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Arizona GymCats failed by their best event, upset by Washington

Sophomore gymnast Libby Orman
Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

It was a comeback week of sorts for the Arizona GymCats. Last week, they missed their trip to Oregon State due to COVID-19 issues. They were also welcoming back sophomore Zaza Brovedani who had been out all year in concussion protocol.

It wasn’t the comeback any of them hoped for as Washington defeated Arizona 194.125 to 193.975.

“It’s going to hurt us, both in the conference and nationally,” Arizona head coach John Court said.

Court didn’t believe that the week off had any effect on their performance. Instead, they were failed by an inability to pick up their teammates when they had errors.

The GymCats were let down by their best event, scoring just 47.250 on the balance beam. They came in ranked No. 9 in the country on the event with an average of 49.050. It was by far their highest ranking in the four events.

On paper, No. 26 Arizona was favored over No. 44 Washington. The Huskies came in with only one score over 194 all season—a 194.050 against Oregon State two weeks ago. The GymCats’ lowest score all season was a 194.875 against California two weeks ago. On average, Arizona has outscored Washington 195.200 to 194.050 this season.

But it’s not about averages or rankings. It’s about executing on the day in question.

“We let one get away,” Court said.

The GymCats started out with a performance on par with their averages. They scored 48.775 on the vault to open the meet.

In their three previous meets, they were averaging 48.708 on vault. It was a promising starting number considering that the team has been much stronger in the second two rotations this season than it has been in the first two.

The uneven bars were above average for the season. The team scored 48.900, just under their season high of 48.950 that they set in Utah at the beginning of the season.

Sophomore Sirena Linton set a season high with a 9.800. Freshman Bailey McCabe tied her career high with another 9.800. MacKinzie Kane put up a 9.825 to lead the team.

The team went into the final two rotations trailing Washington 97.900 to 97.675. Based on previous meets this season, that wasn’t a big concern. With the No. 9 and No. 22 rankings on beam and floor, the difference was well within Arizona’s reach.

For the first time all season, the balance beam was the GymCats’ downfall. Only Jessica Castles’ 9.825 was over a 9.550. The team had to count a 9.175 and a 9.225.

The GymCats made a valiant attempt to come back on floor exercise. After a fall on the opening routine, the team went off.

Danielle Nosek and Elena Deets both scored career highs of 9.825. Malia Hargrove matched their scores, and Libby Orman led the team with a career-high 9.850.

“They’re going to have to learn, as young as they are, to put away competitions,” Court said. “And to know that, okay, you have an error here. For example, the first athlete on beam had an error, then we had the domino effect. On floor, the first athlete had a mistake and they didn’t let it affect them, and it needs to be like that.”

The GymCats have to get back on track quickly as they head to ASU for a non-conference meet on Wednesday, then continue on to face Stanford in Palo Alto on Friday.