No. 8 Women's Gymnastics Hosts No. 7 Nebraska, No. 12 Iowa and Kentucky

March 14, 2001

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This Week --
Coming of its 25th-consecutive home meet victory last week vs. Auburn, No. 8 ASU will be challenged by No. 7 Nebraska, No. 12 Iowa and unranked Kentucky, Friday, March 16 at 7:00 p.m. in Wells Fargo Arena. Marking the last regular season meet of their careers, ASU will honor four seniors: Becky Acker, Kelly Cowley, Kristin Fanning and Kim Skinner.

ASU In The Rankings --
ASU's victorious 196.15 total vs. Auburn improved its Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) from 196.375 last week to 196.490 this week, yet ASU still dropped a spot in the team rankings to No. 8. In the event-by-event breakdown, ASU is now 10th on vault (48.975 RQS/48.661 avg.), 13th on bars (49.15/49.042), fifth on beam (49.12/48.858) and fifth on floor (49.365/49.078).

Recent Results --
Having lost two key athletes to knee injuries that week, including one just minutes before opening the meet on vault, the seventh-ranked Sun Devils battled emotions to post the ninth-best score in ASU history, topping Auburn 196.15-194.25. Junior Laura Moon offered another fantastic all-around performance with an ASU-record total of 39.6. Moon also recorded the second perfect 10.0 of her career, the 15th in ASU history. Maggie Germaine was also impressive, logging her second consecutive 9.9 on vault and third consecutive 9.925 on floor en route to a 39.3 all-around total. Ashley Ellsberry (9.95 beam) and Cassidy Vreeke (9.925 floor) posted career-high marks.

Nebraska (12-1) --
Ranked seventh overall (196.585 RQS/196.309 avg.), Nebraska is eighth (tied) on vault (49.02/48.975), fourth on bars (49.35/49.281), 10th on beam (48.94/48.734) and seventh on floor (49.335/49.319). Leading the way for the Huskers is freshman Alecia Ingram, ranked seventh on vault (9.895/9.891), 11th-t on beam (9.885/9.731) and 20th in the all-around (39.23/39.296). Sophomore Julie Houk also cracks the top-25 lists, tied for ninth on bars (9.920/9.837). The Huskers are just 4-12 vs. ASU all-time, but have won the last two meetings, including a 194.95-191.95 decision at this year's Maui Invitational. Nebraska is coached by Dan Kendig, in his eighth season.

Iowa (11-3) --
Ranked 12th overall (195.83 RQS/195.039 avg.), Iowa is 23rd on vault (48.75/48.628), 15th on bars (49.135/48.917), 15th on beam (48.86/48.483) and 17th on floor (49.16/49.011). Individually, the Hawkeyes are powered by the one-two punch of freshman all-arounders Alexis Maday (39.355/39.231) and Stephanie Gran (39.225/39.050), ranked sixth and 21st, respectively. Maday's top event is floor, where she's tied for 11th nationally (9.915/9.825). Iowa's other individual to make the rankings is sophomore Janna Alexandrova, 17th on beam (9.875/9.75). In the their only meeting with ASU, the Hawkeyes (184.975) finished fourth behind ASU (191.0), Nebraska and Oklahoma at the 1998 Maui Invitational. Iowa is coached by Mike Lorenzen, in his second season.

Kentucky (2-6) --
Cracking the national rankings only on vault, where the Wildcats are tied for 21st (48.765 RQS/48.758 avg.), Kentucky owns the nation's 28th-best RQS of 194.725 (194.419 avg.). Headlining the Wildcats' roster is Mindy Smith, who has earned a 9.925 on beam and a 9.9 on floor. Melanie Zaharias also has a season-high 9.925 on beam. This is the Wildcats' first meeting with ASU. Kentucky is coached by Leah Little, in her 26th season.

Moon Rising --
After two MVP seasons at Maryland, Scottsdale native Laura Moon is back in the Valley and back being a team leader. One of four Sun Devils to appear in the national top-25 rankings, Moon is No 4 on bars (9.95 RQS/9.914 avg.), No. 18 on beam (9.87/9.856) and No. 14 in the all-around (39.285/39.268). She is also one of nine Sun Devils ever to record a perfect-10. Moon earned the first 10.0 of her career on bars at the UNO's Classic (Feb. 23), launching her to a Pac-10 Gymnast Of The Week award for Feb. 21-26. Two weeks later vs. Auburn, Moon earned her second perfect score on bars en route to a second Pac-10 Gymnast Of The Week honor. Also tallying a personal-season-high 9.825 on vault, a career-best-tying 9.925 beam, plus a 9.85 on floor, Moon accumulated an all-around total of 39.6 against the Tigers, breaking Meagan Wright's 1997 school-record mark of 39.575.

Talking 10s --
What's the significance of Moon's perfect-10 parade? Consider the following: The ninth Sun Devil to achieve the feat, Moon is responsible for the 14th and 15th 10.0 scores in ASU history. ... She has two of ASU's three such marks on bars ... ASU's only other 10.0 on bars was logged by Jenny Ester in 1993. ... While Tina Brinkman (floor `92, vault `94) and Carie Courtney (vault `97, `98) each achieved two perfect scores in their ASU careers, Moon and Danna Lister are the only Sun Devils to record perfect scores twice in one season. Lister, ASU's all-time 10.0-scoring leader, achieved perfection on beam four times from 1993-95, including two times in 1994. ... Elizabeth McNabb's 10.0 on floor in 1999 is ASU's only other perfect score over the past three seasons.

Fab Frosh --
She may be a freshman, but Maggie Germaine has been providing ASU with veteran leadership all season. The only Sun Devil to compete in the all-around at all nine meets, Germaine has hit 32-of-36 routines, including her last 27-of-28. After debuting in the national rankings at No. 24 two weeks ago (Feb. 26), Germaine is up to No. 11 this week (39.310 RQS, 39.050 avg.). Germaine's season-best all-around total of 39.55 came against Arizona (3/2), when she posted a team season-best 9.9 vault, a 9.85 on bars, a personal-best 9.875 on beam and a personal-best-tying 9.925 on floor. ... Although she turned in 24 routines without scoring a 9.9 or better to start the season, Germaine has reached or crossed the 9.9 plateau in six of her last 12 routines. The team leader on vault, Germaine is coming off consecutive 9.9s in that event, while stringing together a trio of 9.925s on floor.

Dynamic Duo --
Both newcomers to ASU, freshman Maggie Germaine and junior-transfer Laura Moon combine to make one of the nation's most potent one-two punches in the all-around. Ranked (by RQS) at No. 11 and No. 14, respectively, only Iowa State has a pair of athletes ranked higher than Germaine and Moon (No. 9 Sissy Huey and No. 13 Shelly Kringen). Another terrific twosome hails from one of ASU's opponents this week, Iowa's Alexis Maday (39.355) and Stephanie Gran (39.225), are ranked No. 6 and No. 21, respectively.

Captain Cowley --
Kelly Cowley, a team co-captain and ASU's only returning All-American, has been the model of consistency for the Sun Devils. Competing in every event except beam at all nine meets, Cowley's scores have counted toward the team total all but twice. All totaled, she has hit 26-of-27 routines this season and has scored a 9.8 or above in 16 of her last 21. Against Utah, Cowley had her best meet of the year with a personal season-best effort on vault of 9.875, a career-best tying 9.925 on bars and a 9.9 on floor. Against Arizona, Cowley upped her career-best on floor to 9.975, leading ASU to a school-record 49.625. After recording a 9.9 vs. Auburn, Cowley has turned in six straight scores of 9.9 or better on floor. Improving her RQS in that event to a 9.9 (9.822 avg.), Cowley is in a nine-way tie for 22nd on the national list.

Essentially Ellsberry --
Sophomore Ashley Ellsberry may have started the season cold, but she's been hot ever since. A beam and floor specialist, Ellsberry missed on both routines at the Maui Invitational, but has hit 16-of-16 since. Entering the season with a career best 9.9 on beam and 9.75 on floor, Ellsberry has improved both marks considerably this season. Her first breakthrough on beam came at the UNO's Classic, when she turned in a 9.925. However, last week against Auburn, Ellsberry earned an ASU season-best 9.95. On floor, Ellsberry has scored above her previous personal best seven times, including a 9.9 vs. Arizona.

Fantastic Fanning --
One of four seniors on the squad, Kristin Fanning has been a rock of stability for ASU this season. Although her 9.8 on bars vs. Arizona is her season-best on that apparatus (career high 9.9), Fanning has been fabulous on floor. Performing at all nine meets, Fanning has a team-high 9.872 average in the exercise, highlighted by a 9.95 total at Arizona. Ever-dependable, Fanning's worst floor score of the season was a 9.8 in the season's second week.

Radically Robinette --
While she has also worked bars in five meets (season-high of 9.8), Rhonda Robinette has been a force on beam her junior year. Currently in a four-way tie for 21st in the event (9.865 RQS, 9.736 avg.), Robinette's top beam scores of the season include a 9.9 vs. Arizona and a career-best 9.925 vs. Stanford. Minus a pair of falls, Robinette's lowest score of the year was a 9.8 vs. Washington.

Suddenly Skinner --
Through nine meets, senior Kim Skinner has been a regular in ASU's bars rotation, competing all but twice on the apparatus. However, after Ashley Stewart and Amber Giorgianni went down four days apart with knee injuries, Skinner is sure to find herself thrust into the vault lineup. Going into the Auburn meet, Skinner's only vault of the year had been a 9.025 effort in the season opener (9.8 career best). Yet after watching Giorgianni go down in the final warm-up March 9, Skinner stepped in with a 9.775 that counted toward the Sun Devils' team total of 49.075 -- ASU's second-best vault score of the season. Skinner will still be counted on for her dependability on bars. Although yet to near her career-high of 9.9, this season she has a pair of 9.75s and a pair of 9.8s.

Valuable Vreeke --
After a disastrous start, Cassidy Vreeke has been rebounding toward a fine finish to her sophomore season. Through the first four meets, Vreeke competed once on floor, three times on vault and four times on beam, yet scored a 9.6 or better in only three of the eight routines. Since then however, Vreeke has scored 9.8 or better in nine of 13 routines. Included in that stretch was a career-high 9.825 on vault, three 9.85s on beam and a career-best 9.925 on floor.

Wojciak Attack --
Sophomore Margaret Wojciak has already increased her contribution since her freshman season. Against Oregon State, Wojciak made her collegiate all-around debut and finished with a 38.475, higher than any ASU all-around performance in 2000. Competing in no more than two events per meet since, Wojciak has matched her career-high on bars twice, 9.9s vs. Stanford and Arizona.

Instant Injuries --
What had been a relatively injury-free season was redefined last week as ASU prepared for its dual vs. Auburn. First, in a March 6 practice, junior Ashley Stewart suffered a torn ACL and was lost for the season. Three days later, in ASU's final warm-up on vault, freshman Amber Giorgianni went down with an injured knee. While Giorgianni had also been a regular on beam (9.875 season-high), the Sun Devils' experience their greatest loss on vault, where Giorgianni had appeared in seven-of-eight meets and Stewart had competed in eight-of-eight. Combined, Giorgianni and Stewart had produced five scores at 9.8 or better, including personal highs of 9.825 and 9.85, respectively.

Tale Of Two Extremes --
Nearing the post-season, 2001 has truly seen some of the best and worst times for ASU gymnastics. At the season opening Maui Invitational, the Sun Devils stumbled to a team total of 191.525, its third-worst score since 1997. Considering that 10 of the last 15 season openers had seen ASU put up its lowest total of the year, there was reason to think that ASU would improve, but this much? In the eight meets since, the Sun Devils have put up six totals that rank among ASU's all-time top-ten: a school-record 197.45 vs. Arizona, a previous record-tying 197.125 at the UNO's Classic (now 2nd), a fifth-best 196.725 vs. Stanford, a seventh-best 196.35 that upset No. 1 UCLA, a ninth-best 196.15 vs. Auburn and a 10th-best 196.1 vs. Utah. Before the season, ASU had only seven scores of 196.0 or above.

The Streak --
If it appears as if ASU's home winning streak grew in the off-season, it did. Contrary to many early reports (after the 2000 season, ASU was listed as having won 20 straight at home against 29 opponents), further statistical review shows that the Sun Devils have won their last 25 home meets, defeating 39 opponents -- including four meets against six opponents in 2001. The last team to defeat ASU in Tempe was Utah, which bested the Sun Devils 193.875-193.25, Feb. 2, 1996. That loss was ASU's first in its last eight home meets, and its first since Utah snapped a nine-meet home wining streak, Feb. 11, 1994. Thus, ASU has won 40 of its last 42 home meets, defeating 61 opponents. The last team to beat the Sun Devils at home other than Utah was Oregon State (192.7-192.55) Feb. 7, 1992.

The Fans --
If you win, they will come. While ASU's attendance report might not rival Utah's (annually the nation's leader), this year the Sun Devils have seen some of their biggest crowds in recent history. Drawing 2,108 vs. UCLA, 1,508 for the UNO's Classic and 1,108 vs. Washington, ASU has welcomed its first, third and tenth biggest regular-season crowds in six years. In fact, through four meets in 2001 (5,631), ASU outdrew 2000's four-meet attendance (3,517) by 2,114.

Up Next --
With the regular season complete, ASU will move into the post-season starting with the Pac-10 Conference Championships, Saturday, March 24 in Seattle, Wash.

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