Gymcats face rival Sun Devils on the road
With a point in the Territorial Cup Series up for grabs, No. 17 Arizona gymnastics will head to Tempe, Ariz. on Saturday to face rival No. 22 ASU.
Arizona defeated the Sun Devils last year in Tucson by a score of 196.500-193.850. However, the freshmen and sophomores on the team have not traveled to compete in Tempe yet, and they said that brings a special excitement to this meet.
“I think it’s more exciting, considering it’s our rivalry and it’s for the Territorial Cup,” freshman Mackenzie Valentin said. “We’re just going to have to stay really focused on us and what we want to do, and not let the rivalry take control.”
The Territorial Cup Series, a competition between the UA’s and ASU’s athletic departments, is tied at 3.5.
Arizona freshman Mackenzie Valentin trains at the Mary Roby Gymnastics Training Center in January. The Gymcats will have their first meet at ASU on Saturday.
“I think we all are really excited and I think we’re all really focused and determined to do well,” sophomore Shelby Edwards said. “Last year they were here, but going to Tempe this year makes it a totally different environment. As long as we don’t let ourselves get overwhelmed by that environment or the crowd, we’ll be great.”
However, head coach Bill Ryden said every team in the Pac-12 is a rival and their mentality heading into this week’s meet is no different than any other.“Everyone can win or lose at any given time,” Ryden said. “ASU is good this year, and certainly over the last eight years we have quite a streak against them going. … For us, since we don’t design an offense or a defense based on our opponent, if we go up there and just keep our focus and keep our intensity on what we’re doing, I think we’ll all be pretty pleased with the sum of that puzzle when it comes together.”
Ryden said that the focus of practice this week has been to regain the team’s focus.
“Certainly it’s a great opportunity for us to go up there and have a good meet and we’re looking forward to that,” Ryden said. “But we’re just looking to bring our A-game from the moment we step on the bus to the moment we get back on the bus.”
The competition will be available on the Pac-12 Network Saturday at 4 p.m.
—Follow Katie McCallister @KatieMacSports