No. 7 Women's Gymnastics Back At Home vs. Auburn

March 6, 2001

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This Week --
One week after setting three ASU records, the No. 7 Sun Devils (7-4) look for their 25th consecutive home win, hosting Auburn (record) at Wells Fargo Arena, Friday, March 9, at 7:30 p.m. MST.

ASU In The Rankings --
As a result of its school-record performance at Arizona, ASU unloaded its second-worst total of the year (193.75 vs. Oregon State) and saw a 0.675-point improvement in its Regional Qualifying Score (RQS -- determined by averaging a team's top six scores, of which three must be away meets). As a result, the a pre-season No. 11 Sun Devils moved up to their highest overall ranking of the year, seventh (196.375 RQS/195.575 avg.). In the event-by-event breakdown, ASU is 11th on vault (48.9/48.609), 10th on bars (49.15/49.072), fourth on beam (49.095/48.862) and seventh on floor (49.305/49.031).

Recent Results --
En route to a school record total, the No. 9 Sun Devils scored ASU all-time bests on bars (49.425) and floor (49.625) to defeat No. 22 Arizona 197.45-196.9. It was ASU's first win at Arizona in its last four trips. The Sun Devils were led by freshman Maggie Germaine, who came 0.025 points away from matching the ASU all-around record with her 39.550 total. Germaine's personal-best 9.9 on vault was a Sun Devil season-high, while her 9.875 on beam and 9.925 on floor were also personal bests. ASU's stunning floor attack was led by senior Kelly Cowley, who anchored with a personal-best and ASU season-high 9.975. Senior Kristin Fanning (9.95 floor) and sophomores Ashley Ellsberry (9.9 floor), Cassidy Vreeke (9.825 vault) and Margaret Wojciak (9.9 bars) also matched or set personal career highs.

Auburn (2-7) --
Led by a season-high 196.7 vs. Centenary (Feb. 16), Auburn has the nation's 37th-best RQS of 194.030 (193.681 avg.). The Tigers' are toughest on floor, where their 49.09 RQS ranks 19th. Although they do not appear in the top-25 anywhere else as a team or individually, Auburn is 35th on beam (48.415 RQS/48.234 avg.), 36th on bars (48.565/48.269) and 39th on vault (48.3, 48.153). Freshman Erin Gettle has the team's all-around high of 39.375, boosted by 9.925s on beam and floor. The only other Tigers to score 9.9-or-better, are sophomore Cheryl Lancaster, with a 9.9 on beam, and senior Missy Lauderdale with a 9.95 on floor. Auburn is coached by Jeff Thompson, in his second year.

Last Time vs. Auburn (2/19/94) --
Having started the 1994 season at 5-1, ASU encountered tough competition at the UCLA Invitational. Competing to a 191.4, the Sun Devils downed Auburn (188.65), Minnesota (197.75) and Illinois (181.275), but fell to UCLA (192.875) and Michigan (191.95). Finishing the meet with an 8-3 record, ASU wrapped the regular season at 13-4 before claiming 10th at the NCAA Championships.

All-Time vs. Auburn --
In each of the three meetings between ASU and Auburn, the Sun Devils have come away on top. However, Friday will mark the first time these programs have tangled in a head-to-head dual, not to mention the first time either club has hosted the other. ASU's 1994 competition with Auburn was at the UCLA invitational, while the 1991 and 1989 meetings were at Alabama and Florida, respectively.

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 four Sun Devils to appear in the national top-25 rankings, Moon's 9.86 RQS (9.846 avg.) on beam -- highlighted by 9.9s vs. Washington and at the UNO's Classic -- has her tied for 16th on that list, while her 9.925 RQS (9.903 avg.) on bars is tied for fourth. 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 then-school record team total (197.125) and bars total (49.375) -- the Sun Devils bettered both marks one week later vs. Arizona. Moon's UNO's Classic performance 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 leadership all season. The only Sun Devil to compete in the all-around at all eight meets, Germaine has hit 28-of-32 routines, including her last 23-of-24. In ASU's record-setting blitzkrieg vs. Arizona (March 2), Germaine turned in career bests on vault (9.9), beam (9.875) and floor (9.925), plus a 9.85 on bars, to score 39.550 in the all-around -- just 0.025 shy of the ASU record. After debuting in the national rankings at No. 24 (Feb. 26), Germaine's performance against ASU's archrival rocketed her to 16th in the all-around this week (39.025 RQS/39/019 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 eight meets, Cowley's scores have counted toward the team total all but twice. All totaled, she has hit 23-of-24 routines this season and has scored a 9.8 or above in 15 of her last 18. Against Utah, Cowley had her best meet of the year with a personal season-best effort on vault of 9.875, a career-best tying 9.925 on bars and a 9.9 on floor. Against Arizona, Cowley upped her career-best on floor to 9.975, leading ASU to a school-record 49.625. With a 9.895 RQS, Cowley squeaked into the floor rankings this week, in a two-way tie for 23rd.

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 14-of-14 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 six times, including a 9.9 vs. Arizona.

Fantastic Fanning --
One of four seniors on the squad, Kristin Fanning has been a rock of stability for ASU this season. Although her 9.8 on bars vs. Arizona was her season-best on that apparatus (career high 9.9), Fanning has been fabulous on floor. Performing at all eight meets, Fanning has a team-high 9.875 average in the exercise, highlighted by a 9.95 total at Arizona.

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 a pair of falls, 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. After a 9.9 on the apparatus vs. Arizona, Robinette earned a spot in the national rankings in a six-way tie for 23rd (9.855/9.722).

Stewart Special --
Competing on vault-only at all eight meets, junior Ashley Stewart has been making the most of her role as an assignment athlete. Despite suffering a fall vs. Stanford, Stewart's 9.715 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 six scores this season above her previous 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. Competing in no more than two events per meet since, Wojciak has matched her career-high on bars twice, 9.9s vs. Stanford and Arizona.

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 (see chart, left). 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 five totals that rank among ASU's all-time top-ten: a school-record 197.45 vs. Arizona, a previous record-tying 197.125 at the UNO's Classic (now 2nd), a fifth-best 196.725 vs. Stanford, a seventh-best 196.35 that upset No. 1 UCLA and an ninth-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 welcomed its first, third and tenth biggest regular-season crowds in six years. In fact, through three meets in 2001 (4,724), ASU has already outdrawn 2000's four-meet attendance (3,517) by 1,207.

Up Next --
ASU completes its regular-season schedule with a quadrilateral meet vs. No. 5 Nebraska, No. 10 Iowa and Kentucky, Friday, March 16 at 7:00 p.m.

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