Rock solid

By Arlie Rahn

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Injuries have plagued the UA gymnastics team so far this season. It seems as soon as someone returns, another falls prey to this vicious disease. Yet through all of this confusion, one gymnast has emerged as the rock of this team. That person is junior Darci Wambsgans.

"It's funny because I never was very consistent in club and high school play. I could not hit," Wambsgans said. "But when I came here I did not get as stressed out as I did in club. Now, I am pretty laid back and I joke around more. Basically, I stopped putting so much pressure on myself."

Wambsgans has been consistently recording scores ranging in the high 38s in the all-around and is the team's best performer on the vault.

"Darci has a tremendous ability to get off the ground. She is extremely strong and quick," said UA coach Jim Gault. "While many people think that most gymnasts have that ability, that is not true. Not all gymnasts are blessed with that ability."

The highlight of her season was her performance in the Wildcats' first-place finish in the Tucson Newspaper Invitational. She notched a 38.925 in the all-around, which put her second behind teammate Tenli Poggemeyer, and her score of 9.875 in the floor exercise paced the UA.

"I feel that I can pretty much hit on vault and floor consistently," she said.

"We've gotten into a pattern of skills that she can handle, so we're not experimenting from meet to meet with her," Gault said. "Now that's not to say that she doesn't have any problems. Right now, there is a move on the bar that's giving her a little bit of trouble, but we have settled on her skills to do and she does them well."

But when she first came to the UA, she was facing quite an adjustment. Coming from Lee's Summit, Mo., she had to adapt to living three states away from home.

"I think the first semester was a period of adjustment for her," Gault said. "But really, being on a club team that had traveled around the country, I think that she was used to being fairly independent already."

So perhaps the biggest adjustment Wambsgans went through involved the different playing styles.

"I would have to say that the big difference was that I went from 'totally individual' in club to 'all for the team' in college," Wambsgans said. "I think that it was a positive adjustment and that having the team atmosphere helped me to ease into college competition."

And Wambsgans feels this team togetherness is the major strength that this year's squad possesses.

"It seems that in the last few years we've had problems with teams staying together. But this year is different," Wambsgans said. "We don't let outside problems come in and affect our play. We're a team this year."

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