Backups fill void for UA gymnastics

By Arlie Rahn

Arizona Daily Wildcat

All season long, the UA gymnastics team has been winning meets on the shoulders of junior Karen Tierney and freshman Tenli Poggemeyer. But when the Wildcats found out that Tierney was sidelined for the season with a knee injury, they knew things had to change.

In last weekend's 193.1 to 191.625 win over No. 19 Stanford, the ninth-ranked Wildcats utilized an asset they had been taking for granted all year: depth.

Instead of the big guns like Tierney and Poggemeyer, Arizona counted on gymnasts like Tracy Yerkes, Michaela Grigg and Jessica Marshall. Earlier this year, these performers were recording scores of 9.2 and 9.3, but in the last few meets they have raised their scores and levels of play.

"Without these kids filling out the lineup, there is no way we'd be where we are now," said UA coach Jim Gault. "You're not going to survive in this league with just two or three stars and no backup."

But the show was stolen by junior Darci Wambsgans, who won the all-around competition with a 38.750 by recording top scores in the vault (9.850), floor (9.750) and beam (9.650). Poggemeyer also continued her solid play by scoring a 9.825 on the bars and a 9.650 on the vault. But the real heroes were the backup players.

"When we lost Karen, everybody knew they had to pick up their play and work harder," Wambsgans said. "And this meet's win shows that we have accepted this challenge."

The charge was led by sophomore Cami Banholzer. She recorded a 9.7 on the floor and a 9.575 on the bars. Following her lead were Grigg, Marshall, Yerkes and junior Shane Allbritton. Grigg and Marshall solidified the vault by recording a 9.525 and 9.7, respectively, while Yerkes and Allbritton added depth in the bars with scores of 9.725 and 9.575. This production is something that Gault hopes will continue into their next few meets.

"All of our girls have to continue to go out and perform consistently," Gault said. "We think that we are as good as any team in the top 10, but we have to stay consistent."

Two other performers that are starting to regain their all-star status are senior co-captains Nicole Garrett and Jenna Karadbil. Garrett followed up her impressive performance in the Tucson Newspaper Invitational by scoring a 9.825 on the vault and a 9.625 on the beam. Karadbil won the only event she participated in, the beam, with a score of 9.775.

"I feel much more comfortable now," Karadbil said. "Also the fact that we have so much depth now makes it easier for someone like me to perform."

While Gault is happy with his newfound depth, there are still a few odds and ends to take care of.

"My major concern right now is to sure up some of our base requirement skills that we are losing tenths (of points) on," Gault said. "If we work on gaining some of these tenths back, we should be in good shape for the Pac-10 finals."

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