No. 9 Women's Gymnastics Ready For Regionals, April 7
April 2, 2001
This Week --
Looking for its 16th trip to the NCAA Championships in 20 years, ASU will fight for a top-two finish at the NCAA Central Regional in Tuscaloosa, Ala., April 7 at 6:00 p.m. (CST). In addition to the 9th-ranked Sun Devils, the field of the Central Regional includes No. 4 Alabama, No. 16 Minnesota, No. 20 Kent State, No. 21 Ohio State and unranked Kentucky.
ASU In The Rankings --
After posting a fifth-place 195.725 at the Pac-10 Championships, ASU's Regional Qualifying Score remained at 196.490 for the third week in a row. Meanwhile, Iowa State moved past the Sun Devils as ASU slipped a spot to No. 9. Going into the regional meet, ASU's event-by-event rankings breakdown is as follows: 12th on vault (49.015 RQS/48.718 avg.), 16th on bars (49.165/49.027), ninth on beam (49.120/48.795) and ninth on floor (49.415/49.100).
Recent Results --
Failing to score a 9.8-or-better in two events, the No. 8 Sun Devils finished in fifth-place at the Pacific-10 Championships, trailing three teams it had defeated in the regular season. Winning the team title, Stanford (197.85) became the first team other than ASU to defeat UCLA (197.8) this season, which finished second. Washington (197.475) and Oregon State (196.550) avenged earlier losses to the Sun Devils with a three-four finish. ASU's 195.725 total bettered Arizona (195.525) and California (193.750). The Sun Devils felt their backs against the wall early on vault. Although scoring no worse than a 9.7, ASU also failed to score above Cassidy Vreeke's 9.775, marking the first time in nine meets that the Sun Devils couldn't meet the 9.8 marker for an event. After a brief rally on bars, including a 9.9 from Laura Moon, ASU's two-event total trailed only UCLA, Stanford and Washington. But on beam, 9.8s again eluded the Sun Devils, leading to ASU's second-worst beam total of the season: 48.375. Refusing to give in, ASU offered a final rally on floor. Getting a career-best 9.95 from Vreeke, a career-best-tying 9.9 from Ashley Ellsberry and a 9.925 from Kristin Fanning, the Sun Devils' 49.475 event total was their third-highest this season on floor.
NCAA Regionals --
The Sun Devils are not strangers to the implications of the NCAA Regional. Represented at 18 of 19 NCAA Championships, sending complete teams 15 times, ASU has walked this road with success before. However, the Sun Devils are coming off a 2000 season that saw no ASU individual advance to the NCAA Championships for the first time ever. Performing to a total of 195.500 last year, ASU's team bid was thwarted by the 195.65 effort of LSU that took the second berth behind first-place Nebraska. Interestingly, despite its 15 all-time team appearances at the NCAA Championships and its nine top-six finishes there, ASU hasn't placed first in a regional meet since 1987, when it's 189.00 total topped a seven-team field at the Midwest Regional, including second-place Utah at 188.60.
The Field --
Although dual meets and six-team regionals are vastly different stages, ASU's regular season-records versus its five opponents puts ASU on solid ground, historically speaking. Although it has not met Kent State and has a losing record of 4-8 vs. Alabama, ASU is 12-1 all-time vs. Minnesota, 7-4 vs. Ohio State, 1-0 against Kentucky. The solitary meeting vs. Kentucky came in the Sun Devils' final home meet of this season, where ASU fell to Nebraska, but defeated Kentucky and Iowa.
Moon Rising --
After two MVP seasons at Maryland, Scottsdale native Laura Moon is back in the Valley and back being a team leader. Tied for third nationally on bars, Moon has an RQS of 9.955 in the event and a 9.914 average. One of nine Sun Devils to record a perfect-10 in any event, Moon earned the first 10.0 of her career on bars at the UNO's Classic (Feb. 23), launching her to a Pac-10 Gymnast Of The Week award for Feb. 21-26. Two weeks later vs. Auburn, Moon earned her second perfect score on bars en route to a second Pac-10 Gymnast Of The Week honor. Also tallying a personal-season-high 9.825 on vault, a career-best-tying 9.925 beam, plus a 9.85 on floor, Moon accumulated an all-around total of 39.6 against the Tigers, breaking Meagan Wright's 1997 school-record mark of 39.575.
Talking 10s --
What's the significance of Moon's perfect-10 parade? Consider the following: The ninth Sun Devil to achieve the feat, Moon is responsible for the 14th and 15th 10.0 scores in ASU history. ... She has two of ASU's three such marks on bars ... ASU's only other 10.0 on bars was logged by Jenny Ester in 1993. ... While Tina Brinkman (floor `92, vault `94) and Carie Courtney (vault `97, `98) each achieved two perfect scores in their ASU careers, Moon and Danna Lister are the only Sun Devils to record perfect scores twice in one season. Lister, ASU's all-time 10.0-scoring leader, achieved perfection on beam four times from 1993-95, including two times in 1994. ... Elizabeth McNabb's 10.0 on floor in 1999 is ASU's only other perfect score over the past three seasons.
Fab Frosh --
She may be just 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 11 meets, Germaine has hit 39-of-44 routines, including her last 34-of-36. After debuting in the national rankings Feb. 26, Germaine is currently tied for 24th in the all-around (39.310 RQS/39.059 avg.). Germaine's season-best all-around total of 39.55 came against Arizona (Mar. 2), when she posted a 9.9 vault, a 9.85 on bars, a personal-best 9.875 on beam and a personal-best-tying 9.925 on floor. ... Although she turned in 24 routines without scoring a 9.9 or better to start the season, Germaine has reached or crossed the 9.9 plateau in seven of her last 20 routines. In ASU's final regular-season meet, Germaine improved her team-leading vault to 9.925.
Dynamic Duo --
Both newcomers to ASU, freshman Maggie Germaine and junior-transfer Laura Moon combine to make one of the nation's most potent one-two punches in the all-around. With an RQS of 39.310, Germaine is tied for 24th in the all-around, while Moon has the 27th-best RQS at 39.300. Only No. 1 UCLA, No. 6 Stanford and No. 14 Iowa State have a higher ranked tandems in the all-around. Perhaps the nation's most prolific pool of all-around talent is Georgia, with has three individuals ranked in the top-20 in the four-event discipline.
Captain Cowley --
Kelly Cowley, a team co-captain and two-time All-American, has been the model of consistency for the Sun Devils. Competing in every event except beam at all 11 meets, Cowley's scores have counted toward the team total all but four times. All totaled, she has hit 29-of-33 routines this season and has scored a 9.8 or above in 19 of her last 27. 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 in the event. The following week vs. Auburn, Cowley turned in her sixth consecutive score of 9.9-or-better on floor.
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 20-of-20 since. Entering the season with a career best 9.9 on beam and 9.75 on floor, Ellsberry has improved both marks considerably this season. Her first breakthrough on beam came at the UNO's Classic, when she turned in a 9.925 (Feb. 23). Two weeks later vs. Auburn, Ellsberry earned an ASU season-best 9.95. On floor, Ellsberry has scored above her previous best nine times, including a pair of 9.9s (vs. Arizona/Pac-10s).
Fantastic Fanning --
One of four seniors on the squad, Kristin Fanning has been a rock of stability on floor this season. Performing at all 11 meets, Fanning has a team-high 9.868 average in the exercise, highlighted by a 9.95 total at Arizona. Ever-dependable, Fanning has produced a floor score below 9.85 only twice this season. Meanwhile, her scores on bars have been on the rise, earning scores of 9.8-or-better in three of her last four routines.
Radically Robinette --
While she has also worked bars in five meets (season-high of 9.8), Rhonda Robinette has been a force on beam her junior year. Robinette's top beam scores of the season include a 9.9 vs. Arizona and a career-best 9.925 vs. Stanford. Minus a trio of falls, Robinette's lowest score of the year was a 9.8 vs. Washington.
Suddenly Skinner --
Through 11 meets, senior co-captain Kim Skinner has been a regular in ASU's bars rotation, competing all but twice on the apparatus. However, knee injuries to Ashley Stewart and Amber Giorgianni have thrust Skinner into the vault line-up the past three weeks where she has contributed to the team total each time with marks of 9.775, 9.725 and 9.75, respectively.
Valuable Vreeke --
After a disastrous start, Cassidy Vreeke has been rebounding toward a fantastic finish to her sophomore season. Through the first four meets, Vreeke competed once on floor, three times on vault and four times on beam, yet scored a 9.6-or-better in only three of the eight routines. Since then however, Vreeke has scored 9.8 or better in 11-of-18 routines. Included in that stretch is a career-high 9.875 on vault, three 9.85s on beam and a career-best 9.95 on floor.
Wojciak Attack --
After turning in a 38.475 vs. Oregon State in her only collegiate all-around appearance, sophomore Margaret Wojciak has competed in no more than two events per meet. Working bars a total of 10 times this year, Wojciak has been heating up of late, with three career-best-tying marks of 9.9 in her last seven routines, plus two marks of 9.85 and one 9.875.
Instant Injuries --
What had been a relatively injury-free season was redefined not quite nine meets into the season as ASU prepared for its dual vs. Auburn. First, in a March 6 practice, junior Ashley Stewart suffered a torn ACL and was lost for the season. Three days later, in ASU's final warm-up on vault, freshman Amber Giorgianni went down with an injured knee. While Giorgianni had also been a regular on beam (9.875 season-high), the Sun Devils' experience their greatest loss on vault, where Giorgianni had appeared in seven-of-eight meets and Stewart had competed in eight-of-eight. Combined, Giorgianni and Stewart produced five scores at 9.8 or better in 2001, including personal highs of 9.825 and 9.85, respectively.
Tale Of Two Extremes --
With the regular season complete, 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 10 meets since, the Sun Devils have put up six 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, a ninth-best 196.15 vs. Auburn and a 10th-best 196.1 vs. Utah. Before the season, ASU had only seven scores of 196.0 or above.
The Streak --
For 25 straight 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 beat 39 consecutive opponents dating back to 1996. However, in the 2001 season finale, ASU defeated 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. The dates of ASU's last four home losses are as follows: Nebraska (3/16/01), Utah (2/2/96), Utah (2/11/94), Oregon State (2/7/92).
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 drew 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 welcomed its first, third and tenth biggest regular-season crowds in six years. Add to that totals of 907 (vs. Auburn) and 1,040 (vs. Nebraska, Iowa, Kentucky) and ASU finishes the 2001 season with a total attendance of 6,671 (1,334.2 per meet). In recent years, only the 1998 season comes close to rivaling this year's effort. That year, a six-meet schedule that included the Midwest Regionals drew 6,906 fans, for an average of 1,289. In 1997, ASU averaged 1,289 per meet with a four-meet total of 5,157.
Up Next --
In control of their own destiny, the Sun Devils need to finish in the top-two at the NCAA Central Regional to advance to the NCAA Championships, April 19-21 at the University of Georgia.
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