No. 9 Women's Gymnastics To Make 16th Team Appearance At The NCAA Championships in Athens, Ga.
April 12, 2001
This Week --
ASU makes its 16th team appearance in 20 years of the NCAA Championships, beginning Thursday, April 19 at 7:00 p.m. (EST) at Stageman Coliseum in Athens, Ga. The Sun Devils will appear in the second of two six-team sessions that day, with the top three teams in each preliminary meet advancing to the Super Six, Friday, April 20 at 7:00 p.m. For Super Six competitors that qualify, individual event finals will be competed Saturday, April 21 at 7:00 p.m.
The Field --
Looking to qualify for the Super Six from Session I are (rankings based on Regional Qualifying Scores at the end of the regular season): No. 1 UCLA, No. 4 Alabama, No. 7 Michigan, No. 12 Florida, No. 13 Oregon State and No. 19 Oklahoma. Competing in Session II are No. 2 Georgia, No. 3 Nebraska, No. 5 Utah, No. 6 Stanford, No. 9 ASU and No. 24 Denver.
ASU In The Rankings --
Going into the NCAA Central Regional, ASU was ranked 9th overall with a Regional Qualifying Score of 196.490 and an average of 195.641. 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). The Sun Devils' 195.950 team total at the NCAA Central Regional was the ninth-best score at any of the six regional events. Alabama, which placed ahead of ASU, earned the highest regional score at 198.000.
Recent Results --
While No. 4 Alabama notched 13 scores at 9.9 or better en route to a 198.000 total and a runaway win at the NCAA Central Regional, ASU survived a dogfight to advance to the NCAA Championships with a second-place total of 195.950. Although they hit 23-of-24 routines, the Sun Devils' only score to reach the 9.9 plateau was earned by sophomore Cassidy Vreeke on floor. After opening on floor with a team total of 49.150, ASU moved to vault where it scored 48.500. Going into the fourth of six overall rotations, ASU trailed not only Alabama, but also Minnesota and Ohio State. However, ASU made a statement on bars with five scores of 9.8 or better, including junior Laura Moon's team-best 9.875, en route to a 49.100 total. Moving to beam to finish up their night, the Sun Devils proved that they had saved their best for last, competing to a 49.200 team total behind 9.85s from Moon and freshman Maggie Germaine, plus sophomore Ashley Ellsberry's 9.875. With a bye in the sixth rotation, the Sun Devils watched as Minnesota tallied a 49.075 on floor, coming up 0.15 points short of tying ASU for second-place.
NCAA Championships --
Now represented at 19 of 20 NCAA Championships, this is the 16th time the Sun Devils have qualified as a team. With nine top-six finishes in the last two decades, ASU can boast of four runner-up efforts, most recently in 1997. This year's return to the championship meet is a sweet one for ASU, as 2000 marked the first time the Sun Devils failed to qualify a team or individual. Of the 11 other teams at the tournament, ASU has met six of them already this season. In regular-season action, UCLA topped ASU at the Maui Invitational, but fell to the Sun Devils in Wells Fargo Arena, Jan. 26. Nebraska also bested ASU in Maui, before snapping ASU's home winning streak, March 6. ASU came up short on the road at Stanford and Utah in consecutive weeks, while Oregon State fell to the Sun Devils at home, Jan. 19. At Pac-10s, ASU finished behind Stanford, UCLA and OSU. Alabama topped the Sun Devils at the NCAA Central Regional.
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 ASU gymnasts ever 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. (For a complete list of ASU Perfect-10 scores, locate the sidebar on Page 3).
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 12 meets, Germaine has hit 43-of-48 routines, including her last 38-of-40. After debuting in the national rankings Feb. 26, Germaine is 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 24 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 (non-qualifier) have higher ranked tandems in the all-around. Perhaps the nation's most prolific pool of all-around talent is Georgia, which has three individuals ranked in the top-20 in the four-event discipline. At the NCAA Central Regional, Moon and Germaine produced the fourth (tied) and sixth best all-around totals at 39.175 and 39.150, respectively.
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 12 meets, Cowley's scores have counted toward the team total all but four times. All totaled, she has hit 32-of-36 routines this season and has scored a 9.8 or above in 21 of her last 30. 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. At one point this season, Cowley turned in five-straight scores 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 22-of-22 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. At the NCAA Central Regional, Ellsberry's 9.875 led ASU in their final rotation, securing a bid to nationals. 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 12 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 six 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, her lowest score of the year was a 9.8 vs. Washington.
Suddenly Skinner --
Through 12 meets, senior co-captain Kim Skinner has been a regular in ASU's bars rotation, competing all but twice on the apparatus (season-high 9.825). However, knee injuries to Ashley Stewart and Amber Giorgianni have thrust Skinner into the vault line-up the past four weeks where she has contributed to the team total each time with marks of 9.775, 9.725, 9.75 and 9.725, respectively.
Absolute 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 on vault, beam and floor, 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 12-of-21 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. Her 9.9 on floor at the NCAA Central Regional was ASU's highest mark in any event that night.
Wojciak Attack --
Predominantly working bars and beam, sophomore Margaret Wojciak has also contributed on vault (season best 9.625) and floor (9.75) this season. On bars, she has scored 9.8s or better in seven of her last eight routines, including three career-best 9.9s. At the NCAA Central Regional, Wojciak improved her career-high on beam from 9.725 to 9.8.
NCAA Notables --
Alarmed by ASU's fifth-place finish at the Pac-10 Championships, its second-worst ever? Don't be. In 1997, ASU endured its worst conference finish ever (sixth-place) before taking second at the NCAA Championships. Also, of the four teams that finished ahead of ASU in this year's conference meet, only host Washington failed to advance to the NCAA Championships. ... With nine individual NCAA titles in the program's history, ASU's last individual title winner was Elizabeth Reid on beam in 1997. Reid's solo win was the first since ASU picked up four of five individual titles in 1986.
Instant Injuries --
What had been a relatively injury-free season was redefined almost 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 ACL injury. While Giorgianni had also been a regular on beam (9.875 season-high), the Sun Devils' experienced 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 bests 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 11 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.