UA’s Garrett hangs tough

By Arlie Rahn

Arizona Daily Wildcat

All or nothing. The idea of a performance where the entire routine is based on one highly skilled move is not one that most athletes have the courage to undertake. But UA gymnast Nicole Garrett has managed to stick to that philosophy through the good, the bad and the ugly.

“It has been tough, even ugly, at times, but I’m glad I didn’t give up,” said Garrett, who is a senior and co-captain of the team. “It’s really exciting to do something like that and hit, there’s nothing like it. You feel much better when you complete a routine that challenges you than if you just went up and did a watered-down routine.”

And even though earlier in the season it looked like her approach had backfired, she is now starting to reap the benefits.

“Having the stronger routines was something that Nicole really wanted from the beginning,” said UA coach Jim Gault. “At first she had some trouble and the coaching staff and I advised her to maybe try something different, but she kept with it and now she is going to the nationals. So I’d say it has paid off.”

Even though the 14th-ranked Wildcats barely missed the 12-team cut for the NCAA gymnastics championships, Garrett entered the ranks of the best in collegiate gymnastics when she recorded an all-around score of 38.775 in the regionals. This score was good enough to place her in the top 12 gymnasts in the country whose teams did not qualify for the championships. She will compete this afternoon in Athens, Ga.

“Being a senior this year, I think it’s great that I qualified for the nationals,” Garrett said. “It’s not quite as nice because the team isn’t going to be there, but because this is my last year I am honored.”

Earlier in the season, Garrett was not as consistent as she would have liked to be. She would always have one event that would give her trouble.

A prime example of this was her performance in the Tucson Newspaper Invitational. While she had a great meet in the vault (9.825), beam (9.775) and floor (9.725), she faltered on the bars (9.050).

“For most of the season, I haven’t been very consistent on bars,” Garrett said. “It took me a while to get back from my elbow injury, and my consistency suffered.”

But on her return, she helped pull together the team in a trying time during junior Karen Tierney’s knee injury. Garrett picked up the slack in the Tucson Invitational, coming in and recording a 38.375 in her first all-around performance since the injury.

But the highlight of her season came in Arizona’s meet against UCLA March 3. She recorded her career bests in the vault (9.9), beam (9.775), floor exercise (9.85) and all-around (39.175) in a losing cause, but she gave the Wildcats the lift they needed.

“I have been through a lot to get here,” Garrett said. “And the thing I am most proud of is that I persevered and never quit. I could have quit two years ago when I was going through some tough times and then said later that I could have been real good, but I’m glad I stuck with it.”

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