerves but was able to score a 9.750.
""We had some amazing individual performances with Miranda (Russell) and Katie (Matusik) standing out the most,"" Ryden said.
The regional meet was the last time that Russell would be performing for Arizona, as she's a fifth year senior. She was able to stand on the podium for her floor exercise earning a 9.875, which was good for a two way tie for third with fellow Wildcat Deanna Graham.
""I couldn't be more proud of Miranda Russell,"" Ryden said. ""I know for a fact that she is incredibly proud and thankful that she came back and I am thankful that she did come back. The fact that she feels that good about her year makes it that much sweeter for me as a coach.""
Matusik tied her career high on bars with a 9.800. Matusik also led the team on beam with a 9.875, which got her on the podium with second place. She ended her night breaking another career high with 9.800 during her floor routine.
""I think that was one of my best meets as a gymnast ever,"" Matusik said. ""It was a good way to end my junior year.""
Matusik was not chosen to perform her bars routine until the Wildcats were in the middle of their routines. Ryden chose to warm up seven gymnasts and chose Matusik because of how well she did in warm-ups.
""At the end of the day, we are all proud to be Wildcats,"" Matusik said. ""I know for Miranda (Russell) and me, it was just an awesome way to finish the season.""