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No. 13 Gymcats look for luck

File Photo/Arizona Daily Wildcat
The Gymcats lost six seniors to graduation from the 2005 squad that placed second at the Pac-10 Championships in March. The 2006 team is led by team captain Erin Muirhead, a 5-foot-4 senior.
By Dmitry Rashnitsov
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, January 13, 2006
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Gymnastics faces Alabama, Penn State in dual meet

After balancing out a fifth-place finish in Cancun last week, the Arizona gymnastics team vaulted up four places in the rankings to lucky No. 13.

The ladies hope to continue to move up as they take on No. 5 Alabama and Penn State at 5 p.m. tomorrow in State College, Penn.

Led by senior captain Erin Muirhead, the Gymcats hope to continuously get better as the season progresses.

"My goals for this weekend are to improve on my routines from the meet in Cancun and to go out and just have fun," Muirhead said.

Sophomore Karin Wurm is not too worried about Alabama's higher ranking.

"Going against a team who is ranked higher than us just makes me more fired up to go out there and beat them," Wurm said.

Gymcats head coach Bill Ryden said he sees this meet as a good opportunity for the team to showcase itself for the country.

"We want to represent ourselves and represent our university," Ryden said.

The coach would like to see his team have a clean meet with no falls, which will happen if all 24 routines are performed just like they were practiced.

"If we compete the way we train, there is no team in the country that can stop us," Wurm said.

Ryden said he would like to see an improvement in the vault and beam performances from last weekend.

"Our weakest event depth-wise is the vault," Ryden said.

Sophomores Rachelle Silberg and Danielle Hicks and freshman Alexis Greene will be leading the team in that event. All three scored 9.700 on the vault in Cancun.

On the uneven parallel bars, the team will showcase junior Aubrey Taylor who finished in fourth place at the last meet. The uneven parallel bars also brought out the team's best overall score of 48.750

In the floor exercise, Wurm and Taylor will try to improve on their scores of 9.800 from last week.

"My goals are to hit our routines 24 for 24 on all our events as well as we train them in the gym," Wurm said.

Muirhead, who finished with the best score on the balance beam with a 9.600 in Cancun, said she hopes to be a "major contributor to the beam and floor lineups for her team this season.

This weekend she will compete in the all-around event for only the second time in her collegiate career.

Although Ryden said he expects success every time the girls take the floor, he also said he focuses on the big picture.

"We are looking to compete well in April," he said. "We are looking ahead as opposed to the short term."

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