In senior finale, Hornbeek leads Arizona to narrow win

By Arlie Rahn
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 1, 1996

When the Arizona gymnastics seniors finished their final performance in McKale Center Friday night, they had nothing but smiles. But in Arizona's 195.325 -194.7 victory over Arizona State, the biggest smile belonged to UA freshman Heidi Hornbeek.

Hornbeek shattered Arizona's all-time record in the all-around competition with a 39.65. That mark broke the record of 39.525 that she set earlier in the year. She finished second in the vault (9.90), first on the bars (9.925) and first on the floor (9.925) against the Sun Devils.

"I really felt good tonight," Hornbeek said. "But everybody did well, not just some individuals. We just need to keep up our consistency."

The eighth-ranked Wildcats (25-4) opened up a 97.8-97.35 lead with solid efforts in the vault and bars, but Arizona went back to their old ways on beam as the first three UA competitors fell.

"When we fell like that on the beam, I was ready to go on an extended vacation," Gault said. "But we made up for it with three great beam routines to end it and keep us in the meet."

Starting with Hornbeek's 9.9, Arizona calmly scored three times over 9.875. Included in that was sophomore Nancy Milberger's 9.925, which was good enough for third in the event. But with a slim 146.025-145.6 lead going into the final event, the Wildcats knew they would need a solid effort to salvage the meet.

"We knew with us in the floor and ASU on the beam that we would need a great score because of ASU's ability on the beam," Gault said. "And to our girls' credit, we got it."

Arizona dodged the Sun Devils' 49.1 score on the beam by countering with a 49.3 mark in the floor. That mark tied the Wildcat record set earlier this year against Oregon State and Brigham Young. Arizona took the top three spots in the floor with freshmen Maureen Kealey and Kristin McDermott finishing second (9.90) and third (9.90), respectively, to Hornbeek's 9.925.

After the meet was over, the finality started to settle in for seniors Darci Wambsgans, Shane Allbritton, Jessica Marshall and Karen Tierney.

"This was incredible," Tierney said. "After the great presentation our teammates gave us before the meet, it really didn't matter whether we won or lost. But winning in our final time in McKale Center is great, and hopefully, we can build on that for the regionals."

But Arizona's inability to consistently perform on the beam event still discourages Gault.

"Right, we need to work on just going out there and kicking some butt in that event. I'm not sure what I can do except just working on it in practice," he said. "Hopefully we will improve on it after a little bit of fine-tuning over the next couple weeks."

Arizona is off until the regional tournament on April 13. Winners in the regionals qualify for the NCAA Championships.