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Gymcats barely miss trip to nationals

DAVID HARDEN/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Junior Monica Bisordi finished fourth overall during Saturday night's NCAA regionals in McKale Center. Bisordi and Andi McCabe will advance to nationals while the Gymcats as a team fell one spot short of advancing.
By James Kelley
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, April 5, 2004
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Despite its highest NCAA score ever, the Arizona gymnastics team's season ended Saturday in heartbreaking fashion: one spot short of nationals.

The No. 18 Gymcats (13-10-2, 2-3-1 Pacific 10 Conference) finished third at the NCAA South Central Regional Championships, scoring 196.375 - their first 196 or better in a regional and the school-record 10th such score in a row. Arizona lost to No. 5 Utah (197.625) and No. 8 Florida (197.050) while beating No. 24 Arkansas (195.500), Illinois (195.400) and Illinois-Chicago (193.875).

"It's tough, but we made a few bobbles that we couldn't afford to do," said UA head coach Bill Ryden. "My hat's off to both Utah and Florida."

Because of the score, Ryden expected the Gymcats to move up to 13th or 14th in the rankings, which he pointed out was higher than some qualifying teams in other regions.

"We had a good year; I can't argue with that. The girls tried hard and didn't give up. It was unfortunate that we had a little bit of a rough meet," Ryden said. "It was a tough regional meet, very good competition. I'm very proud of my team. I couldn't be prouder; this is a very good team.

"I still believe this team is better than the 2003 edition. We just came up short."

Individually, senior Andi McCabe (floor) and junior Monica Bisordi (all-around) qualified for the NCAA championships. The top two teams in the six regional meets, plus the top two all-around scorers and individual event winners not on advancing teams, receive automatic bids.

"It was bittersweet for me tonight, but I'm really excited that I have Andi coming on to national championships with me, because last year it was difficult for me to go on," said Bisordi, who was the lone UA representative at last year's championships. "But I was thrilled and excited, just like I am now, to go on and represent the UA.

"I hope that me and Andi can go out and do just as good of a job as we did tonight, and maybe even better."

Bisordi will rotate with Iowa, and McCabe will perform with Oklahoma in the nationals meet, held April 15 at UCLA.

"I'm obviously happy, but at the same time, I'm sad," McCabe said. "I'm glad that Monica can also go with me. I know that the team's support is still behind us, but it is sad that they all can't be there. I wish that we could have ended it like that."

Bisordi got in by finishing fourth in the all-around with a mark of 39.450.

"They deserve it. They're great gymnasts and had great years. Monica's just one of the great all-arounders in the country," Ryden said. "Andi ... I'm so proud of her because she is doing the best she's ever done in her senior year. A lot of times, the gymnasts are so beat up, they can't do that. The fact that she can do that - I'm very proud of her."

Arizona finished tied for second on vault (49.325), fourth on bars (49.275), fourth on beam (48.750) and third on floor (49.025).

McCabe won the floor event with a 9.900, while junior Katie Johnson finished fourth with 9.850 - one-fourth of a point out of third.

"I was just talking to John Court, our assistant coach. He's like, 'I'm so proud of you for saving your best gymnastics for the last year,'" McCabe said, laughing. "I don't know how I did it, but that's how it turned out."

Johnson and sophomore Abby Pearson finished tied for eighth in vault with 9.875, just 0.25 behind five gymnasts tied for third. McCabe finished 0.050 points out of first.

"It is funny that she's going (to the championships) on floor," Ryden said. "She's probably a better vaulter than on the floor, (but) good for her."

"It was actually very surprising because vault had been my best event the last few years. But I just went out and did my best," McCabe said. "I'm happy. I wish the team could be there with me, but yeah, I was surprised."

Bisordi and junior Jamie Duce tied for ninth on bars, 0.25 behind the four that tied for fifth. On the beam, Bisordi (9.875) tied for fifth, 0.25 out of third.

"We tried hard tonight. We just came up a little bit short," Ryden said. "There are teams going to nationals from other parts of the country with lower scores than us. It is just the luck of the draw."

Bisordi was named to the All-Pac-10 team Friday in the all-around category. It's Bisordi's second appearance on the team. In her freshman year, she made it in the all-around and beam.

Arizona didn't have an all-conference selection last season.

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