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Four seniors compete in final meet at McKale

Citizen Staff Writer



So many coincidences in life and many of them have a sense of humor.

Why else would the sunshine coming from Briana Bergeson almost from birth earn her the name “Beamer.”

It’s not because she’s on the beam as a University of Arizona gymnast, although people naturally assume so.

Her father, Brian, would take her by the hand and show her smiling face to the world, always beaming.

“I was 2 years old,” she said. “I didn’t even start on a beam in gymnastics until 6. But people assume . . . ”

“It would actually be pretty cheesy if that were the case,” said UA coach Bill Ryden, who still doesn’t deny how appropriate the name is.

Friday night, Bergeson and fellow seniors Erica Anderson, Alexis Greene and Bree Workman, will compete in the Gymcats’ last home meet of the season at 7 at McKale Center against Denver.

Bergeson speaks for all when she says each move – she will compete in three events, including the beam – is a frenzied, graceful maximum effort.

“I go out every time expecting to get a 10,” said Bergeson, who grew up in Gilbert and attended Mesquite High School. “It’s all bittersweet, all about presence. No matter what, you have to look like it’s a 10 when you’re done.”

She hasn’t achieved a perfect mark in four years, but how many in the rigorous sport have? Her best was a 9.95 on the beam at Berkeley, Calif., last winter.

Bergesen was taken off the bars by Ryden for three weeks after three consecutive-meet falls, then he played the master psychologist by putting her on versus archrival Arizona State.

She beat the bars’ whammy with a 9.75, got a typical 9.9 on the beam, then she and Workman scored 9.85 on their floor routines to nip ASU by .50 of a point.

Arizona is ranked 16th in the nation with a 5-5 record going into Friday night with five freshmen having overachieved to send Ryden’s program back into the elite.

Bergesen has helped to keep the link strong.

“It’s amazing how she has developed as a person,” Ryden says. “She competed in every meet, was never injured (as far as one could see). She has meant a lot to this program.”

Gymnastics has been life for Bergeson since age 6. She has practiced six to seven days a week for hours.

“I wanted to make nationals,” she said. “You get so close and it’s heartbreaking. It really is. But you’re OK with it later.

“It’s all worth it when at your best you hear that ‘Wow.’ “

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