GymCats top Michigan State, move up to No. 10 in rankings

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Jesus Barrera | The Daily Wildcat

Arizona gymnast Shelby Edwards on the balance beam in McKale Center on Friday, Jan. 8. Arizona defeated Michigan State and moved up to No. 10 in the national rankings.

Arizona gymnastics was consistent under then-head coach Bill Ryden for 17 years. With new head coach Tabitha Yim taking the reins, the GymCats kept that consistency and added some new changes as they defeated Michigan State 195.700-193.775 in McKale Center.

“It was just an exciting night all around,” Yim said to Pac-12 Networks. “Wow, I was blown away with just the Tucson community here really embracing this team and to see the team come out and do what they have been practicing all preseason; it was just a great night all around.”

Right off the bat, the introduction of players and coaches was immediately more intense. Plus, Arizona broke its attendnace record with 3,707.

Freshman Lauryn Mattson (9.825), Dani Spencer (9.725) and Skyler Sheppard (9.825) impressed on vault, bars and beam, respectively.

“I think it was just a great way to kick off the season,” Yim said. “We just want to build from here. We still have a lot depth to bring in on the other events. I’m just really proud of my team tonight.”

The Wildcats also drew the crowd into the meet with #ARIZONASTICK. Whenever a Wildcat stuck a landing, fans were expected to stomp their feet and scream out “stick.”

The Wildcats tallied a total team score of 48.975 on vault, highlighted by Mattson and sophomore Madison Cindric. The two earned first place finishes in the event.

Moving onto the uneven bars, Arizona tallied a 48.925. Junior Gabby Laub contributed a 9.850, while senior Lexi Mills added a 9.825.

The Wildcats combined for a 48.950 in their third rotation on the balance beam. Sheppard, who was coached on the sidelines by Yim to improve her confidence, performed a stellar routine to earn first place in the event.

The GymCats concluded the meet on the floor for their fourth and final rotation. Sophomore Kennady Schneider finished in first place with a self-choreographed routine that brought fans to their feet. The routine concluded with the ever-famous dance move “the dab,” which went viral.

“Life complete,” Schenider wrote on Twitter. “I just dabbed on national TV.”

Arizona seemed to impress throughout and even caught the eye of one former opponent who was broadcasting the meet on Pac-12 Networks.

“They are working on their energy, they already have the team chemistry and they are only going to get better from here,” said former Olympian and UCLA star and current Pac-12 Networks color analyst, Samantha Peszek, of the Wildcats effort.

Up next, Yim and her team head to Denton, Texas, to face Texas Woman’s University on Jan. 17.

The Wildcats moved up to No. 10 in the national rankings after the vitctory. The ranking is one of their highest in recent years.


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