The No. 17 Wildcats had a meet full of high scores and emotions Saturday as they took on the No. 18 Denver Pioneers. The Wildcats split the meet with Denver 196.850-196.850 and marked Arizona's first tied meet since 2004.
At the conclusion of the meet head coach Bill Ryden honored the three senior gymnasts who will be leaving the program in addition to team manager Ahnalee Cristello.
Although seniors Allie Flores, Amber Wobma and Shay Fox were introduced in McKale for the last time, their leadership and competitive drive will leave a lasting impact on the program.
"Amber (Wobma) and Allie (Flores) have been critical parts of this team the last four years," said head coach Bill Ryden. "They both came from well renounced club programs to join our team down here in the desert. Shay (Fox) has a story in itself and she has earned her spot. She more than proved her point that she could come back. Ahnalee (Cristello) has poured her heart into this program. She is my right hand woman and has done so much for us. This program is certainly a better one because of these four young women."
To begin the meet the Wildcats hit the vault for the last time in McKale this season. The team earned a score of 49.075.
With senior Allie Flores injured the Wildcats put five gymnasts in the lineup for vault. Leading the team was junior Jessie Sisler with a 9.850 and a new career best. Junior Shelby Edwards and freshman Madison Cindric earned a pair of 9.825's. Sophomore Gabby Laub received a 9.800. Sophomore Selynna Felix-Terrazas rounded out the vault lineup with a 9.775.
"The team is still getting used to not having Allie (Flores) on the floor," said Ryden. "Vault was impacted the most by her injury even though we are trying to get some new people in the lineup. Despite us only having five competing on vault tonight we still did well after the first rotation. I wasn't nervous at all about putting five out there but I wasn't sure how we would score. I'm so impressed that the five were still able to score a 49, I couldn't be more proud."
With the Denver Pioneers only .050 points behind the Wildcats the team continued onto bars for the second rotation. The team earned a score of 49.275.
Cindric, who has only gotten stronger as the season has progressed, competed on bars for the first time in her collegiate career and received a 9.925. Junior Lexi Mills, freshman Victoria Ortiz and sophomore Krysten Howard each contributed scores of 9.850. Laub earned a 9.800 and Felix-Terrazas unfortunately fell and received a 9.150.
"I'm very happy with the effort of the bars team tonight," said Ryden. "I was surprised Selynna (Felix-Terrazas) had a miss because that's rare for her but I'm very happy with how the team stepped up after that."
Going into the third rotation the team trailed the Pioneers 98.375-98.350. Looking to gain the lead back the team earned a 49.225.
Senior Shay Fox had the performance of her career on beam after earning 9.900 on the event. Mills followed behind with a 9.875. In only her second collegiate performance on beam Howard earned a career high 9.850. Sisler posted a score of 9.825. Edwards and Cindric both received scores of 9.775. Senior Amber Wobma competed an exhibition routine on beam and received a 9.000. Wobma has not competed this season due to injury.
"Beam is looking good," said Ryden. "The look of the beam team is just outstanding. Their grace and elegance is great, I love it. We nickelled and dimed ourselves a bit but I know they can do even better."
Despite the exceptional performance on beam the Wildcats were unable to recover their lead. The team went into the final rotation behind Denver 147.750-147.575. The meet was close the entire evening and the final score proved how tight the competition. The Wildcats earned a 49.275 in the final rotation and ended the meet with a tied score.
Mills once again led the lineup on floor after receiving a 9.900. Fox followed with a season high 9.875. Freshman Kennady Schneider earned a 9.850. Cindric and Felix-Terrazas posted two 9.825's. Last in the lineup was Sisler with a 9.800.
"The meet really came down to the wire," said Ryden. "But once again the girls really pushed through. We have more depth on floor so this was the event least impacted by Allie's (Flores') injury. We had a few issues that we normally don't have but I'm so proud of the efforts of this team. The team has overcome so many obstacles this season and it's so satisfying from a coach's perspective."
Cindric's exceptionally high score for her first appearance on bars led her to a first place finish on the event. Teammates Howard, Mills and Ortiz finished third. Fox's career high on beam gave her a first place finish followed by Mills and Howard in second and third, respectively. Mills brought home second place on floor.
Cindric not only made her appearance on the uneven bars but she also made her first appearance in the all-around competition. She finished the meet with an all-around score of 39.350, finishing behind Denver's Nina McGee.
"Madison (Cindric) is such a fierce competitor," said Ryden. "We've known that she is one to really step up to the occasion. She is such a talented gymnast and I'm looking forward to seeing her develop even more."
Saturday's meet marked the end of the regular season for the GymCats. Next up for the team is the Pac-12 Championship in Salt Lake City, Utah. The championship will be split into two sessions at one p.m., and six p.m., and will be aired live on the Pac-12 Network.