Arizona Faces Illinois-Chicago in Season Opener - Tucson Local Media: Sports

Arizona Faces Illinois-Chicago in Season Opener

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Posted: Friday, January 10, 2014 11:02 am

Arizona at Illinois-Chicago

Saturday, Jan. 11 // 4 p.m. (MST)

Chicago, Ill.

Live Statshttp://www.uicflames.com/livestats/w-gym/20140111.htm

TUCSON, Ariz. – The Arizona gymnastics team is heading to Chicago, Ill., on Saturday, Jan. 11, for its first meet of the season. The No. 17 ranked Cats will be competing against Illinois- Chicago at 4 p.m. MST.

"We will be in decent shape for the meet this weekend," head coach Bill Ryden said. "We had a lot of things to catch up on because we hadn't had enough reps earlier on in the off-season, but we worked to change that. We are healthier and now our routines are beginning to improve, which is a positive. We definitely have a lot more depth this year. We just need to develop it a little more. The last month has been very positive. We haven’t had any setbacks, which bodes well going into our first meet."

Live stats will be available the day of the competition HERE. There will also be updates on Facebook.com/ArizonaGymnastics and on Twitter @AZGymnastics.

Scouting the Opposition:

Illinois-Chicago has 10 returning gymnasts and five newcomers this year. The Flames are led by their only senior, Catherine Dion, who finished 11th in the NCAA Regional Competition last year. The Flames have five freshmen joining the team who will be coached by co-head coaches Peter and Mary Jansson who are both in their 24th season. The Flames finished 11-14 last year and placed (redundant use of finished) first in the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference (MIC), which features six teams.

2013 Arizona Review:

The Wildcats completed the 2013 season with a season record of 17-15 and advanced to their 27th consecutive NCAA Regional Championships. Finishing sixth, overall, at the Pac-12 Championships and third in the NCAA Regional Championships, Arizona rounded out the season ranked No. 17 in the nation.

Arizona was led by senior Aubree Cristello, who was the lone qualifier to the NCAA National Championships for all-around. Cristello was one of the team's top all-around athletes, tying her career-high 39.475 three times as well as finishing her career with 2001.250 points, the second highest in program history.

Numerous freshmen stepped up despite roster injuries including Jessie Sisler and Shelby Edwards. Both freshmen received at least one Pac-12 Freshman/Newcomer of the Week award during the season. Sisler recorded a career-high 9.925, giving her one of the top program scores on floor. Edwards provided depth on beam recording scores despite an elbow injury that required her to perform an armless routine.

Look Out for New GymCats:

The Wildcats added a number of new faces this season, including two Arizona natives, Krysten Howard out of Phoenix and Selynna Felix-Terrazas from Tucson. Gabby Laub hails from Owasso, Okla., while Mackenzie Valentin comes from Mustang Okla. Also added to the roster is former gymnastics manager and Plano, Texas, native Shay Fox. All of these gymnasts were top J.O. competitors and should make an immediate impact in the lineups this season.

Pre-season Rankings:

The Arizona gymnastics team heads into the season ranked No. 17 in the 2014 Women's Pre-Season Coaches poll. The Wildcats are one of eight Pac-12 schools to place within the top 25, including No. 4 UCLA, No. 6 Utah, No. 9 Stanford, No. 12 Oregon State, No. 20 Washington, No. 22 California and No. 25 Arizona State.

Complete pre-season rankings can be found here:http://www.troester.com/gym/WRankings/2014/WCoachesPoll.htm

Stacked to the Max:

The Arizona gymnastics team is going to compete against one of the toughest schedules in the nation. According to RoadtoNationals.com, Arizona’s strength of schedule is ranked No. 8. Of the 12 regular season meets and 16 regular season opponents, the Cats will face eight ranked teams. Those opponents include No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 4 UCLA, No. 5 LSU, No. 6 Utah, No. 9 Stanford, No. 12 Oregon State, No. 20 Washington, No. 21 Kentucky and No. 25 ASU.

Ryden's Record:

Head coach Bill Ryden finished out the 2013 season with an overall even record of 220-198-3.

What's Coming Up:

The Wildcats will travel to No. 6 Stanford for a dual-meet on Sun., Jan., 19 for a 2 p.m. meet before returning to McKale for their first home meet of the season against No. 3 Oklahoma on Saturday, Jan. 25, at 4 p.m.

© 2014 Tucson Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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