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Gymcats finish second at Pac-10 championships

Photo courtesy Arizona Media Relations

2002 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year

By Brett Fera
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday Mar. 25, 2002

Ryden named conference Coach of Year; Johnson named best conference freshman

After celebrating one of the most successful weekends in the history of the program, the Arizona gymnastics team is peaking at the right time.

With the NCAA regional and national competitions just days away, the No. 12 Gymcats finished second at the Pacific 10 Conference championships on Saturday, setting multiple school records in the process.

Not only was the day a success for the program on the mat, but in conference news as well.

Arizona head coach Bill Ryden was named the Pac-10 Conference Coach of the Year, while Arizona's Katie Johnson, a native of Moorhead, Minn., also took home honors as the co-Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, sharing the award with Stanford's Mandy Delgado.

After his team posted a 9-22 record in 2001, Ryden, in his fourth year at Arizona, led the Wildcats to a 15-7 regular season record and a 9-4 mark in Pac-10 conference action. Ryden joins former UA coach Jim Gault as the only two Wildcat coaches to take home the honor.

Photo courtesy Arizona Media Relations

2002 Pac-10 Coach of the Year

"I'm excited about what it means to the program," said Ryden in regards to the award. "It is a reflection of the athletes and the staff we have here. We have come together to improve this program and put it on another level - that is what this award says."

Johnson finished out the regular season 10th in the Pac-10 on the beam and 12th on the vault, in addition to being ranked No. 5 nationally on the floor (third in Pac-10). Johnson also took home Pac-10 gymnast of the week honors for her performance against No. 1 UCLA on Jan. 25.

The Wildcats put together their most complete meet of the season on Saturday in Stanford, Calif., with a team score of 197.050, the highest mark in school history.

"The meet was just fantastic. It was the first time all season we have been able to completely put it all together," Ryden said. "We showed that we can compete with the best, since the Pac-10 is the toughest conference there is."

Top-ranked UCLA won its 10th conference championship with a score of 197.625, while Arizona equaled its best finish in the event finishing No. 2. The No. 10 ranked Stanford Cardinal followed in third place, with No. 14 Oregon State, Washington, No. 16 Arizona State and California rounding out the field.

Arizona won the team vault title with a new team record of 49.550, while finishing third on the bars, second on the beam and third on the floor.

UA senior Randi Liljenquist tied for first individually on the floor, scoring a 9.950 in the event. Liljenquist also tied for third on the vault with sophomore Andi McCabe (9.925) and fourth in the all-around (39.400).

Freshman Stevie Fanning posted a career-high score of 9.900 on the beam, tying her for first in her only event of the championships.

Freshman Monica Bisordi placed third in the all-around (39.425), while Johnson tied for third on floor with a score of 9.925.

Bisordi said she sees this weekend as a great motivator for the upcoming NCAA competitions.

"As a team we always try to have fun and hit on all of our routines," Bisordi said. "We just need to do what we have been doing all season long to keep up our success in the postseason."

The Gymcats currently await the announcement of their seeding and opponent for the NCAA regional competition on April 6. The team looks to earn its 16th consecutive postseason berth when the seeds are announced today.


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