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Gymcats senior set for final NCAA clash

It’s a sport that gets little attention, takes rare skill and is always dangerous. And after working practically since the cradle, Alexis Greene said, “your body is falling apart.”

But gymnastics is worth the trouble, the Arizona senior said.

Greene’s career and the Wildcats’ season will end with the 23rd straight school appearance in the NCAA Championships. The Gymcats will compete Saturday in the Fayetteville (Ark.) Regional.

Arizona had four straight heartbreaking losses to begin the season but posted a 7-5 dual-meet record.

“It took us a few meets to get our heads on the right way,” Greene said.

She came to Arizona as a Maryland four-event junior champion four years ago and immediately discovered something wonderful and new about the sport: She was no longer alone.

“You find out what really matters is the team,” she said. “If you do well, the team does. If you mess up, it affects everybody. Team makes you mentally tougher.”

Except for missing her junior year with a heel injury, Greene has been a consistent all-around performer. This season, she owns the team-best score in the parallel bars (9.900) and in her career has 9.875 scores in the vault and beam.

Maybe more important, she has been named a two-time UA Academic Champion, Academic All-American in 2007 and first-team Pac-10 Academic All-Conference member this year.

She will leave UA with a degree in psychology and a career goal of forensic psychology. She claims to have a little practical knowledge: 13 teammates who “I like to analyze,” she joked.

“I can’t say I stay up all night and study, but I get my work done,” she said of academics, vital among coach Bill Ryden’s standards. The real glow to his program is scholarship, community service and a strong graduation rate.

“A gymnast here pursues excellence,” Greene said. “That’s what it’s about.”

Arizona must shake off a disappointing fifth-place finish at the Pac-10 meet two weeks ago.

“Who knows?” Greene asked. “Maybe those 10s will come for us yet. We keep trying.”

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