The Arizona GymCats coaching staff went in hoping for two things at the Pac-12 Championships: hit 24 of 24 routines for the first time this season and score at least 196.375. They not only accomplished that, but junior all-arounder Malie Hargrove won the Session I all-around competition over eight other athletes and finished fourth overall in a field that included several former elite gymnasts and Olympians.
“She showed up today,” said Arizona head coach John Court. “They all showed up.”
The score was exactly what the team needed to lock in a spot in regionals.
“They did everything that we asked for,” Court said. So I couldn’t be more proud of the coaches, support staff, the gymnastics team.”
The GymCats finished third in the early session and seventh overall. They competed against UCLA, Washington, and Stanford in Session I, while ASU, California, Oregon State, and Utah went in the evening session. Utah won the conference title with the best score in both sessions.
Many teams might be concerned about starting off on balance beam. As the No. 8 seed in the tournament, Arizona didn’t get a choice. The other three teams got to select the event they wanted to start on, so the GymCats were left with beam. It turned out to be an advantage.
The GymCats put up their highest score of the day with a 49.225. At the time, it put them in the lead with a .200 advantage over both UCLA and UW.
“Best beam performance of the year,” Court said. “Aly Fears went up there and started us off with a 9.8, and everybody else never looked back.”
They would hold that lead through the first two rotations, but both the Bruins and the Huskies were able to pass them in the final two rotations. Still, it was the first time the GymCats had hit all 24 of their routines this season. They didn’t have to count or even drop falls or major breaks in their routines.
“That’s what it was gonna take,” Court said. “And that was the focus: conference pride, making routines.”
Next step will be waiting to see where they are sent for regionals.
“Our season is still going on,” Court said.