GymCats showcase preseason skills

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Jose Toro | The Daily Wildcat

UA gymnast Victoria Ortiz strikes a pose on the balance beam during the GymCats Showcase on Dec. 5 in McKale Center. 

Strength, flexibility and skill are what the University of Arizona gymnastics team brought to the floor during their annual 2017 GymCat Showcase in McKale Center on Tuesday, Dec. 5. 

“I thought the showcase was really good,” head coach John Court said. “The team was obviously nervous, but they were excited and nerves are good this time of year. Tonight certainly helped. They are used to being in the gym with their teammates, and now a bunch of people are watching and the pace is different. They have to be comfortable being uncomfortable.”

Although it was a time for the Wildcats to give a sneak peek for the 2018 season, the showcase was an opportunity for the freshman GymCats to get a feel for what it’s like to be under the bright lights in McKale Center.

“We’ve been training really hard for the past few months, and it is good to just come out and do our routines for the first time to get all those nerves out before the first meet,” freshman Payton Bellows said.

Freshman including Bellows, Sydney Freidin, Laura Leigh Horton and Adra Parks performed on all events. Freidin performed a solid routine on the beam, followed by Bellows. Horton and Parks tumbled through the showcase on floor.

“It was their first time in McKale, and it takes time to get used to things. All four went to an area that they specialize in,” Court said. “Peyton is a fantastic vaulter, Adra is a very artist floor worker and Laura Leigh provides some quality and depth on floor.” 

Returning to redeem themselves from last season is the sophomore class, which includes Christina Berg, Courtney Cowles, Jenny Leung, Maddi Leydin and Heather Swanson. The sophomores performed solid skills throughout the showcase and are optimistic about the 2018 season. 

“They did more. I think people were surprised. Courtney is a fabulous floor worker, and that’s the first floor routine she has done in three years,” Court said. “We saw what Christina Berg can do on uneven bars, and she will be one of the best gymnasts in the conference. Heather and Maddi are both very good valuters.”

The crowd showed excitement for the returning junior GymCats Haylie Hendrickson, Lauryn Mattson and Danielle Spencer. The juniors showed new skills that they have been working on for the past two months.

Seniors Madison Cindric, Victoria Ortiz and Kennady Schneider brought the most experience to the floor and helped guide the freshman through the showcase. Fans didn’t see Ortiz showcase her uneven bars routine due to a small injury in the preseason.

“It’s not Vic’s first time in McKale,” Court said. “She is a veteran and an All-Conference athlete, and she’ll be ready to go [come] the first meet.”

Both Cindric and Schneider are team captains this season along with Berg. For Schneider, Court sees that senior leadership role as someone the team can rely on when performing on bars, beam and floor. 

“Moving forward, we will do some open gym and resume practice on Dec. 27. We have from the 27 to Jan. 5 to get ready and we fully expect to be first-meet ready,” Court said. “We are excited to get out there for the first meet.” 

The GymCats open up the 2018 season with a quad meet against Denver, Rutgers and New Hampshire in McKale Center on Saturday, Jan. 6, at 4 p.m.



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