No. 17 Women's Gymnastics To Face Utah State, Southern Utah, Friday

March 5, 2002

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This Week --
Coming off a multi-record performance vs. Arizona, with only two opportunities remaining to boost its Regional Qualifying Score, Arizona State (6-5-1) will face Southern Utah (1-5) and Utah State (4-10) in Logan, Utah, Friday, March 8, at 7:00 p.m. MST. ASU has already competed against both opponents this season. In the 2002 opener, ASU downed Utah State, 193.350-191.700. The Sun Devils picked up a win over Southern Utah at the UNO's Classic, 195.800-192.375. ASU leads both all-time regular season dual series, 10-3 over Utah State and 3-0 over Southern Utah.

Utah State (4-10) --
Unranked nationally, the last time the Aggies competed at home they defeated Boise State 193.400-193.350. Their season-best score was a 193.600 in a loss to Utah. USU is led by all-arounders Jessenia Abrego (39.175 season high) and Mike Love Houston (38.8).

Southern Utah (1-5) --
Unranked nationally, the Thunderbirds are coming off a season-best 193.975 and a split vs. Eastern Michigan (194.450) and Illinois-Chicago (191.450). They will meet Boise State (March 6), prior to Friday's meet with the Sun Devils. SUU is led by all-arounders Talayna Fortunato (39.025 season high) and Carly Geronimo (39.050).

ASU In The Rankings --
Despite an improvement in its Regional Qualifying score (195.135), ASU is down to 17th in the national rankings. By event, ASU is 19th on vault (48.785 RQS), 9th on bars (49.075), unranked on beam and 14th on floor (49.130). 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). Current rankings are available on Page 2 of this release. For more info access www.gyminfo.com/troester.

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. ASU's current RQS is based on averaging road scores at California (195.025), Washington (194.800) and Nebraska (194.600), plus home scores at the UNO's Classic (195.800) and vs. Stanford (195.450). Its school record total vs. Arizona (197.850) is dropped.

Recent Results --
The Sun Devils earned the third-highest score in the nation this season with a school record 197.850-196.700 win over Arizona. In addition to their team total, ASU set a school record on balance beam with a 49.600 team total led by Rhonda Robinette's perfect-10.0, the 16th perfect score all-time for ASU and the sixth on beam. Robinette's 10.0 was one of 13 ASU routines that set or tied personal bests. Maggie Germaine improved her bests on vault and floor with 9.95s, while tying her top bars score (9.9). Cassidy Vreeke improved her highs on vault and beam from 9.875s to 9.925s. Freshman Kari Muth tied her bars best (9.9) and improved on beam (9.85) and floor (9.925).

Up Next --
After a week off, the Sun Devils will enjoy their final opportunity to post a high away score and improve their RQS standing when they vie for a conference title at the Pac-10 Championships in Stanford, Calif., March 23.

All-American Laura Moon (senior) --
Battling back from preseason knee surgery, Laura Moon has hit all six of her routines this season for 9.8 or better. She made her season debut on bars at the UNO's Classic (Feb. 8) scoring a 9.825. She has competed on bars in each of the three meets since with a high score of 9.85 (Feb. 15 vs. Washington) and a season average of 9.825. Two weeks ago, Moon made her comeback on beam, debuting for a 9.8 at the Masters Classic (Feb. 23). In ASU's last meet vs. Arizona (Mar. 1), after scoring a 9.8 on bars, Moon earned a career best 9.95 on beam. She 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) --
Last season, Maggie Germaine was the only Sun Devil to compete in the all-around at all 13 meets, hitting an impressive 46-of-52 routines, including 41 of her last 44. Through seven meets this season, Germaine continued her all-around role. Yet while 17 of her 21 combined routines on vault, bars and floor had gone for 9.8 or better, Germaine was 0-7 on beam, suffering a fall on the apparatus at each meet. Germaine was removed from the beam lineup for the first time of her career vs. Arizona (Mar. 1) and responded by tying her career-high on bars with a 9.9, while improving her career bests on vault and floor from 9.925s to 9.95s. Germaine has 2002 averages of 9.775 (v), 9.837 (ub), 9.210 (bb), 9.868 (fx) and 38.785 (aa). 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). 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 and a 9.925 to stand as her season bests and has hit 19 of her last 20 routines over the past two seasons. On floor, where she has also hit 19 of her last 20 routines, she has scored 9.85 or better five times this season, including a career best 9.925. Ellsberry has added bars to her resume in 2002, hitting four of six routines for 9.75-or-higher. In ASU's last meet, Ellsberry earned a career best 9.8 on bars, plus a season-high 9.925 on beam and 9.9 on floor. Last year, after suffering falls on beam and floor in the season opener, Ellsberry responded by hitting her final 24 routines, scoring at 9.8 or better 17 times.

Rhonda Robinette (senior) --
One of two seniors on the squad, Rhonda Robinette saved her best for last. In the final regular season home meet of her career, Robinette scored a perfect-10.0 on beam vs. Arizona. The 16th perfect score in ASU history, sixth all-time on beam and first on beam since 1997, Robinette's effort improved her personal best from a 9.925. After coming out of the gate slowly, four of Robinette's last five beam routines have earned 9.85s or better. She is also enjoying one of her most productive seasons on bars, hitting the 9.8 plateau three times including a career-high 9.85 vs. California. Last year, 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.

Cassidy Vreeke (junior) --
A huge factor in ASU's record-setting performance vs. Arizona was Cassidy Vreeke, who went for 9.9 on floor while improving her all-time bests on vault and beam from 9.875s to 9.925s. Vreeke's other top meets this season were vs. Stanford (v9.725, bb9.8, fx9.875) and at the UNO's Classic (v9.65, bb9.825, fx9.925). Save the Washington meet, which she sat out due to injury, Vreeke has appeared on vault and floor in every meet, and on beam in six of seven meets. After a slow start last season, 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, Margaret 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 vs. 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.). Dixon has been the most consistent, with only two falls in 19 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 been the most dynamic, competing on bars, beam and floor in all but one meet this season. She is coming off a stellar performance vs. Arizona in which she tied her best on bars (9.9) and boosted her highs on beam (9.85) and floor (9.925).

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 9.732 average, including a career-best 9.9 at the UNO's Classic. Over the last two meets, she's set her season bests on vault (9.875) 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 has exhibition scores of 9.6 and 9.65.

New & Improved --
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 eight of her vaults to lead the team with a 9.79 average. Her lowest score (9.65) was good enough to earn third-place honors vs. UCLA. Her other seven vaults have gone for 9.725 or better. In ASU's last three meets she's also appeared on floor with a 9.766 average. Against Arizona, Cox posted career-highs in both events: 9.925 on vault and 9.825 on floor.

Comeback Trail --
Senior All-American Laura Moon isn't the only Sun Devil making a comeback from knee surgery this year. In ASU's March 1 meet vs. Arizona, sophomore Amber Giorgianni appeared in official competition for the first time in almost exactly a year, earning a 9.8 on beam. Last season, Giogianni was enjoying a fine freshman campaign with highs of 9.825 (v) and 9.875 (bb) through the eighth meet of the season, March 2, 2001, at Arizona. But 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.

Beam Blues? --
Through seven meets of the season, the Sun Devils couldn't slay the dragon that is balance beam. Traditionally one of its strongest events, ASU had outscored only two opponents on the apparatus (California, Southern Utah), suffering at least three falls on beam in the other five meets -- hitting only 23 of 42 routines overall. But in ASU's eighth meet vs. Arizona, it all came together. The Sun Devils hit all six routines for the first time this season, its lowest score being Amber Giorgianni's 9.8. Meanwhile, Kari Muth set a personal best with a 9.8 and Ashley Ellsberry had a season-high 9.925 matching Cassidy Vreeke, who improved her career best from 9.875. Laura Moon upped her best to 9.95, and fellow senior Rhonda Robinette stole the show with ASU's first perfect-10.0 on beam since 1997. It was all enough for the Sun Devils to set a school record with an event total of 49.650.

It's A Hit --
While the accomplishment of 13 personal bests no doubt played a role, the secret to ASU's school record success vs. Arizona had as much to do with the number of routines successfully completed. ASU hit a season-best 23-of-24 routines, with Carla DeMartini's 9.3 on floor, Trisha Dixon's 9.725 on vault and Margaret Wojciak's 9.775 on bars standing as the only sub-9.8 scores of the night. Boosted by consistency, ASU tallied 13 scores at 9.9 or better, just two shy of its total for the previous seven meets combined (15).

Regional Action Up Next --
The final regular season home meet is in the books, but there's still another chance to catch ASU at Wells Fargo Arena. Saturday, April 6, the Sun Devils will compete as one of the six teams at the South Central Regional, set to begin at 6:00 p.m. The top-18 teams in the nation are seeded out to the six regional meets (3 apiece), with the remaining team spots (three per meet) filled by teams within the region. Four event specialists (1 per event) and five all-arounders will also compete at each regional.

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