By Arlie Rahn
Arizona Daily Wildcat January 16, 1996
The seventh-ranked Arizona gymnastics team gave a home crowd of 773 a taste of what its season holds when the Wildcats defeated Denver 191.775-186.100. Arizona had a first-place finish in each of the four events and the all-around competition.
"Anytime you hit almost a 192 in your first meet is something to be proud of," UA coach Jim Gault said. "We pretty much vaulted the lights out and our effort on the bars was fantastic."
Leading the charge was freshman all-around competitor Heidi Hornbeek, who not only finished first in the all-around, but her mark of 38.975 ranks eighth best in Arizona history.
"I was nervous at the start, but once I got going I started to feel more relaxed," Hornbeek said. "I think it was a good meet for us because you want to do well, but you don't really want to come out and hit everything in your first meet because then you have nowhere to go."
Hornbeek finished first in the bars, beam and floor exercise with scores of 9.85, 9.75 and 9.675, respectively, despite an ailing back which made her wince in pain after each event.
"Heidi has a chronic back problem and we just have to make sure we don't overdo it in practice," Gault said. "But she knows her limits and we just have to make sure we make a conscious effort to watch her."
Other key contributions were made by senior Jessica Marshall, who took first place in the vault with a score of 9.825, and freshman Maureen Kealey, who tied Hornbeek's mark of 9.85 on the bars for a share of first place. Senior Darci Wambsgans also finish ed second on the vault with a 9.725 and third on the floor with a 9.55.
But the unsung hero of the meet was senior Shane Allbritton, competing in the all-around due to some key injuries to junior Tenli Poggemeyer and freshman Kristin McDermott. Allbritton finished second with a score of 37.725.
"We had great efforts from some people to help fill in for some of our injuries," Poggemeyer said. "We just need to relax a little more. I think everyone was a little nervous because it was our first meet. But this year is going to be exciting. We're going to go far."
Said Gault, "I was a little afraid of what we would see in vaulting, but it was nice to see all of the determination and sore hands and muscles pay off. We were a little tight on the beam, but we'll be better there. We just have to quit holding back on be am. I would rather see a kid fall off going after something than just hold back."