GymCats look to defeat No. 5 UCLA for first time since 2006

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Jesus Barrera | The Daily Wildcat

Arizona gymnast Shelby Edwards runs in preparation for a vault in McKale Center on Friday, Jan. 8. The GymCats face No. 5 UCLA this weekend, whom they haven't defeated since 2006.

Arizona gymnastics will have a full plate come Saturday afternoon when the Wildcats host No. 5 UCLA in McKale Center.

Under new head coach Tabitha Yim, the GymCats are off to a fiery 2-0 start and will look to improve their undefeated ways against a tough Bruins team who has caused some major trouble over their years, to say the least.

The last time Arizona defeated UCLA in gymnastics was back in 2006.

That’s a scary statistic for Arizona fans to hear, but with luck on their side and a large crowd, anything is possible. Plus, a victory would prove to the rest of the Pac-12 Conference that the UA means business.

The Bruins are coached by Valorie Kondos Field, who is in her 26th year with the program. The Bruins finished in seventh place in 2015 and have a season record thus far of 1-1. Their only loss came to now No. 1 Florida.

If you look at experience, UCLA most certainly has the advantage. The Bruins return 10 total athletes and 17 of their total 24 routines in each meet.

When you look at the Wildcats, on the other hand, their sure-fire way to claim the victory will have to come with depth. Four GymCats have been handling the specialist role on three events including senior Shelby Edwards, senior Lexi Mills, junior Selynna Felix-Terrazas and sophomore Maddy Cindric.

Hoping to continue their streak of back-to-back event titles this season will be the duo of Gabby Laub and Kennady Schneider. Laub has rocked the uneven bars, while Schneider’s impressive self-choreographed floor routine has made heads turn.

The Wildcat freshmen have seen their fair share of each meet. Lauryn Mattson, Skyler Sheppard and Dani Spencer have walked away from their first two meets with some consistent high marks. Mattson has competed on both vault and floor, earning scores of 9.825 and 9.750 respectively. Sheppard has wowed on the balance beam, notching a career high of 9.825. Spencer has also seen some action on the uneven bars, rounding out the group with a career high of 9.775.

The Bruins, on the other hand, will bring confidence coming into the meet. UCLA is ranked first on floor, fourth on beam and 13th on both vault and bars. The four gymnasts who have stood out the most for UCLA are Danusia Francis, Sadiqua Bynum, Hallie Mossett and Angi Cipra.

Currently, Francis leads the nation on beam, averaging a score of 9.95.

History has not fared well for the Wildcats in this specific meet. UCLA leads Arizona 66-10 overall, with the Bruins having walked away victorious in the last 17 straight regular season matchups.

This meet means a lot for both teams as each will look to push the other out of the gym come Saturday. Arizona will have to have some historic performances if they want to come out victorious.


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