The Arizona gymnastics team had one of their greatest performances of the year at Maverik Center in Utah. They finished tied for third in their bracket at the NCAA Regional Semifinals with a score of 196.025. The GymCats faced No. 3 LSU (197.025), No. 14 Kentucky (197.125) and No. 22 Utah State (196.025) on Friday, April 2.
The GymCats were supposed to face Temple on Thursday, April 1, for a play-in meet to see who would qualify for regionals. However, Temple had to withdraw due to COVD-19 regulations so the GymCats automatically moved on to face some of the best teams in the country.
The first rotation for the GymCats began on the vault, which has not been one of their strongest events this year. That changed at the regional semifinals as senior Payton Bellows got the GymCats off to a strong start with a score of 9.850.
Freshman Jessica Castles followed and posted a score of 9.825. The biggest score of 9.875 came from sophomore Malia Hargrove, matching her career-high. Arizona’s vault score of 49.050 was the first time the GymCats broke the 49-plus threshold on the event all season.
The GymCats did not get what they were looking for on the uneven bars during the second rotation. Hargrove, after a strong start on the vault, fell during her uneven bar routine and could only scrape together a 9.000.
Junior Mackinzie Kane and sophomore Zaza Brovendani each posted scores of 9.825 for the GymCats. The best performance came from freshman Bailey McCabe, tying her career-high score of 9.850. Even after McCabe put up a career performance, the GymCats still remained in last place.
With their two best events now ahead of them, the GymCats headed to the balance beam for the third rotation. Sophomore Avery Stauffacher started strong, tying her career-best score of 9.850. Hargrove bounced back after her last rotation fall and posted a score of 9.850.
Sophomore Sirena Linton went last for the GymCats and did what the anchor is supposed to do, posting a team-high score of 9.875.
The last rotation of the evening was the floor exercise. Freshman Elena Deets tumbled her way to a career-high score of 9.850. Sophomore Libby Orman crushed her career-best and posted a new high score of 9.900. Jessica Castles dazzled as well with a score of 9.875 and Hargrove finished things off for the GymCats with a score of 9.900.
Other key stats to note
- The GymCats’ meet score of 196.025 was their second-highest of the season.
- Seniors Laura Leigh Horton and Bellows performed for the final time in a GymCat uniform.
- Hargrove was the only all-around competitor for the Gymcats, finishing with a meet score of 38.625.
- The GymCats posted a season-high team score on Vault (49.050), Balance Beam (49.200) and Floor Exercise (49.275)
- Six GymCats either tied or set new career-highs in one of the four events.
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