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Arizona gymnast Malia Hargrove prepares for the biggest stage of her life: The national championships

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Chloe Hislop | The Daily Wildcat Malia Hargrove doing her floor routine at the February 1 meet against University of Utah. Hargrove has been training as a gymnast for 11 years.

It was just a few weeks ago that the Arizona gymnastics team was competing at the regional championships. Unfortunately, the GymCats did not qualify as a team for the national championships, and it was the end of the 2020-2021 season. 

With the season now over, the GymCats are now able to rest and focus on winding down. They can sleep in, order in food and put all their efforts solely into their classwork now that they do not have to worry about competing till next year. However, one GymCat will have to wait a little longer to relax.

Sophomore Malia Hargrove was notified that she had qualified to compete as an individual in the floor exercise at the national championships in Fort Worth, Texas. The last time Arizona had a GymCat qualify for individuals at the national championships was in 2016 with Lexi Mills on the balance beam. 

One must imagine that Hargrove was excited when she saw her name selected and that she was jumping for joy. Believe it or not, Hargrove was unaware she was selected until her mom called and told her. 

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“I was at home in my apartment doing physics homework and then my mom called me,” Hargrove said. “She asked me if I watched the [regional] gymnastics finals, and I said no because I was doing homework, and she told me I made it to nationals.” 

Hargrove was one of the best gymnasts for Arizona all year, especially on floor exercise. In the regional championships, she scored a 9.900 on floor exercise which was tied for first with many other gymnasts.

It was because of her stellar performances during the season and at regionals that Hargrove will now train for nationals. While most athletes would be intimidated by such a big stage, Hargrove is treating it as if it were any other gymnastics meet. 

“I have had so much training for preseasons and the actual season, so postseason should be easy-breezy,” Hargrove said. “I have been preparing all season, so I am ready for two more weeks and finish it up.” 

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Hargrove also feels very confident with her floor routine. She feels so confident that she does not think any changes need to be made to it, but rather, she just must work on perfecting her floor routine. 

“I feel that my routine is difficult enough,” Hargrove said. “[I have to] clean up the little details. My landings must be sharp and with my leap, I must hit the full [180-degree turn.] Skill-wise, I know I can score well, do well and compete with girls on the top teams.” 

She will get her wish because Hargrove’s competition is the best the country has to offer. She will compete against Emily Shepard of North Carolina State, Hannah McCrary of Missouri and Abbey Miner Alder of BYU. Alder tied Hargrove’s score of 9.900 at regionals, but Shepard and McCrary scored higher at 9.925. These hundredths of points will be the difference between the next champion and the first runner-up. Hargrove does have the advantage of going last in her event, meaning she will be able to watch all their routines and know what scores she will need to beat. 

“It is nice to be able to sit back and watch how [the judges] score,” Hargrove said. “I am not worried about how other [gymnasts] score or what I have to do to beat other people. I am more invested in going out there, soaking up the moment and doing the best routine I have done this whole year.”

Hargrove will head to Fort Worth, Texas to compete in the Women’s Gymnastics Championships at Dickies Arena on April 16-17. 


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