GymCats' dynamic duo honored with All-Conference awards
Kennady Schneider and Victoria Ortiz dance to "Shake it Off' between events during Arizona's 194.025-191.600 win over Utah State and Texas Woman's at McKale Center on Friday, Jan. 6, 2017.
The Arizona gymnastics team is back home after taking third place during the first session of the Pac-12 Championships. The GymCats tied their previous season high score of 196.275 as Stanford finished in first 196.625 and California came in second with 196.300.
Coming out of the Pac-12 Championship is the powerful duo of junior GymCats Victoria Ortiz and Kennady Schneider. They were both awarded Pac-12 All-Conference. Ortiz was awarded Pac-12 All-Conference on the uneven bars where she is ranked No. 6 in the Pac-12 and Schneider was awarded Pac-12 All-Conference on the floor where is ranked No. 8.
Ortiz and Schneider have been a strong duo since the beginning of their freshman year at the UA and have given everything they have to the GymCat program.
Ortiz has held her duty as the anchor on the uneven bars since her freshman year where she earned her career high of a 9.900 right away against Arizona State. During the 2016-2017 season, Ortiz has shown nothing but growth in her performances as she tied her career high this season against Oregon State.
Ortiz had a strong grip on bars as she went on a 9.900 or higher run as she scored 9.900 against California, earned a new season and career high of 9.950 against Washington, 9.900 against UCLA and ended the streak at home against Arizona State with a score of 9.925.
“As a walk-on, getting All-Conference on uneven bars is such a huge accomplishment for me,” Ortiz said. “I love the event more than I can explain so being able to be recognized by the Pac12 Conference makes me feel so blessed.”
Ortiz will go into her senior year hoping to make First Team All-Conference on the uneven bars and hopes to stay healthy to be able to contribute in every meet on bars and beam.
“Coaches Tabitha [Yim], John, David, weight trainer Rob Harris, and my athletic trainer Sam Yeoman work so hard and dedicate so much time to us that I can only pay them back by working just as hard inside and outside of the gym,” Ortiz said. “I want to leave Arizona Gymnastics knowing I did everything I could to be to be the best athlete. I thank my club coach Gina Mueller for preparing me for college competitions and current bar coach David McCrearey for pushing me to my highest potential, he's truly a great coach and I'm lucky to work with him.”
At the Pac-12 Championships, Ortiz earned a 9.850 on the uneven bars and is currently tied for second in Arizona's individual bar score history with former GymCats Heidi Hornbeek, Marueen Kealey, Kara Fry, Nikki Beyschau and Monica Bisordi.
Schneider brought it all to the floor during the 2016-2017 season showing the artist and athlete within. Schneider has choreographed all of her floor routines while being at the UA as she brought spunk and power to the floor. This season Schneider didn’t hold back as her tumbling passes were solid and dominant during every routine.
Earning her first career high of 9.875 right in the beginning against Stanford, Schneider continued to secure high numbers. Schneider tied her career high against Oregon State and didn’t slow down as she earned a new career high of 9.925 against California on February 10.
Schneider’s energetic routines are full of endurance and athleticism and landed her back-to-back high scores of 9.900 against UCLA and rival Arizona State. Schneider’s performed top-notch tumbling, which many would say, comes right out of the textbook.
“Coming in as a freshman, floor and beam weren’t actually my strongest events. I would have considered my strongest event to be bars,” Schneider said. “I think it’s interesting to see that Arizona Gymnastics has kind of chosen what type of gymnast I have turned out to be based on where the team is weakest and where my role is most needed. I see myself as a competitor, and I have grown into my spots on these events. As an athlete, things come very naturally to me, so that has aided me a lot in going out there and hitting it hard every time I salute the judges. Getting Pac-12 All-Conference doesn’t come as a surprise to me. I’ve been extremely consistent this year, and I think I deserve it. I’m so grateful for this honor in the conference.”
Going into her senior year, Schneider will always have the goal on mind of making it to nationals whether individually or as a team.
“I’m on the countdown to retirement now, and gymnastics doesn’t last forever,” Schneider said. “As a senior I want to go through my season with the love and passion that I had for the sport when I first started it at age two. I want to forget the scores, judges, and politics and I want to have fun. I think that having fun and being truly happy for my last year of the sport will let me leave with a full heart and looking back with no ‘what ifs’.”
Ortiz and Schneider will always have their memories of being GymCats together, but they will hold on to this accomplishment together in their friendship.
“Hearing that we got All-Conference together was so exciting and awesome,” Ortiz said. “Kenn is like my other half, I'm just happy to be able to have such an amazing and talented teammate. It's no surprise that she got All-Conference as well. This accomplishment is something that we did together.”
Schneider is the type of person who feels happiness and pride when her teammates accomplish a goal along with her.
“If I had gotten All-Conference by myself, it wouldn’t have been as fulfilling,” Schneider said. “I was happy when I saw that I had gotten it, but when I saw that my best friend Victoria got it as well, I started to cry because I was so proud of her. I think that when you look at us as gymnasts, we are extremely memorable performers on uneven bars and floor. That’s what has gotten us to where we are today. We just work so hard.”
The No. 25 GymCats will head to Lincoln, Nebraska to compete at the NCAA Lincoln Regional on Saturday, April 1 at 2 p.m.
This will be the 37th consecutive season the GymCats had advanced to the NCAA regional competition.
The GymCats will take on top seed LSU, Boise State, Nebraska, Iowa State and Minnesota. The final top two teams in the competition will receive a bid to the NCAA Championships in St. Louis, Missouri.
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