Arizona gymnastics not only lost a meet (197.575-196.925) to No. 1 Oklahoma, it also lost one of its leaders to an injury. However, the Gymcats then regrouped to have one of their best meets ever.
The No. 17 Gymcats’ (2-2) total score of 196.925 on Saturday against the Sooners is the best since 2004 and fifth-highest in program history. It came after senior Jordan Williams slipped and fell off the bars and had to leave the meet.
“It was a great effort from the team,” head coach Bill Ryden said. “We had to rebound from adversity when we lost Jordan, the girls in her place stepped up and did a fantastic job and overall it was our best team effort of the year.”
In their first two meets, only one Gymcat has competed in the all-around: Williams.
But the Gymcats carried on, and sophomore Shelby Edwards earned a 9.800 on the bars. The UA did even better in the last two events, beam and floor.
“It’s unfortunate, and it’s really scary at the time, but I think everyone just has to focus on moving forward,” junior Kristin Klarenbach said of Williams’ injury. “It’s a tough thing to do, and kudos to the girl after that, that hit her routine.”
Every Gymcat tied or set a new career on the beam as the team posted a 49.050, a season best, while Oklahoma got a 49.525.
Edwards earned a 9.850 and tied for second best. Juniors Amber Wobma and Allie Flores each tallied a 9.800 and senior Shana Sangston got a 9.775.
“The girls have witnessed quite a few injuries in their day,” Ryden said. “They know that it happens and while they don’t like to see it, they know they have a job to do. I’m very proud of Shelby [Edwards] and Allie [Flores] for getting their heads clear and finishing up the bar rotation and the rest of the team for regrouping and taking the rest of the meet home.”
Arizona scored a 49.425 on the floor to end the meet, the 10th best mark in school history.
“I haven’t heard of a better score from us in years and it’s awesome to be a part of that, really,” Flores said. “All of us just contributed, and there was so much energy and it was an awesome experience.”
Arizona won the floor, 49.425-49.150, and took the three top scores. Klarenbach tied her career high, 9.925, and won the title.
“Honestly, it’s amazing,” Klarenbach said about the Gymcats’ top five score. “We came in against the number one team, and we just wanted to prove ourselves and show that we could compete with them, and that was a great score and we’re really proud of it.”
On the floor, Wobma and Flores also scored career highs, 9.900, and tied for second. Sangston scored 9.850, also a career high.
The UA opened the meet on the vault, where it scored a 49.200, while the Sooners got a 49.450.
Klarenbach finished third with a score of 9.875. Wobma and Edwards both scored a 9.850, a career high for Wobma. Freshman Mackenzie Valentin also earned a career high, 9.825.
Arizona scored a 49.250 on the bars despite the fall — which earned Williams an 8.550 — just behind OU’s 49.450. Flores finished second, with a 9.900, and tied her career high. Freshman Gabby Laub also posted a career high with 9.875.
Ryden said he wasn’t sure about the status of Williams, who injured her upper body and had her arm in a sling later on in the meet.
“I’m hopeful that her season won’t be over and that she’ll return,” Ryden said. “We’re hopeful, but I don’t really know anything.”
The next meet for the Gymcats is against No. 21 Washington at home on Saturday
—Follow James Kelley @jameskelley520