Sun Devil Gymnasts Ready For NCAA Championships Tomorrow

April 23, 2003

ASU Head Coach John Spini:

'I want to thank all of the staff at Nebraska for hosting this great meet. We are very excited to be here. There is so much parity in this sport right now. It used to be that there were five or six great teams and now there are 15 to 20. Our three seniors have given us a great season. They have provided very strong leadership, confidence and maturity to their teammates. Actually, we have about the same team we had last year except that we added Ashley Kelly, an impact freshman. And, we stayed healthy.

'We have had a season in which we have moved to No. 2 in the rankings, dropped to No. 6 and moved back up to No. 3. I am very proud of my team for that.

'We did not train the day before the Pac-10's in Los Angeles and we did not train the day prior to the regionals in Ann Arbor. I met with my staff and the team captains and we were looking for that formula to get us to the third day of competition. It gives us another day to rest physically and mentally. It has worked for us on two other occasions, helping us to hit 22 and 23 out of 24 routines. It has been our pattern to save our bodies.

'Nebraska has a tremendous advantage with the home crowd. I have not seen them this year so I really don't know what to expect. They are for real, however. UCLA is defintely No. 1 right now. Nebraska has a chance to win. I have not seen Iowa or Alabama, either. There are a lot of good teams here.

'I am so proud to be in this sport. When you upset Utah in Salt Lake and score above 197 for most of the year, it is gratifying. If there's one thing I have learned in the sport is that judging is subjective. You just have to go out and perform your best and see what happens.

'I have seen UCLA three times this year. They have tremendous talent on the floor with Olympians and national team members. They are really good with their landings on vault. They are good on bars. They're good on beam, No. 1 nationally, we are No. 2 and Stanford is No. 3. UCLA is tremendous on every event. What you'll see is that they have to miss, but again, i have not seen Alabama or Nebraska this year.

'In 1997 we went into nationals as the No. 11 seed and finished second. Anything can happen.'

Senior All-Arounder Ashley Ellsberry:

'We're excited to be here. We've missed going to nationals by small margins. We are real confident right now. Everyone on the team has stepped up, from the freshmen to the seniors and right on through. We are looking to have some fun.'

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