done a little better in our execution."
After the disappointing start, the Wildcats were focused on giving a strong effort in the vault. After four solid vaults, including junior Jessica Marshall's career-high 9.85, Nicole Garrett and Wambsgans were poised to finish strong. Garrett set the stage with a fifth-place score of 9.875, but the show belonged to Wambsgans. After a solid first vault, she went for the whole ball of wax in her second. The result was a career and conference high of 9.950.
"It felt good, I've been waiting for that," Wambsgans said. "Usually when I hit a good first vault I relax for the second. But all year I've had trouble with my landing on that vault, so it felt good to finally hit it."
For the team, its score of 49.075 was the second highest in school history.
So going into the bars with a full head of steam from the vault, Arizona was ready to, like the phoenix itself, rise from its own ashes and contend for the championship.
Leading into Bowers' performance, UA received solid efforts from four of five gymnasts, with scores ranging from 9.625 to 9.85. Redshirt freshman Tenli Poggemeyer placed fifth with her 9.85 mark.
"We came in here lukewarm on the floor, sky-high on the vault, and solid on the bars," Gault said. "So we all had our fingers crossed going into the beam."
After two performances, however, the Wildcats' chances of a second-place finish looked dismal. Wambsgans (8.5) and Banholzer (9.0) followed up strong performances in other events with falls on the beam. Also, while this was going on, the first two Oregon State performers had just recorded a 9.675 and a 9.65 Ä and they still had its two top performers waiting in the wings.
But Arizona sucked it up and had four other performances above 9.475, the highlights coming from Poggemeyer Ä whose 9.775 was good enough for fifth overall Ä and Jenna Karadbil (9.7). Karadbil's performance was better than her score showed, and the UA coaching staff felt it deserved better.
"After two not-so-good performances, the girls pulled through real well. We only had to count one fall," Gault said. "But we were a little surprised with Jenna's score. It was disturbing. I mean, look at that routine. I didn't see anything that deserved that many points off."
But overall, the third-
place finish pleased the Wildcats.
"I think we did a great job under the circumstances," said Poggemeyer, who finished sixth in the all-around with a 38.975.
Said Gault: "This meet was a really good team effort, but now we have a clean slate. So we have to be prepared to go in and hit at regionals to qualify for nationals. If we don't hit, then we don't deserve to go."
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