The Arizona gymnastics team finished their senior day meet on a high note with a score of 196.000 that was good enough to beat Air Force (193.175) and fall just short of Southern Utah (196.150) on Saturday, March 13 at McKale Center.
The spotlight was on seniors Laura Leigh Horton and Payton Bellows, as it would be their last time competing at McKale Center as Gymcats. In attendance was also senior Sydney Fredin, who was forced to retire her junior year due to medical issues. Fredin was honored at the end of the meet with a video tribute and a framed jersey to commemorate her time at the University of Arizona. Horton and Bellows also received these honors.
Horton got things going during the first rotation for the Gymcats on vault, posting a score of 9.650. Bellows also participated in the vault, scoring a 9.750 in what would be her final event as an Arizona Gymcat. Bellows was thankful for her time at the UA and is very excited to pursue her career as a physical therapist.
“I got accepted into grad-school in New York,” Bellows said. “My plan is to go to grad-school in New York and then end up back home in Massachusetts.”
The Gymcats led the meet heading into the second rotation. Next up were the uneven bars, and sophomore Malia Hargrove scored a meet and career-high 9.850. Freshman Bailey McCabe followed close behind with a score of 9.825. Southern Utah managed to catch the Wildcats and took the lead by a score of 97.825 to the Gymcats 97.750. Air Force trailed both teams with a score of 96.650.
After falling behind, the Gymcats needed to make a push during the third rotation on the balance beam. Freshman Caroline Herry did just that, posting a career-high score of 9.900. Gymcats Sirena Linton and Avery Stauffacher posted scores of 9.850. That allowed the Gymcats to cut down the lead heading into the final rotation. Arizona’s beam score of 49.150 tied their season-high.
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The last rotation was floor exercise, which meant it was Horton’s last as a Gymcat. In the end, she posted a career-high score of 9.800. Horton was thrilled it came at such a time as this.
“It felt pretty good,” Horton said. “I love competing and I love floor [exercise], so that was fun.”
Hargrove got the highest score of 9.875 for the Gymcats. Earlier, though,
sophomore Danielle Nosek, who is usually strong on floor exercise, fell during her routine and that was ultimately the deciding factor of Southern Utah edging the Gymcats.
Regardless of the result, head coach John Court was proud of his team, especially Bellows and Horton.
“Both [Bellows] and [Horton] are great young people,” Court said. “It is never goodbye with me; it is more of a see you later.”
With the regular season wrapped up, the Gymcats will head to West Valley City, Utah and compete for the Pac-12 championship on March 20 at the Maverik Center.
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