Arizona Athletics

Editor’s note: The Star’s Zack Rosenblatt is counting down the 50 best athletes on the University of Arizona campus right now, with help from athletes, coaches and those close to the program.

No. 24: Madison Cindric

The details: Cindric, from Lantana, Texas, is Arizona’s sole all-around competitor entering her senior season. Before coming to Tucson, Cindric had been home-schooled since the fifth grade, eventually training and competing with a club team called Texas Dreams. In 2011, she was a level 10 Junior Olympic national qualifier and in 2012, she became the level 10 state champion of both beam and upper bars. In 2013, she was the level 10 regional beam champion and a Junior Olympic team member, and placed third in the all-around of the Junior Olympic Nationals competition. Cindric was recruited by other schools, but former longtime Arizona coach Bill Ryden convinced her to become a Wildcat. Tabitha Yim is entering her third season as Ryden’s replacement.

“I always wanted to compete in the Pac-12 and they were one of the first schools to recruit me,” Cindric told last season. “Once I met the team and saw the athletic program, I was hooked. Not to mention the campus is beautiful.”

The numbers: As a junior, Cindric missed a large chunk of Arizona’s season dealing with a broken toe suffered practicing for a meet against Iowa State, but she performed well when she returned at the end of the season. For three straight meets to end the year, Cindric managed a 9.85 score or higher on the balance beam. As a freshman and sophomore, she competed in all of Arizona’s 26 total meets.

Cindric’s career-highs include a 9.85 score on vault, 9.925 on uneven bars, 9.925 on balance beam and 9.85 on floor. She was named a Pac-12 freshman of the week in the last week of the season in 2015.

The value: Cindric’s stance as Arizona’s sole all-around competitor — meaning she competes in all four events: vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor — makes her particularly valuable for any success the Wildcats might have. When healthy, Cindric is particularly adept on the balance beam.

The Wildcats haven’t finished better than fifth place at the Pac-12 Championships since 2010, or in the Top-3 since 2005, and haven’t made it to the NCAA Championships since 2002. If the Wildcats are going to improve on last season’s seventh-place Pac-12 finish, Cindric will play a pivotal part of that.

Why Cindric? Yim has said she has high expectations for Cindric, and the flashes of talent she showed at the end of last season proved that, when healthy, she can be one of the better all-around competitors in a tough Pac-12 Conference. Arizona only had a 1-5 conference record last season, and Cindric’s absence due to injury certainly played a role in that.

Proof she’s good: Upon returning after a two-month absence, Cindric performed quite well at the end of the season, considering how long she was out of commission. In her first performance back on bars, she scored a 9.75 against BYU. More impressively, she set career-highs in both balance beam (9.925) and all-around score (39.325), the latter good for first place against the Cougars.

“It certainly is nice to have Madison Cindric back in the lineup as an all-rounder,” Yim told the Daily Wildcat after that meet. “She really shined tonight.”

What Cindric can accomplish: Arizona hasn’t had an all-around individual Pac-12 Champion since Heidi Hornbeek — arguably Arizona’s best gymnast ever — in 1996. Hornbeek also won on balance beam and floor in 1997. The expectations aren’t for Cindric to reach that level of success, but with full health, she should at least compete for a conference title and is a good candidate for All-Conference honors.

Coachspeak: “Maddy Cindric has been our sole all-around competitor for the past few seasons. She had a fluke injury at the beginning of 2017 that kept her out for two-thirds of the season, but we expect her to have a strong 2017-2018 year.” — Yim

She said it: “It felt amazing to finally get back out there and compete. This team has been fighting all season, so I just wanted to come back and help as much as I could. I knew I just had to go up there and do what I do. After I stuck my dismount, I couldn’t have been more excited. Getting a season high and tying my career high for my first time back out there was so special.” — Cindric to the Daily Wildcat last season or 573-4145. On Twitter: @ZackBlatt