TUCSON, Ariz. – The No. 18 Arizona women's gymnastics team sent their seniors off in style, posting the seventh best all-time floor total and a number of career highs to top the Tigers. Both Arizona and Missouri earned their season best totals, tallying scores of 196.625 and 195.450, respectively.
Both Aubree Cristello and Molly Quirk ended their McKale careers on a high note. Cristello tied for second place on both vault and bars, and tied her season high on floor to contribute to a first place finish all-around. Quirk earned the bronze for her bar performance, and posted a season high beam score to earn first place on the event.
"I would like to say this meet was great for Aubree and Molly – and it was – but it is also a lot of what they've been doing for four years. They had exceptional meets, but they've also been exceptional since they came," head coach Bill Ryden commented. "The legacy they will leave is something amazing. They have to be one of the most successful duos to have come through the program throughout the history of Arizona gymnastics."
After a difficult warm-up the Wildcats showed strength in the first event, earning a team total 49.100. Freshman Shelby Edwards earned her second consecutive score of 9.875 on the event, tying Cristello for second place overall.
"Shelby is really growing. Every week, every meet she's that much more confident. She's such a phenomenal gymnast that as she gets better, we get better," Ryden said. "Her vault was great, and we needed it. We were a little tight on vault to begin with, so it was nice to have her perform the way she did."
Other contributions came from the sophomore and junior classes. Danielle Buchanan posted yet another score of 9.800, and Amber Wobma and Kristin Klarenbach who tied Shana Sangston with triplet 9.775's.
The Wildcats kept the momentum in the second event, going one, two and three on bars. Sophomore Allison Flores earned a new career high 9.900 for first place, followed by Cristello who tied her career high 9.875 for second. In third was Quirk with a 9.825. Buchanan earned her second 9.800 of the night, and freshman Lexi Mills earned a 9.750 to round out a 49.150 team total.
"Bars was great. Welcome back Lexi Mills, she was much calmer and we really needed that score. Allie had a huge routine, and I can't say enough positive things about the rest of the lineup," Ryden said. "The girls really turned what could've been a disaster into something great. Meets like this don't happen without four solid events, and the bar team really stepped it up."
Beam was the Cats' lowest event of the night, as balance checks and landing deductions kept the Cats to a 48.950.
"We earned a good score, but as a team beam was still rough. We had some uncharacteristic wobbles and we know we can be much better on beam." Ryden said.
The highlight of the event was Quirk, who earned a season high 9.875 in her farewell routine in McKale. Cristello also contributed with a 9.800, Edwards earned a 9.775 and Mills and Wobma posted twin scores of 9.750.
Despite an uncharacteristic fall in second spot of the lineup, the floor team was able to rally and earn the best team floor total since 2007 with a 49.425. Both Flores and Wobma contributed solid scores of 9.850. However, it was the final three Wildcats that gave the crowd something to remember; freshman Jessie Sisler and Klarenbach got the ball rolling with two consecutive scores of 9.900. Then, to wrap up the lineup and end her home career, Cristello tied her season high of 9.925.
Cristello's score also enabled her to notch her 45th and 46th event/all-around titles, helping her to tie her career high 39.475.
"This meet is a perfect launching point as we're going in to the bigger tournament style meets. The added confidence and energy the team is going to have can only work in our favor. If there was ever a meet to come out strong, this was it. It only gets harder from this point on," Ryden concluded.
The first of the upcoming challenges will take place next week as the team travels to Corvallis, Ore. for the Pac-12 Championships. The meet is scheduled for March 23, the time is still TBA.
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