No. 9 Women's Gymnastics Opens 2002 Season vs. Utah State, Friday At 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 7, 2002

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This Week --
Arizona State begins its 27th season of women's gymnastics Friday, January 11, vs. Utah State at 7:30 p.m. in Wells Fargo Arena. This is the second meet of the year for Utah State, which defeated Cal State Fullerton 192.750-191.375, January 4. Last season ASU went 10-5 during the regular season and 8-1 at home before placing ninth at the NCAA Championships. Utah State posted a 10-14 record and failed to qualify for nationals. ASU leads the all-time regular season series against the Aggies 9-3 and has won the last four meetings. Friday's meet will be the first of two regular season meetings between these teams. March 8, Utah State will host the Sun Devils at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in Logan, Utah.

Utah State (1-0) --
Ray Corn returns for his 25th season at Utah State, where he has accumulated an all-time record of 332-197-2. Last season the Aggies went 10-14 and placed first at the Big West Championships. This year they return 13 letterwinners, losing only three from the 2001 roster.

ASU In The Rankings --
Matching their NCAA Championships finish of 2001, Arizona State debuted at No. 9 in the GymInfo rankings, based on the preseason coaches poll released January 1. Two-time defending champion UCLA was selected to defend its crown with 912 overall votes and 29 first-place bids. ASU received 582 overall votes and is neighbored in the standings by No. 8 Stanford (647) and No. 10 Oregon State (510). Arizona (17th, 238) and Washington (19th, 231) rounded out the list of Pac-10 teams making the top-25. Beginning January 14, rankings will be updated on a weekly basis and will be based on one of the following criteria: highest score (Jan. 14, 21), season average (Jan. 28, Feb. 4, 11, 18), regional qualifying score (Feb. 28 thru season's end). For more information access www.gyminfo.com/troester.

2001 In Review --
The Sun Devils began the 2001 season picked 11th in the coaches poll. They finished the season by placing ninth at the NCAA Championships in Athens, Ga. In between, ASU ... posted six teams scores that ranked among ASU's all-time top-10, including a school record 197.450 ... established team event records on bars (49.425) and floor (49.625) ... handed No. 1 UCLA -- the defending and eventual national champion -- its only regular season loss of the year ... defeated Oregon State in Corvallis for the first time since 1983 ... extended its home winning streak to 25 meets, defeating 39 straight opponents, before Nebraska became the first team to defeat ASU in Tempe since February of 1996 ... went 10-5 in the regular season, placed fifth at the Pac-10 Championships and second at the NCAA Central Regional ... saw Laura Moon earn a pair of perfect 10.0 marks on the uneven bars, set a school record in the all-around (39.600) and earn second-team All-America honors (all-around) with Maggie Germaine (vault) at the NCAA Championships.

Up Next --
The Sun Devils travel to face No. 1 UCLA in Los Angeles, where they haven't won since 1986. Last season ASU handed the Bruins their only loss of the regular season by the score of 196.300-196.000 at Wells Fargo Arena. One of two Sunday competitions for ASU this season, the January 20 meet is scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m. PST.

All-American Laura Moon (senior) --
One of two returning All-Americans on ASU's 2002 roster, the Sun Devils were hoping that senior all-arounder Laura Moon could lead them throughout the season. Unfortunately, injury struck first. And while she will no doubt factor in ASU's postseason goals, Moon is not expected to return from preseason knee surgery until mid-February.Last year, her first as a Sun Devil after two team-MVP stints with the University of Maryland, Moon wasted no time working her way into the ASU record books. Against Auburn, in one of her 11 appearances in the all-around, Moon earned a school record total of 39.600. Helping her to that sum was Moon's second perfect 10.0 score on the uneven bars, causing her to join Danna Lister as the only Sun Devils ever to record a pair of perfect marks in the same season (Lister earned two 10.0s on beam in 1994).Moon also had season highs of 9.825 on vault, 9.925 on beam and 9.925 on floor. Out of a combined 49 routines, Moon scored 9.9 or better 11 times. At the NCAA Championships, Moon earned second-team All-America honors with her 17th-place finish in the all-around, scoring 39.100.

All-American Maggie Germaine (sophomore) --
Named the team's co-MVP with Laura Moon at the end of last season, Germaine became the first ASU freshman to earn All-America honors since Elizabeth Reid in 1997, picking up second-team honors on vault. The only Sun Devil to compete in the all-around at all 13 meets, Germaine hit an impressive 46-of-52 routines, including 41 of her last 44. Her season-best all-around total of 39.550, scored against Arizona, ties her with Amy Shelton (1997) for third all-time at ASU.Her event-by-event highs were 9.925 on vault, 9.9 on bars, 9.875 on beam and 9.925 on floor. Showing signs of improvment down the stretch, seven of Germaine's final 28 routines were scored at 9.9 or better.

Ashley Ellsberry (junior) --
Going into her junior season, Ashley Ellsberry may be on the verge of joining Moon and Germaine among the All-America ranks. Last season, Ellsberry appeared on beam and floor at all 13 meets. While those two events are likely to be her strength again this season, don't be surprised to see Ellsberry move into an all-arounder role. Ellsberry was beyond dependable for ASU in her sophomore season. After recording a pair of falls in the first meet, she went on to hit her next 24 straight, recording a 9.8 or better 17 times. Among those scores were a pair of career bests, going 9.95 on beam vs. Auburn, and twice recording 9.9s on floor, including the Pac-10 Championships.

Rhonda Robinette (senior) --
A team co-captain, Robinette will likely reassume her position in ASU's bars and beam lineups. Last season, Robinette appeared on beam in all 13 meets, and competed on bars seven times. One of her two season-high 9.8s on bars was turned in at the NCAA Central Regional. On beam, Robinette suffered only three falls, with the rest of her 10 routines all going for 9.8 or better. Among them was a 9.9 vs. Arizona and a career best 9.925 vs. Utah.

Cassidy Vreeke (junior) --
A regular on ASU's vault and beam lineup in 2001, by the end of the season, Vreeke had also developed into one of the team's best floor artists. On vault, Vreeke scored a 9.8 or higher four times, including a career-best 9.875. Hitting seven of her last 10 beam routines, Vreeke earned a season-best score of 9.85 three times, all in consecutive meets. On floor, Vreeke first improved her best from 9.85 to 9.925 vs. Auburn, only to improve yet again with a 9.95 at the Pac-10 Championships, the Sun Devils' top score of the meet for any discipline.

Margaret Wojciak (junior) --
Although she has competed in the all-around only once in her career, Wojciak's versatility will be a plus for the Sun Devils. In 2001, Wojciak made her most consistent contributions on bars, where she posted eight scores at 9.8 or better, including three career-best tying 9.9s. Wojciak came on strong late on beam, earning a pair of 9.8s at the low-scoring NCAA Central Regional and NCAA Championships (semifinals). Additionally, in limited action, Wojciak earned a season best of 9.75 on floor and 9.65 on vault.

New And Improved --
Two returning athletes hoping to make larger contributions than they did a season ago are sophomores Amber Giorgianni and Jada Cox. Last year, Giorgianni began her collegiate career in fine fashion, posting a high of 9.825 on vault and 9.875 on beam through the first eight meets of the season. However, in ASU's final warm-up on vault before its ninth meet of the year (vs. Auburn), Giorgianni suffered a torn ACL and was lost for the season. Still rehabilitating the injury, Giorgianni will be unable to compete in the season opener. Cox, a walkon, didn't compete until that ninth meet of the season, but filled in admirably down the stretch for ASU, completing three vaults for 9.7-or-better over ASU's final five meets.

The Transfers --
ASU welcomes two transfers to its roster this season, sophomore Carla DeMartini and senior Melissa Lewis. DeMartini spent her freshman season at Oklahoma, where she competed vault, bars and floor. She earned All-Big 12 honors on vault with a 9.85 showing at the conference championship meet, however DeMartini's season best in the event was a 9.95. Her best score on bars was a 9.925, while a 9.875 stands as her best mark on floor. Lewis comes to ASU after two seasons at Cal State Fullerton. Likely to appear in ASU's vault lineup this season, Lewis' made her biggest impact at Fullerton with a 9.875 beam, scored during the 2000 season.

The Freshmen --
Playing heavily in the Sun Devils' success this season will be a trio of freshmen in Trisha Dixon, Kari Muth and Nicole Gause. Dixon, of Fair Oaks, Calif., is the most powerful of the three athletes and could appear in the all-around this season. Muth is a local product out of Mesa High and Desert Lights Gymnastics club. She is likely to contribute in three events, but will play major roles in ASU's bars and floor lineups. Gause comes to the Valley of the Sun from College Station, Texas. While she also could develop into an all-arounder, look first to see her contribute on beam and floor.

The Departed --
Trying to keep tabs on the ASU roster? At the end of the 2001 season, the Sun Devils said goodbye to four seniors, Becky Acker, Kelly Cowley, Kristin Fanning and Kim Skinner. Her days of competition complete, Fanning has actually stayed with the team as an undergraduate assistant coach. Other Sun Devils not returning this season are Ashley Stewart, who suffered a torn ACL in the middle of her junior campaign, and walkon Shannon Geary.

The Streak --
For 25 straight regular season meets -- including four in 2001 -- no one could overcome ASU at Wells Fargo Arena. Not even No. 1 UCLA. In that span, the Sun Devils defeated 39 consecutive opponents dating back to 1996. However, in the 2001 season finale, ASU beat Iowa and Kentucky, but could not top No. 7 Nebraska, which shot to No. 4 in the rankings after turning back ASU for only the third time in the last 44 meets at Wells Fargo Arena. The dates of ASU's last four home losses are as follows: Nebraska (3/16/01), Utah (2/2/96), Utah (2/11/94), Oregon State (2/7/92).

The Fans --
While ASU's attendance report may not have rivaled Georgia's (last season's national leader in average attendance), the 2001 Sun Devils drew some of their largest crowds in recent history. Highlighted by a turnout of 2,108 that saw the Sun Devils upset No. 1 UCLA, ASU drew a total of 6,671 fans to Wells Fargo Arena for an average of 1,334 per meet. That was good enough for ASU to finish 16th in the national attendance rankings, its highest finish since GymInfo began tabulating national figures in 1998.

Slow Starting Sun Devils? --
For all the times ASU has saved its best for last, perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that the Sun Devils don't have a reputation for flashy debuts. In fact, six of the last eight seasons have begun with ASU earning what would be its lowest team total of the year (exceptions: 1999, 2000). Last season, ASU opened the year with a 191.525 showing at the Maui Invitational, suffering losses to UCLA and Nebraska. After that, the Sun Devils responded to score six totals that ranked among the top-10 in school history, including a record 197.450 vs. Arizona. However, for this season's debut, Utah State should beware of ASU's all-time home record of 175-29-1 (.856).

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