No. 19 Women's Gymnastics Travels To Meet No. 2 UCLA

Jan. 16, 2002

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This Week --
Arizona State (1-0) leaps into Pac-10 Conference action this weekend when it challenges preseason No. 1 and two-time defending national champion UCLA (2-3), Sunday, January 20, at 2:00 p.m. PST in L.A.'s Pauley Pavilion. With this week's GymInfo rankings based on a team's highest score, the Sun Devils dropped to No. 19 this week, but were the No. 9 selection in the preseason coaches poll. Likewise, UCLA was picked to repeat as national champions in the coaches poll, but fell to No. 2 in the rankings this week. The Sun Devils have not defeated UCLA in Los Angeles since 1986.

UCLA (2-3) --
At 2-3, the Bruins already have two meets under their belts this season, and with Cal State Fullerton on their schedules Friday (Jan. 18), will have a third meet in before the Sun Devils meet them Sunday. The Bruins return 14 letterwinners, including seven All-Americans from last season. Their notable loss is that of two-time NCAA individual champion Mohini Bhardwaj. The Bruins have three losses this season, all on the road against some of the nation's best. Last-year's NCAA runner-up and current No. 1 Georgia has topped UCLA twice, with preseason No. 4 Alabama responsible for the Bruins' other loss. The Bruins are coached by Valorie Kondos Field in her 12th season.

ASU In The Rankings --
Currently 19th, based on their only score of the season (193.350), ASU dropped in the GymInfo rankings from its No. 9 position in the preseason coaches poll (Jan. 1). In the preseason poll, two-time defending champion UCLA was selected to defend its crown with 912 overall votes and 29 first-place bids. ASU received 582 overall votes and was neighbored in the standings by No. 8 Stanford (647) and No. 10 Oregon State (510). Arizona (17th, 238) and Washington (19th, 231) rounded out the list of Pac-10 teams making the top-25. Throughout the rest of the season, the weekly GymInfo rankings will be based on one of the following criteria: highest score (Jan. 14, 21), season average (Jan. 28, Feb. 4, 11, 18), regional qualifying score (Feb. 28 thru season's end). For a complete list of the current rankings see Page 2 of this release. For more information access

Recent Results --
Opening their season at home against Utah State (Jan. 11), the Sun Devils hit 19-of-24 routines, but scored at 9.8 or better only five times en route to their 193.350-191.700 triumph. Sophomore Maggie Germaine was the night's all-around winner at 38.725, paced by a 9.8 on bars and a 9.9 on floor. Junior Ashley Ellsberry led the team on beam with a 9.85 and added another 9.85 on floor. ASU's other top mark was turned in by freshman Nicole Gause, who opened the meet with a first-place 9.8 on vault. The Sun Devils' team totals actually went down as the night went on, starting with a 48.775 on vault, followed by a 48.475 on bars and then back-to-back 48.050 sums on beam and floor. In fact, the Sun Devils were actually outscored by Utah State in the final two rotations, with the Aggies producing a 48.250 on beam and a 48.125 on floor. Last season, when the Sun Devils lost on beam they were 0-5. When they lost on floor they were 1-5.

Up Next --
Arizona State returns home to face preseason No. 8 Stanford in dual action, Friday, January 25, at 7:30 p.m. in Wells Fargo Arena. The Cardinal are coached by Kristen Smyth, who was an associate/assistant coach at ASU for five years before accepting the top job at Stanford over the summer.

All-American Laura Moon (senior) --
One of two returning All-Americans on ASU's 2002 roster, the Sun Devils were hoping that senior all-arounder Laura Moon could lead them throughout the season. Unfortunately, injury struck first. And while she will no doubt factor in ASU's postseason goals, Moon is not expected to return from preseason knee surgery until mid-February.Last year, her first as a Sun Devil after two team-MVP stints with the University of Maryland, Moon wasted no time working her way into the ASU record books. Against Auburn, in one of her 11 appearances in the all-around, Moon earned a school record total of 39.600. Helping her to that sum was Moon's second perfect 10.0 score on the uneven bars, causing her to join Danna Lister as the only Sun Devils ever to record a pair of perfect marks in the same season (Lister earned two 10.0s on beam in 1994).Moon also had season highs of 9.825 on vault, 9.925 on beam and 9.925 on floor. Out of a combined 49 routines, Moon scored 9.9 or better 11 times. At the NCAA Championships, Moon earned second-team All-America honors with her 17th-place finish in the all-around, scoring 39.100.

All-American Maggie Germaine (sophomore) --
Named the team's co-MVP with Laura Moon at the end of last season, Germaine became the first ASU freshman to earn All-America honors since Elizabeth Reid in 1997, picking up second-team honors on vault. The only Sun Devil to compete in the all-around at all 13 meets in 2001, Germaine hit an impressive 46-of-52 routines, including 41 of her last 44. Her season-best all-around total of 39.550, scored against Arizona, tied her with Amy Shelton (1997) for third all-time at ASU. Her event-by-event highs were 9.925 on vault, 9.9 on bars, 9.875 on beam and 9.925 on floor. Showing signs of improvement down the stretch, seven of Germaine's final 28 routines were scored at 9.9 or better. In ASU's only meet this season, Germaine had an all-around total of 38.725, behind scores of 9.75 (v), 9.8 (ub), 9.275 (bb) and 9.9 (fx).

Ashley Ellsberry (junior) --
Going into her junior season, Ashley Ellsberry may be on the verge of joining Moon and Germaine among the All-America ranks. Last season, Ellsberry appeared on beam and floor at all 13 meets. While those two events are likely to be her strength again this season, don't be surprised to see Ellsberry move into an all-around role. In ASU's only meet this season, Ellsberry struggled through her first collegiate routine on bars (8.600), but responded with a pair of 9.85s on beam and floor. As a sophomore, Ellsberry was one of the Sun Devils' most consistent performers. After recording a pair of falls in the first meet, she went on to hit her next 24 straight, scoring a 9.8 or better 17 times. Among those marks were a pair of career bests, going 9.95 on beam vs. Auburn, and twice recording 9.9s on floor, including the Pac-10 Championships.

Rhonda Robinette (senior) --
A team co-captain, Robinette reassumes her position in ASU's bars and beam lineups. Against Utah State, Robinette earned scores of 9.55 (ub) and 9.65 (bb). Last season, Robinette appeared on beam in all 13 meets, and competed on bars seven times. One of her two season-high 9.8s on bars was turned in at the NCAA Central Regional. On beam, Robinette suffered only three falls, with the rest of her 10 routines all going for 9.8 or better. Among them was a 9.9 vs. Arizona and a career best 9.925 vs. Utah.

Cassidy Vreeke (junior) --
A regular on ASU's vault and beam lineup in 2001, by the end of the season, Vreeke had also developed into one of the team's best floor artists. On vault, Vreeke scored a 9.8 or higher four times, including a career-best 9.875. Hitting seven of her last 10 beam routines, Vreeke earned a season-best score of 9.85 three times, all in consecutive meets. On floor, Vreeke first improved her best from 9.85 to 9.925 vs. Auburn, only to improve yet again with a 9.95 at the Pac-10 Championships, the Sun Devils' top score of the meet for any discipline. This season she has scores of 9.65 (v), 9.1 (bb) and 9.35 (fx).

Margaret Wojciak (junior) --
Although she has competed in the all-around only once in her career, Wojciak's versatility will be a plus for the Sun Devils. In 2001, Wojciak made her most consistent contributions on bars, where she posted eight scores at 9.8 or better, including three career-best tying 9.9s. Wojciak came on strong late on beam, earning a pair of 9.8s at the low-scoring NCAA Central Regional and NCAA Championships (semifinals). Additionally, in limited action, Wojciak earned a season best of 9.75 on floor and 9.65 on vault. In the 2002 season opener, Wojciak earned marks of 9.775 (v), 9.65 (ub) and 9.2 (fx).

New And Improved --
Two returning athletes hoping to make larger contributions than they did a season ago are sophomores Amber Giorgianni and Jada Cox. Last year, Giorgianni began her collegiate career in fine fashion, posting a high of 9.825 on vault and 9.875 on beam through the first eight meets of the season. However, in ASU's final warm-up on vault before its ninth meet of the year (vs. Auburn), Giorgianni suffered a torn ACL and was lost for the season. Still rehabilitating the injury, Giorgianni appeared in exhibition action on bars (9.2) vs. Utah State. Cox, a walkon, didn't compete until that ninth meet of the season, but filled in admirably down the stretch for ASU, completing three vaults for 9.7-or-better over ASU's final five meets. In the 2002 season debut, Cox improved her collegiate best to a 9.775.

The Transfers --
ASU welcomes two transfers to its roster this season, sophomore Carla DeMartini and senior Melissa Lewis. DeMartini spent her freshman season at Oklahoma, where she competed vault, bars and floor. She earned All-Big 12 honors on vault with a 9.85 showing at the conference championship meet, however DeMartini's season best in the event was a 9.95. Her best score on bars was a 9.925, while a 9.875 stands as her best mark on floor. Lewis comes to ASU after two seasons at Cal State Fullerton. Likely to appear in ASU's vault lineup this season, Lewis' made her biggest impact at Fullerton with a 9.875 beam, scored during the 2000 season. Although Lewis appeared as an exhibition athlete on vault (9.525), neither athlete competed in ASU's 2002 season debut.

The Freshmen --
The Sun Devils' freshman trio got a healthy taste of collegiate competition in the 2002 season debut. Nicole Gause (College Station, Texas), opened the meet with a first-place 9.8 on vault. Kari Muth (Mesa, Ariz.), competed on bars (9.775) and beam (9.65). Trisha Dixon (Fair Oaks, Calif.), debuted in the all-around at 38.500, behind scores of 9.675 (v), 9.675 (ub), 9.65 (bb) and 9.525 (fx).

The Departed --
Trying to keep tabs on the ASU roster? At the end of the 2001 season, the Sun Devils said goodbye to four seniors, Becky Acker, Kelly Cowley, Kristin Fanning and Kim Skinner. Her days of competition complete, Fanning has actually stayed with the team as an undergraduate assistant coach. Other Sun Devils not returning this season are Ashley Stewart, who suffered a torn ACL in the middle of her junior campaign, and walkon Shannon Geary.

The Streak --
For 25 straight regular season 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 defeated 39 consecutive opponents dating back to 1996. However, in the 2001 season finale, ASU beat 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. Looking to build another streak, the Sun Devils won their 2002 season opener vs. Utah State. 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 --
While ASU's attendance report may not have rivaled Georgia's (last season's national leader in average attendance), the 2001 Sun Devils drew some of their largest crowds in recent history. Highlighted by a turnout of 2,108 that saw the Sun Devils upset No. 1 UCLA, ASU drew a total of 6,671 fans to Wells Fargo Arena for an average of 1,334 per meet. That was good enough for ASU to finish 16th in the national attendance rankings, its highest finish since GymInfo began tabulating national figures in 1998. This season, ASU's home attendance is off to a strong start, after a crowd of 1,102 witnessed the 2002 home opener vs. Utah State.

Slow Starting Sun Devils? --
Alarmed by ASU's 193.350 vs. Utah State, its fourth-lowest score dating back to the 2000 season? Don't be. For all the times ASU has saved its best for last, the Sun Devils don't have a reputation for flashy debuts. In fact, six of the last eight seasons have begun with ASU earning what would be its lowest team total of the year (exceptions: 1999, 2000). Last season, ASU opened the year with a 191.525 showing at the Maui Invitational, suffering losses to UCLA and Nebraska. After that, the Sun Devils responded to score six totals that ranked among the top-10 in school history, including a record 197.450 vs. Arizona.

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