No. 15 Women's Gymnastics Hosts Intrastate Rival No. 12 Arizona Friday At WFA

Feb. 25, 2002

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This Week --
With Arizona coming to town ranked 12th in the nation, the No. 15 Sun Devils will play the unfamiliar role of underdog in the 2002 edition of this intrastate rivalry set for 7:30 p.m., Friday, March 1, at Wells Fargo Arena. The Wildcats bring north a dual record of 8-3 this season, with ASU standing at 5-5-1 overall. ASU has fared better historically in the desert duel, holding a 28-5-1 record all-time in regular season dual meetings with Arizona. However, in the last six regular season meetings, the teams have split victories, with Arizona's three wins happening in Tucson. The Wildcats have defeated ASU only once in Tempe, a 186.500-186.000 victory in 1987.

Arizona (8-3) --
Ranked 12th overall, Arizona comes to Tempe ranked second in the nation on vault (49.165), 19th on bars (48.665), 23rd on beam (48.305) and tied for ninth on floor (49.180). The Wildcats returned 12 letterwinners from the 2001 squad that went 5-15 and placed sixth at the Pac-10 Championships (they did not qualify for the NCAA Championships). Arizona is led by senior Randi Liljenquist, who is ranked eighth nationally in the all-around with a regional qualifying score of 39.290 (also 15th vault, 11th beam and fifth floor). Arizona is coached by ASU graduate Bill Ryden in his fourth season.

ASU In The Rankings --
ASU is up to 15th in the national rankings this week based on its Regional Qualifying Score of 194.645. By event, ASU is 18th on vault (48.725 RQS), 10th on bars (48.925), unranked on beam and 19th on floor (48.950). 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. 25 thru season's end).

Regional Qualifying Scores --
Regional Qualifying Scores (RQS) are calculated by taking a team's top six scores, of which three must be away scores, dropping the best score and averaging the remaining five. Thus, ASU's current RQS is based on averaging road scores at California (195.025), Washington (194.800) and Nebraska (194.600), plus home scores vs. Stanford (195.450) and Utah State (193.350). Its season-high UNO's Classic total (195.800) is dropped.

Recent Results --
Continuing their struggles on balance beam, ASU (194.600) mustered only a third-place finish at the Masters Classic in Lincoln, Neb., finishing ahead of Ohio State (193.600), but behind Nebraska (197.150) and West Virginia (194.750). The Sun Devils had hit 18-of-18 routines going into the final rotation on beam, but for the fifth time in seven meets this season, ASU suffered three falls on the apparatus. Despite hitting every routine through the first three rotations, ASU was granted scores no higher than a trio of 9.875s. Freshman Kari Muth accounted for two of those scores, one on bars, the other on floor. Senior Rhonda Robinette earned a season-high on beam with her 9.875.

Up Next --
The Sun Devils have two more opportunities to improve their away scores and thus their RQS standing. Next week ASU travels to Logan, Utah, to meet Utah State for the second time of the 2002 season at 7:00 p.m., Friday, March 8. After that ASU gets a week off from competition to prepare for the Pac-10 Championships, March 23.

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. Against Washington, she improved her best on bars to 9.85. Last week, Moon went for 9.825 on bars while making her beam debut with a 9.8. Moon is attempting to 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 9.880 RQS on floor that has her 21st 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 came at Washington (2/15). Unfortunately, Germaine's all-around totals have been weighed down by beam, where she has recorded a fall in all seven 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 18 of her last 19 routines over the past two seasons. On floor, where she has also hit 18 of her last 19 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 five 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. In the past two weeks, Robinette has produced season-high totals of 9.875 on beam at Washington and at the Masters Classic. 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 three meets since (Vreeke didn't compete vs. Washington due to an injured ankle), Vreeke has hit eight of nine routines, including a 9.75 and 9.825 on beam and a 9.7 and 9.925 on floor. 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 in her last meet at Washington (did not compete at Masters Classic, illness). 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 seven meets this season, ASU has had at least two freshmen in 18 of 30 rotations. Dixon has been the most consistent, with only two falls in 18 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 has competed six times on vault, led by 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 four meets. Last week, she led the team with 9.875s on bars and floor.

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 with a 9.804 average, including a career-best 9.9 at the UNO's Classic.. At the Masters Classic, she had her best meet of the season on vault (9.825) and bars (9.825). Lewis comes to ASU from Cal State Fullerton and has added depth to ASU's vault lineup. She suffered a fall (9.375) in her only competitive performance, but scored a 9.6 exhibition vs. Stanford.

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 seven of her vaults, with her lowest score (9.65) good enough to earn third-place honors vs. UCLA. Her other six vaults have gone for 9.725 or better, including a career-best 9.9 vs. Stanford (9.771 avg.). At Washington, Cox made her debut on floor with a 9.775. At the Masters Classic, she earned a 9.7 on floor.

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 23 of 42 beam routines without taking a fall. In five of seven meets ASU has at least three falls on beam.

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