Gymnastics finishes fifth at regional meet

By Arlie Rahn

Arizona Daily Wildcat

All season long, players work toward one day. That's right, just one day. Forget the countless hours in the gym, or the seemingly endless sessions of looking at videotape, if a team doesn't win that first-round game or the bowl game on New Year's Day, its season is labeled as a failure.

The UA gymnastics team finished Saturday night's regional meet with low esteem and disappointments. This was the same team that in the last two months has had a perfect-10 performance from Becky Bowers, a great team effort in capturing the Tucson Invitational without its No. 1 performer, and a score of 194 or better three times. And yet it walked off the floor in Lincoln, Neb., with a fifth-place finish (out of seven teams) in the meet that counted.

"It's a shame we had to end the season this way," UA coach Jim Gault said. "But if we don't do the job when it counts, you're not going to go very far."

It was even more heartbreaking because Gault had seen his gymnasts give some of their best performances earlier that week.

"It's frustrating because I know they can do better," Gault said. "In Thursday's practice, the girls gave World Championship routines."

But the only championship routines Saturday night were performed by Utah's gymnasts the Utes finished with a score of 196.625, automatically qualifying them for the NCAA national finals. Following Utah was host Nebraska (194.725), Brigham Young (194.05), Arizona State (193.25), and Arizona, which recorded a 192.875.

The Wildcats started on the beam, which has been their nemesis in the last few meets. And while Gault did not think the fact that his team had to compete in this event first was a deciding factor, the UA still was unable to gain much mo-

mentum going into the floor exercise.

"We had three falls on the beam and they hurt us," Gault said. "And it was a shame because two of the girls that stayed on had great routines."

One of those routines was given by star performer Tenli Poggemeyer, whose 9.95 effort set a new Arizona record. After Poggemeyer, the only above-average performance came from the least likely of the six, freshman Nancy Milberger. As a last-minute insert with only four performances under her belt, Milberger recorded a career-high 9.875.

It was then that tragedy struck. While making a courageous performance after not practicing for over a week, senior Jenna Karadbil had to be disqualified when she re-injured her back in the middle of her floor routine. Even though junior Darci Wambsgans scored a 9.775, the damage had been done.

By the time they got to the vault, the Wildcats had little chance of winning. But they didn't die. In fact, the UA gave its best performance of the night, highlighted by Nicole Garrett's 9.875.

Arizona then hoped to build on its vault routine, but it was not to be. Aside from Bowers' 9.875, there was not much success. A Poggemeyer fall and a bad score from junior Shane Allbritton took the final breath of wind from the team's sails.

"Becky did another fantastic job on the bars, but things just didn't go our way," Gault said. "I mean, who would have thought that Tenli would fall on the bars?"

Now, barring a miracle, the team's season is over. But it is a far cry from a failure.

"I think it would have taken a third-place finish for us to move on," Gault said. "But I still think that we had a successful season, even with tonight's performance."

Two UA gymnasts were selected to the All-Pacific 10 Conference team.

Redshirt freshman Tenli Poggemeyer was selected in the all-around.

Sophomore Becky Bowers was named to the team for the uneven bars.

UCLA dominated the honors with 10 of the 18 selections. The Bruins' Stella Umeh was selected for four events.

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