(Tucson, AZ) Kim Doss
The season that started with their head coach suddenly leaving to coach a rival squad ended Saturday night when the Arizona GymCats hosted the PAC-12 Gymnastics Championships for the first time since 2010. While some individual GymCats will move on to compete for individual honors in NCAA regionals, the team ended with an eighth-place finish in a stacked conference.
The GymCats spent last weekend facing the #2 LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge only to return to compete in a conference meet featuring #3 UCLA, #4 Utah, #8 Washington, #10 California, #11 Oregon State and #17 Arizona State. In fact, the only two teams not ranked in the top 20 of NCAA Gymnastics were #30 Stanford and #37 Arizona. Facing such competition was a good preparation for all the teams and gymnasts who hope to advance to the NCAA tournament.
Arizona took part in the first session of competition along with OSU, ASU and Stanford. As has been their tendency this month, the GymCats excelled on the balance beam. The team turned in a strong performance to win the event in the first session with a score of 49.225, placing fifth overall. Unfortunately, it was the only event where they broke the important 49-point mark.
Two GymCats also competed in the All Around competition. Madison Cindric placed sixth in the first session with a score of 39.225, while Maddi Leydin’s 39.075 put her in seventh in the early group. Overall, Cindric placed 13th in a field of 17 all around gymnasts and Leydin placed 14th. Both gymnasts were pictures of consistency. Cindric scored at least a 9.800 in three of four events, while Leydin scored a 9.775 or higher in three of the four.
In the apparatus competitions, Kennady Schneider and Victoria Ortiz turned in the highest scores for the GymCats on any apparatus, with Schneider putting up a 9.875 on the floor and Ortiz matching it on the balance beam.
Ortiz’s score on beam tied her for first in the opening session with the Beavers’ Destinee Davis and the Sun Devils’ Ashley Szafranski.Overall, her 9.875 was the third-highest score on beam throughout the championships, although seven gymnasts scored either a 10.0 or 9.900. The overall competition on the balance beam was won by UCLA’s Christine “Peng Peng” Lee, who turned in the only perfect 10 of the meet.
Schneider’s 9.875 on the floor exercise tied Stanford’s Rachael Flam and Kyla Bryant for the second highest score in the first session. They were only outpaced in the early competition by ASU’s Anne Kuhm and Cairo Leonard-Baker, both of whom turned in scores of 9.900. Like her teammate, she would be one of several gymnasts to turn in the third best score overall. In this case, eight other athletes would score either a 9.95 or 9.9. UCLA’s Katelyn Ohashi and Utah’s MyKayla Skinner were co-champions of the event with matching scores of 9.95.
While this meet officially ended the season for the GymCats, new head coach John Court can look forward to building the program he has committed the last twenty years to. The team will lose seniors Schneider, Cindric and Ortiz, but Coach Court and his assistants can begin putting together their first class as a new staff on July 15th. In the interim, a few GymCats will continue putting on the cardinal and navy in the NCAA regionals.