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Arizona Gymcats hearts broken in narrow defeat to rival Arizona State

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Megan Ewing | The Daily Wildcat

Elena Deets performs a routine on the uneven parallel bars at McKale, earning 9.775 points. The Wildcats took on Washington at McKale on Saturday, Feb. 20

It was a soul-crushing defeat on March 6 at Desert Financial Arena as the Arizona gymnastics team narrowly lost to No. 7 Arizona State by a meet score of 196.100-196.075. This marked ASU’s sixth straight victory against Arizona.

The Gymcats started strong on the uneven bars in the first rotation. Sophomore Zaza Brovendani was first up and posted a high score of 9.800. Fellow Gymcat Elena Deets followed suit and posted a score of 9.800. Even with those big scores, ASU finished with the top three scores on the uneven bars, including a 9.900 from Sun Devil Cairo Leonard-Baker. After one rotation, ASU jumped out to an early lead of 49.075-48.850. 

Next up was the vault for the Gymcats. Freshman Jessica Castles tied Sophomore Malia Hargrove for a score of 9.850. Unfortunately, the Sun Devils took the top two scores for the vault. It was enough to give ASU a commanding lead of 98.275-97.825 at the end of the second rotation. 

This meet mirrored what had happened a few weeks earlier against ASU, where the Gymcats went down big after two rotations and could not make up the deficit. 

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Then, the third rotation began. 

In a series of unfortunate events, Sun Devils Hannah Scharf and Sarah Clark fell off the balance beam during their routines. This opened the door for a comeback, and the Gymcats took full advantage. 

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Hargrove wasted no time in establishing her dominance on the floor exercise, tumbling her way to a monster score of 9.900. All the scores that counted for the Gymcats were above 9.800. After their sassy and sophisticated floor routines, the Gymcats jumped out to a 147.025-146.700 lead.

Heading into the fourth rotation, the Gymcats needed to be just short of perfect on the balance beam if they wanted to beat ASU. Castles stunned on the beam, posting a meet high score of 9.875. Her fellow Gymcats were not as lucky, as multiple routines had balance checks and landings that weren’t fully stuck that cost the team valuable points. 

The match then came down to the final two routines of the meet. Gymcat Sirena Linton on beam against Sun Devil Leonard-Baker on floor. Linton spun and leaped her way to a score of 9.825. Sadly, it was not enough, as Leonard-Baker finished with a score of 9.900 which was high enough to edge the Gymcats by 0.025.

The Gymcats will host their final home meet of the year against Air Force and Southern Utah on March 13 in McKale Center at 1 p.m. MST. 


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Updated September 18, 2021