UCLA and Georgia have dominated the collegiate gymnastics scene, combining for 13 of the last 14 NCAA national championships. Needless to say, when the Arizona gymnastics team takes on the Bulldogs and Briuns in Los Angeles this weekend, the Wildcats need to bring their A-game.
The meet will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday at Pauley Pavillion.
Head coach Bill Ryden insists that the team can compete with any team in the country as long as it puts everything together. Last week, for the first time all year, Arizona excelled in its beam set and scored a season high of 49.200. Even with the strong beam score, the Wildcats struggled during their floor rotation.
If the Wildcats want a chance to take down two of the most successful teams in collegiate gymnastics they will have to put all four events together. ""It's constantly on our mind,"" Ryden said. ""If we can change up some of the routines by easing up on difficulty without sacrificing our score, we will do that. But we just got to learn our lessons.""
The squad has some experience in facing top-tier competition since it already hosted the No. 2 Stanford Cardinal. The Cardinal eventually won, 195.300-194.675, but the meet was down to the wire.
""We're not scared of competing against anybody,"" Ryden said. ""It's just more of we need to go out there and put down our routines.""
Assistant coach John Court, the floor coach, realized that the gymnasts were not able to adjust to the floor's surface last week, and that may have aided in their low score.
""One thing everyone has to realize is that when we are kind of deep on a event you always have to be sharp,"" Court said.
The Bruins and Bulldogs have won 16 of the last 29 NCAA national championships, but the surging Arizona gymnastics team isn't ready to back down.
""We know we can compete with them,"" Ryden said. ""I'm not worried at all.""
Matusik named performer of the week
Junior Katie Matusik was awarded the Pacific 10 Conference Special Performance of the Week last week for her beam routine, which earned her a 9.925.
""When you have a freshman who has a bad practice, you really don't know what you are going to get out of them,"" Ryden said. ""With Katie (Matusik) I have seen her train and compete for so long that I trust her, even when she has a bad practice I believe she will do well in the competition.""
Matusik is the fourth Wildcat this year to earn special recognition from the Pac-10. Miranda Russell was given Special Performance of the Week and Deanna Graham and Aubree Cristello were awarded Gymnast of the Week.