No. 16 Women's Gymnastics Bound For Nebraska, Masters Classic

Feb. 18, 2002

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This Week --
The 16th-ranked Sun Devils are headed to Lincoln, Neb., to face some of their toughest competition this season in the four-team Masters Classic, Saturday, February 23, at 8:00 p.m. CST. In addition to meet host No. 4 Nebraska, No. 25 West Virginia and preseason-No. 18 Ohio State will be contending for meet crowns.

Nebraska (6-2) --
The Huskers are coming off a season-high score of 196.875, which earned them first-place honors at the Hearts Invitational. Nebraska returned nine letterwinners from the team that placed fifth at the 2001 NCAA Championships, including five All-Americans. They are coached by Dan Kendig, in his ninth season. Including the post-season, ASU has fallen to Nebraska in their last four meetings. Three of those losses were last year, including Nebraska's 197.100-195.575 decision that snapped ASU's home meet winning streak in March. Still, ASU leads the all-time regular season series 14-5.

Ohio State (2-9) --
Defeating Kent State (194.350) but losing to Bowling Green (195.125), Ohio State scored a 194.450 last week to move to 2-9 on the season. Coached by Arizona State graduate Larry Cox, in his 23rd season, OSU returned 10 letterwinners from the 2001 team that went 13-3. Although the Sun Devils have never lost to Ohio State in post-season competition, they lead the all-time regular season series only 7-5.

West Virginia (10-3) --
Into the rankings at No. 25, West Virginia managed the 10th-best score in school history in its narrow 196.100-195.975 loss to Michigan last week. The Mountaineers went 21-3 last year and placed first in the EAGL conference championships. Coached by Linda Burdett in her 27th year in Morgantown, the Mountaineers returned 12 letterwinners from last year's squad. ASU and West Viriginia have only met twice in regular season action, with ASU winning the 1998 meeting and WVU triumphing in 2000.

ASU In The Rankings --
For the second straight week, ASU is ranked 16th, based on their season average of 194.425. In the event-by-event rankings, ASU is 20th on vault (48.583 avg.), 13th on bars (tied, 48.837), unranked on beam and 19th on floor (48.904). In the preseason coaches poll ASU was ninth, just behind Stanford (8th) and just ahead of Oregon State (10th). Throughout the season, GymInfo rankings are based on one of the following: high score (Jan. 14, 21), average score (Jan. 28, Feb. 4, 11, 18), regional qualifying score (Feb. 28 thru season's end). Current rankings are available on Page 2 of this release. For more info access www.gyminfo.com/troester.

Recent Results --
While Washington posted its fifth-best score in school history, ASU completed three rotations without counting a fall, before it had to count two on balance beam en route to a 196.575-194.800 loss. The Huskies earned nine scores at 9.9 or better on the evening, while a 9.9 vault by Maggie Germaine was the only Sun Devil mark to reach that plateau. UW was led by Emily Pritchard, who finished with an all-around total of 39.675.

Up Next --
In their final regular season home meet, ASU will host intrastate rival Arizona at Wells Fargo Arena, Friday, March 1, at 7:30 p.m. MST. Arizona is currently ranked 12th.

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, keeping her out of the lineup until the UNO's Classic (Feb. 8), when she competed on bars and stuck her landing for a 9.825. Last week at Washington, she improved her season best to 9.85. Moon is expected to compete on bars again this week and will gradually add events as her knee continues to strengthen.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) --
Working the all-around every meet this season, Germaine is the only individually ranked Sun Devil with a 9.883 average on floor that has her tied for 19th nationally. Her best performances of the season came vs. Stanford and at the UNO's Classic. In both meets, Germaine scored 9.85 on vault and season bests of 9.875 on bars and 9.9 on floor. Her season-high vault of 9.9 was scored last week at Washington. Unfortunately, Germaine's all-around totals have been weighed down by beam, where she has recorded a fall in all six meets this season. Last year, Germaine fell in only two of 13 beam routines, finishing 2001 with a high of 9.875 and a 9.623 average. Also in 2001, Germaine was named ASU's co-MVP with Laura Moon after becoming the first Sun Devil freshman to earn All-America honors since Elizabeth Reid in 1997 (second-team, 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, tied 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. Seven of Germaine's final 28 routines were scored at 9.9 or better.

Ashley Ellsberry (junior) --
Who is the Sun Devils' next All-America candidate? Look no further than Ashley Ellsberry, ASU's most consistent beam and floor artist over the past two seasons. On beam, Ellsberry has a pair of 9.9s to stand as her season bests and has hit 17 of her last 18 routines over the past two seasons. On floor, where she has also hit 17 of her last 18 routines, she has scored 9.85 or better four times this season, including a career best 9.925 at the UNO's Classic. Adding bars to her resume, Ellsberry has competed on the apparatus four times with a best of 9.775. Last year, after suffering falls on beam and floor in the season opener, Ellsberry responded by hitting her final 24 routines of the season, scoring at 9.8 or better 17 times. She has career bests of 9.95 on beam and 9.925 on floor.

Rhonda Robinette (senior) --
A team co-captain, Robinette had her best meet of the season at California (Feb. 3) where she tied her career best with a 9.85 on bars and set a then-season best with a 9.85 on beam. At Washington last weekend, Robinette improved her 2002 best on beam to 9.875. 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) --
After a slow start in 2001 that saw her hit only three of her first eight routines through four meets, Cassidy Vreeke had a breakthrough performance in ASU's fifth meet vs. Stanford (9.7 v, 9.825 bb, 9.825 fx). This season, it was more of the same. Although she'd hit only two of five routines with a high of 9.675 (fx), Vreeke snapped out of her funk vs. Stanford by hitting all three of her routines en route to then-season highs of 9.725 (v), 9.8 (bb) and 9.875 (fx). In the two meets since (Vreeke didn't compete vs. Washington due to an injured ankle), Vreeke has scored a 9.75 and 9.825 on beam while improving her season best on floor to 9.925. Last year after her breakthrough vs. Stanford, Vreeke went on to score 9.8 or higher on vault four times (9.875 high), hit seven of her last 10 beam routines (9.85 high) and hit for 9.9-or-better on floor in three of ASU's last four meets including a career-best 9.95 at the Pac-10 Championships.

Margaret Wojciak (junior) --
As a junior, Magaret Wojciak is putting together arguably the best season of her career. She has a pair of career-high tying 9.9s on bars and has scored above her previous career high of 9.75 on floor three times, with a best of 9.875 recorded last weekend at Washington. Also at Washington, despite taking a fall on beam, Wojciak improved her best in the all-around to 38.650. Last year, Wojciak posted eight scores at 9.8 or better on bars with three 9.9s and scored a pair of career-high 9.8s on beam at the NCAA Regional and NCAA Championships (semifinal). Her other 2001 highs were 9.65 (v) and 9.75 (fx), in a combined five routines away from bars and beam.

Youth Movement --
In its quest to return to the NCAA Championships, ASU is relying heavily on the performances of its three freshman, Trisha Dixon (Fair Oaks, Calif.), Nicole Gause (College Station, Texas) and Kari Muth (Mesa, Ariz.). Through six meets this season, ASU has had at least two freshmen in every rotation but seven (17-of-24). Dixon has been the most consistent, with only one fall in 16 routines. Her strongest meet of the season was the UNO's Classic in which she set career bests of 9.8 on vault and 9.9 on beam (other bests: 9.675 (ub), 9.525 (fx) and 38.500 (aa)). Gause, who has been limited due an injured ankle, has competed five times on vault, with two scores of 9.8, and once on floor (9.5). Muth has established collegiate bests of 9.9 (ub), 9.8 (bb) and 9.875 (fx) over her last three meets, but has also failed to hit five of her last nine routines.

Important Imports --
ASU welcomed a pair of transfers in the off-season, and both sophomore Carla DeMartini and junior Melissa Lewis have made an impact in 2002. DeMartini, who spent her freshman season at the University of Oklahoma, sat out the first meet of the season but has been an important part of ASU's floor lineup since, including a career-best 9.9 at the UNO's Classic. She's also competed three times on bars, with her season best 9.7 coming at California, and once on vault. Lewis comes to ASU from Cal State Fullerton and has added depth to ASU's vault lineup. In her only competitive performance, Lewis suffered a fall (9.375). However, her exhibition in the Stanford meet earned a 9.6.

New & Improved --
Now a sophomore, walk-on Jada Cox is having a breakthrough sophomore season after competing sparingly as a freshman. In 2001, Cox didn't compete until the ninth meet, but filled in admirably down the stretch completing three vaults for 9.7-or-better over ASU's final five meets. In 2002, Cox has hit all six of her vaults, with her lowest score (9.65) good enough to earn third-place honors vs. UCLA. Her other five vaults have gone for 9.775 or better, including a career-best 9.9 vs. Stanford. At Washington, Cox made her debut on floor with a 9.775.

Comeback Trail --
Senior All-American Laura Moon isn't the only Sun Devil facing rehab. Last year, Amber Giorgianni had a strong first half of her freshman season, posting highs of 9.825 (v) and 9.875 (bb) through eight meets. However, in ASU's final warm-up on vault before the ninth meet of the year (vs. Auburn), Giorgianni suffered a torn ACL and was lost for the season. Still rehabilitating the injury, Giorgianni only appeared in exhibition conditions this season.

Tough At Home --
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. Then, in ASU's second home meet of 2002, No. 14 Stanford defeated the Sun Devils 195.775-195.450, marking Stanford's first-ever regular-season win in Tempe. While home losses are irregular, ASU has now lost two of its last four home meets (plus a tie vs. OSU) dating back to last season. That's its worst home stretch since the beginning of the 1992 season when the Sun Devils lost twice to start the season. What followed was a stretch that through the Stanford loss has seen ASU defeat 66 of its last 71 regular season opponents at home (1 tie). The dates of ASU's last five home losses are as follows: Stanford (1/25/02), 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. This season, ASU's home attendance got off to a strong start, after crowds of 1,102 (Utah State) and 1,320 vs. Stanford, but dropped to 881 for the UNO's Classic. The crowd that witnessed the Stanford meet was ASU's seventh-largest regular season home attendance since 1996.

Beam Blues --
Traditionally one of ASU's strongest events, the 2002 Sun Devils have outscored only two opponents on beam this year (California, Southern Utah). In all, they have completed only 20 of 36 beam routines without taking a fall.

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