Hornbeek heads to NCAAs
Ian C. Mayer
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Junior gymnast Heidi Hornbeek vaults during a dual meet vs. Stanford at McKale Center earlier this season. Hornbeek will compete in the NCAA Championships this afternoon at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City.
Arizona junior Heidi Hornbeek will continue her season without her team at the NCAA Championships as the No. 1 at-large in the all-around this afternoon at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City.
Though she will be the lone Wildcat gymnast as her team did not qualify, Hornbeek will have some company from the Pacific 10 Conference. No. 9-ranked Arizona State and Pac-10 champion UCLA will be taking part as well.
"Obviously the best gymnasts in the country will be present," UA head coach Bill Ryden said. "But she is among the best."
Although there will be many tough competitors, Ryden said he feels Hornbeek is ready.
"I don't anticipate any problem with her," he said. "She is prepared and ready to go."
Hornbeek said she has been training hard for this meet and is looking forward to the opportunity to face the best competition she has faced all year.
"I am excited to see all of the top teams compete," she said.
However, Hornbeek also said that being the only Wildcat gymnast will be difficult.
"It'll be harder because I don't have the support of the team," she said.
Hornbeek does face a strenuous task, but she will not be intimidated by her surroundings. She qualified for the NCAA Championships her freshman year, garnering a perfect 10 score on the floor exercise and was subsequently named to the All-America team. Her floor score was the highest in Arizona history.
Hornbeek will try to provide positive closure to what has been an up and down season for Arizona.
"We had a very rough start at the beginning of the year," she said. "It will help us next year because we now know what to do and next year it will be full speed ahead."
Derek Larson can be reached at Derek.Larson@wildcat.arizona.edu