No. 20 GymCats edge out No. 19 California
Arizona gymnast Lexi Mills performs her floor routine during Arizona's 196.475-196.100 win against California in McKale Center on Saturday. After a fall on floor, Mills and the rest of her floor teammates completed five routines in a row to edge out California at home.
No. 20 Arizona gymnastics earned a key victory Saturday night by defeating the No. 19 California Golden Bears 196.475-196.100 at their annual Think Pink Meet. The meet supported and honored breast cancer survivors, as the Wildcats uniforms were pink and showcased the breast cancer ribbon.
The GymCats began the meet on the vault, totaling a team score of 48.950. Arizona gymnasts Jessie Sisler, Allie Flores and Shelby Edwards highlighted the event, all scoring a 9.825. Freshman Madison Cindric and sophomore Gabby Laub added scores of 9.750 and 9.725, respectively, for the Wildcats.
The Wildcats then moved to bars, where they were able to pick up their momentum. Leading the Wildcats were Laub and freshman Victoria Ortiz, who both tallied scores of 9.900 with their routines. It was Laub’s career high and the second meet in a row that Ortiz was able to produce such a number.
“This team has really helped my gymnastics, and everyone on the team is just so encouraging,” Ortiz said to the Pac-12 Networks. “I love Bill’s coaching, and I love just being able to show everyone what I can do and what I’ve been training for.”
Sophomore Krysten Howard finished her floor routine with a 9.875, contributing to their team score of 49.350. Overall, coach Bill Ryden seemed pleased with his team’s performance in the event.
“I’m proud of our bar team,” Ryden said in a press release. “This team competes so well, though. I’m so proud of this team, and they’re such a fun team to coach. They never get intimidated or nervous after mistakes, and I’m just so proud of that.”
The Wildcats gained just enough on the beam to take a .125 lead over the Golden Bears, making the margin very close heading into the last event. Edwards and junior Lexi Mills both scored a 9.850, which marked a season high for Edwards. Cindric produced a strong routine and earned a 9.825.
“The beam team did a great job,” Ryden said. “It wasn’t the cleanest I’ve seen, but they really fought hard. They didn’t let little mistakes turn into big mistakes, and they were able to hold onto the lead.”
Arizona finished the meet on floor and earned its highest total team score of the night with 49.350. After starting the event with a fall, Arizona countered with five strong performances in a row to capture the victory.
“At the anchor, I kind of feel like I have to really hold my own,” Flores said to the Pac-12 Networks. “No matter if there’s a fall or not, I got to do my job, got to get up there and hit and do what I practice.”
Mills earned a career high of 9.925, followed by Sisler, who scored a 9.900. Flores and freshman Kennady Schneider both scored 9.850, and sophomore Selynna Felix-Terrazas added a 9.825.
The Think Pink Meet was especially emotional for Arizona assistant coach Meredith Paulicivic, who has close family ties with cancer.
“I’m really proud that I didn’t tear up,” Paulicivic said in a press release. “It was a devastating day when we found out my mother had cancer, but, luckily, everything went well, and it’s been 3½ years that she’s been cancer-free. It’s huge to have something that big strike our family and be able to overcome it. Having my mom and family here tonight was great.”
The meet proved that the GymCats are not going to back down against top-25 opponents, especially Pac-12 Conference foes. Up next, the Wildcats will travel to Lansing, Mich., to compete against Michigan State and Eastern Michigan on Friday. Arizona will head to Denton, Texas, on Sunday to face Texas Women’s University.
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