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Arizona GymCats dominate in win over Sacramento State

Arizona GymCat Sirena Linton
Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

Wins are great in college gymnastics, but scores are what really matter. After four straight weeks of hitting 196 or higher, the Arizona GymCats stumbled last week and fell below that mark. The goal on Thursday afternoon was to get back on track and stabilize their national qualifying scores to help them get into the postseason.

“We practice really good every day, so we knew we could do it if we just put it all out there,” said sophomore Jessica Castles.

Arizona did put it all out there, scoring over 49 on all four events. The GymCats defeated the Sacramento State Hornets 196.375 to 192.475 and improved to 2-9 on the season. More important than the record was exceeding the 196 mark once again. It was the third-highest score the team had earned this season.

“It’s the NQS time of year, so you want to try to outscore your lowest counting score at home, which for us was 195.975 from last week, and we were able to do that tonight,” head coach John Court said. “Even though it was still a very small margin, when you look at the rankings, it’s like .001 that decides (among) 10 different teams. So we helped ourselves tonight and it’s nice to have three 196 home scores this year. We haven’t been able to say that in quite some time.”

A big reason they were able to do that was the performance of Castles. She didn’t compete with the team during two meets earlier in the month, but she said she feels “refreshed and excited for the rest of the season.” It showed on Thursday afternoon when she set a career high to win vault with a 9.875 and placed second on beam with a 9.850, trailing only the 9.900 earned by teammate Sirena Linton.

Sophomore Caroline Herry also had a strong showing. She started the meet for the team, performing the first vault for a career high of 9.800. She improved as the meet progressed, tying her season high 9.825 on beam, then scoring a 9.900 to win floor exercise. It was the third time this season Herry had scored at least 9.900 on floor.

Despite the great performances overall, the GymCats weren’t without issues. The problems cropped up once again on bars which has been a tricky event for the team this season. The team has had at least one fall on bars in six of their nine meets. They have been forced to count a fall on bars twice including in their last meet when they had to count a 9.025 after both Linton and senior MacKinzie Kane fell.

Against Sacramento State, it was only one miss, so they were able to drop the score. However, it is still a concern that the team has had so many missed routines on the bars this season.

“We work on these things every day and we have to execute them better this time of year because everyone’s sticking,” Court said.

There are still tasks to be accomplished if the team wants to make the postseason. They will compete again on Saturday at Brigham Young, giving them very little time to recover, but they need to perform well on the road to stay in the race.

“The second goal is (get) treatment, go to Guadalajara Grill for dinner with everybody, and then we get on a plane to Salt Lake City and bus to Provo,” Court said. “We have to do well on the road because we have a 195.5 that we’re trying to knock out of there. So everyone around the country—that’s 15 teams that are all in the race for those last eight spots. We just want to make sure that we keep doing our part.”