No. 9 Women's Gymnastics To Meet No. 22 Arizona

Feb. 27, 2001

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This Week --
The No. 9 Sun Devils (6-4) will travel south to face intrastate rival Arizona (4-13), Friday, March 2, at 7:30 p.m. (MST) at McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz. ASU is searching for its second straight win over Arizona, but its first in the last four trips to Arizona.

ASU In The Rankings --
With the national rankings shifting from averages to the Regional Qualifying Score (RQS -- determined by averaging a team's top six scores, of which three must be away meets), ASU -- a pre-season No. 11 pick -- jumped to a No. 9 overall ranking, its highest of the year. In the event-by-event breakdown, the Sun Devils are absent from the top-25 vault list, but are sixth on beam (48.980 RQS/48.804 avg.), 12th on floor (49.070/49.009) and 13th on bars (49.020/49.021).

Recent Results --
Finally favored vs. No. 25 California (194.875), plus unranked Boise State (193.225) and UC Santa Barbara (185.075), No. 13 ASU showed no signs of holding back. Blowing away the competition at the UNO's Classic, the Sun Devils established new team season-highs in three of four events, set or matched individual season-bests on bars, beam and floor, and in the all-around, en route to a school-record-tying 197.125 team total, not to mention a school record 49.375 bars total. Contributing to that bars effort, Laura Moon notched her first career perfect 10.0. Only the second 10.0 ever for ASU on bars, it was ASU's first perfect score since 1999 and its 14th all-time. Moon's all-around total of 39.525, was only five-hundredths off of Meagan Wright's school record total of 39.575, in which she scored in the Sun Devils' other 197.125 performance, vs. Washington in 1997. Maggie Germaine also had a strong night, matching or setting personal bests on vault (9.85), bars (9.9) and floor (9.925) en route to her career best 39.375 all-around total.

Arizona (4-13) --
Don't be fooled by Arizona's overall record, the Wildcats are a dangerous team. Ranked 22nd in the nation, Arizona is coming off a slim 196.3-196.2 loss to No. 5 Stanford last week. The Wildcats are 12th on floor (49.07 RQS, 49.009 avg.), 17th on beam (48.665/48.45) and 19th on vault (48.685/48.566). Ranked 11th nationally in the all-around (39.210/39.047), junior All-American Randi Liljenquist is tied for 13th on floor (9.895/9.891) and 15th on beam (9.840/9.831). Senior Kara Fry's 39.080 RQS in the all-around (39.919) is ranked 20th nationally. Last week, Fry had a career-high 39.525 -- second-best in Arizona history. The Wildcats are coached by Bill Ryden, in his third year.

Last Time vs. Arizona (3/10/00) --
Competing to what would be its third-highest team total of the season, ASU finished out its regular season schedule with a 195.8-195.2 victory over Arizona. Led by Michelle Hess' 9.85 and a 9.825 from Cassidy Vreeke, ASU earned a season-best 49.05 on vault. On bars, Kelly Christensen-Cowley's career-high 9.925 lead to a season-best in that event. On floor, Christensen-Cowley added another top performance with a 9.95. The Wildcats were led by Randi Liljenquist's all-around winning 39.375.

All-Time vs. Arizona --
ASU dominates the desert rivalry with a 27-4 record vs. Arizona. However, Arizona has won its last three meetings at home vs. ASU: 196.3-195.95 in 1999, 194.625-194.2 in 1997 and 195.325-194.7 in 1996.

Moon Rising --
After two MVP seasons at Maryland, Scottsdale native Laura Moon is back in the Valley and back being a team leader. One of two Sun Devils to appear in the individual national rankings, Moon's 9.83 RQS (9.841 avg.) on beam -- headlined by 9.9s vs. Washington and at the UNO's Classic -- has her tied for 23rd on that list, while her 9.905 RQS (9.892 avg.) on bars is tied for ninth. Moon's best score on bars came during an ASU record-setting extravaganza at the UNO's Classic. En route to a career-high 39.525 in the all-around, Moon scored the first 10.0 of her career on bars to pace ASU to a school record 49.375 in the event, plus a school record-tying 197.125 team total. Moon's performance at the UNO's Classic earned her Pac-10 Gymnast Of the Week Honors for Feb. 21-26.

Fab Frosh --
She may be a freshman, but Maggie Germaine has been providing ASU with veteran-type leadership all season. The only Sun Devil to compete in the all-around at all seven meets, Germaine has hit 24-of-28 routines this year, including her last 19-of-20. At the UNO's Classic, Germaine recorded season-highs on vault (9.85), bars (9.9) and floor (9.925), en route to an all-around total of 39.375, second this season only to Moon's 39.525 that same night. When the formula for national rankings turned to the RQS, Feb. 26, Germaine made her inaugural collegiate appearance in the national standings at 24th in the all-around (39.050 RQS, 38.943 avg.).

Captain Cowley --
Kelly Cowley, a team co-captain and ASU's only returning All-American, has been the model of consistency for the Sun Devils. Competing in every event except beam at all seven meets, Cowley's scores have counted toward the team total all but twice. All totaled, she has hit 20-of-21 routines this season and has scored a 9.8 or above in 12 of her last 15. Against Utah, Cowley had her best meet of the year with a team season-best effort on vault of 9.875, a career-best tying 9.925 on bars and a 9.9 on floor. At the UNO's Classic, Cowley upped her season-best on floor to a 9.925 -- tied with Kristin Fanning and Maggie Germaine for the team-high.

Essentially Ellsberry --
Sophomore Ashley Ellsberry may have started the season cold, but she's been hot ever since. A beam and floor specialist, Ellsberry missed on both routines at the Maui Invitational, but has hit 12-of-12 since. Entering the season with a career best 9.9 on beam and 9.75 on floor, Ellsberry has improved both marks this season. On beam, her 9.925 at the UNO's Classic moved her into a tie for the team lead with Rhonda Robinette. On floor, Ellsberry has scored above her previous personal best five times, including 9.875s vs. UCLA and at the UNO's Classic.

Fantastic Fanning --
One of four seniors on the squad, Kristin Fanning has been a rock of stability for ASU this season. Although yet to achieve above a 9.775 on bars in five attempts (career high 9.9), Fanning has been fabulous on floor. Performing at all seven meets this year Fanning has a team-high 9.864 average in the exercise, plus a share of the season lead after her 9.925 effort at the UNO's Classic (Kelly Cowley and Maggie Germaine matched the 9.925 effort at UNO's).

Radically Robinette --
While she has also worked bars in four meets (season-high of 9.8), Rhonda Robinette has been a force on beam her junior year. Other than falls at the Maui Invitational and the UNO's Classic, Robinette has score no worse than 9.8 (vs. Washington). Her season-best 9.925 (vs. Stanford), not only ties her for the team lead with Ashley Ellsberry, but also stands as her career best.

Stewart Special --
Competing on vault only at all seven meets, junior Ashley Stewart has been making the most of her role as an assignment athlete. Despite suffering a fall vs. Stanford, Stewart's 9.7 average is third on the team behind only Kelly Cowley and Laura Moon. Tied for second on the team with a 9.85 season -high, Stewart has turned in five scores this season above her previous personal best of 9.7.

Wojciak Attack --
Sophomore Margaret Wojciak has already increased her contribution since her freshman season. Against Oregon State, Wojciak made her collegiate debut in the all-around and finished with a 38.475, higher than any ASU all-around performance in 2000. Since then, Wojciak has competed in no more than two events for a single meet, but that hasn't stopped her from matching her career-high on bars with a 9.9 vs. Stanford.

Tale Of Two Extremes --
Not quite halfway through the season, 2001 has truly seen some of the best and worst times for ASU gymnastics. At the season opening Maui Invitational, the Sun Devils stumbled to a team total of 191.525, its third-worst score since 1997. Considering that 10 of the last 15 season openers had seen ASU put up its lowest total of the year, there was reason to think that ASU would improve, but this much? In the seven meets since, the Sun Devils have put up four totals that rank among ASU's all-time top-ten: a school-record tying 197.125 at the UNO's Classic, a fourth-best 196.725 vs. Stanford, a sixth-best 196.35 that upset No. 1 UCLA and an eighth-best 196.1 vs. Utah. Before the season, ASU had only seven scores of 196.0 or above.

The Streak --
If it appears as if ASU's home winning streak grew in the off-season, it did. Contrary to many early reports (after the 2000 season, ASU was listed as having won 20 straight at home against 29 opponents), further statistical review shows that the Sun Devils have won their last 24 home meets, defeating 38 opponents -- including three meets against five opponents in 2001. The last team to defeat ASU in Tempe was Utah, which bested the Sun Devils 193.875-193.25, Feb. 2, 1996. That loss was ASU's first in its last eight home meets, and its first since Utah snapped a nine-meet home wining streak, Feb. 11, 1994. Thus, ASU has won 40 of its last 42 home meets, defeating 61 opponents. The last team to beat the Sun Devils at home other than Utah was Oregon State (192.7-192.55) Feb. 7, 1992.

The Fans --
If you win, they will come. While ASU's attendance report might not rival Utah's (annually the nation's leader), this year the Sun Devils have seen some of their biggest crowds in recent history. Drawing 2,108 vs. UCLA, 1,508 for the UNO's Classic and 1,108 vs. Washington, ASU has seen its first, third and tenth biggest regular-season crowds in six years. In fact, through three home meets in 2001 (4,724), the Sun Devils have already outdrawn 2000's four-meet attendance (3,517) by 1,207.

Up Next --
The Sun Devils return home to host Auburn, Friday, March 9 at 7:30 p.m. (MST) in Wells Fargo Arena.

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