Women's Gymnastics Looks To Rebound Against No. 14 Stanford, Friday At Wells Fargo Arena

Jan. 23, 2002

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This Week --
After posting their ninth-worst team total in six seasons over the weekend and falling out of the GymInfo top-25, the Sun Devils (1-1) will be looking to rebound when they host No. 14 Stanford (1-1) this Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Wells Fargo Arena. The Cardinal are coached by Kristen Smyth, who spent the previous five seasons as an ASU assistant/associate coach. ASU leads the all-time regular season series against Stanford 14-3, but the Cardinal have won two out of the last three meetings, including a 197.050-196.725 decision in the Bay Area last season.

Stanford (1-1) --
The defending Pac-10 Champions and eighth-place finishers at the 2001 NCAA Championships are under new management after former ASU assistant/associate coach Kristen Smyth took over for four-year coach Mark Cook in the off-season. The Cardinal are off to a 1-1 start, losing at Minnesota and winning their home opener vs. Washington. Stanford returns 10 letterwinners to its roster from last season, including four All-Americans.

ASU In The Rankings --
With the January 20 rankings based on a team's season-high score, ASU dropped out of the current GymInfo top-25. The Sun Devils' best team score of 2002 is a 193.350 vs. Utah State. Penn State is the 25th-ranked team with a high of 193.375. In the preseason coaches poll, ASU was picked ninth, just behind Stanford (8th) and just ahead of Oregon State (10th). 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 www.gyminfo.com/troester.

Recent Results --
Twice accumulating team event totals below 48 points, the Sun Devils wound up with their ninth-worst team total in six seasons, losing to No. 2 UCLA by the score of 195.325-192.125 at Pauley Pavilion. Competing on balance beam in the final rotation, freshmen Trisha Dixon (9.7) and Kari Muth (9.625) were the only Sun Devils to avoid a fall as ASU finished with an event total of 47.300, its lowest on beam since 1999. The Sun Devils' best event of the night was floor exercise where Ashley Ellsberry and Maggie Germaine led the way with a pair of 9.875s en route to a team total of 49.025, their highest in any event on the young season. Muth added a 9.825 on floor and sophomore-transfer Carla DeMartini completed her ASU debut with a 9.775. The Sun Devils were hoping to improve upon the 193.350 total that defeated Utah State in the season opener, but for only the third time in the past nine seasons, ASU's debut performance will not net the team's lowest score of the year. The last two seasons that occurred were 1999 and 2000. In 1999 ASU went on to finish fourth in the nation. In 2000, ASU failed to qualify for the NCAA Championships as a team or individual for the first and only team in schol history.

Up Next --
Arizona State goes back on the road next weekend when they meet Pac-10 foe California in Berkeley, Sunday, Feb. 3 at 2:00 p.m. PST. The Sun Devils have an all-time regular season record of 21-2 against the Golden Bears and have won the past nine straight meetings.

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. This season, Germaine has hit five of her eight routines, with event highs of 9.75 (v), 9.8 (ub), 9.325 (bb), 9.9 (fx) and 38.725 (aa).

Ashley Ellsberry (junior) --
Who is the Sun Devils' next All-America candidate? Look no further than junior Ashley Ellsberry. Although she made her collegiate uneven bars (8.600) debut in the 2002 season opener, Ellsberry is one of the Sun Devils' most dependable beam and floor competitors with career bests of 9.95 and 9.9, respectively. After suffering falls on beam and floor in the 2001 season opener, Ellsberry responded by hitting her final 24 routines of the season, scoring at 9.8 or better 17 times. In the 2002 opener vs. Utah State, Ellsberry continued her solid streak by scoring a pair of 9.85s and running her consecutive-routines-hit to 13 in each event. However, over the weekend at UCLA, after scoring a 9.875 on floor, Ellsberry suffered her first fall on beam in 14 meets.

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). At UCLA, she improved on bars to a 9.75 before suffering her first fall of the season on beam. 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, by the end of the 2001 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 bests of 9.65 (v), 9.1 (bb) and 9.675 (fx).

Margaret Wojciak (junior) --
Although she has competed in the all-around only once in her career, Wojciak's versatility is 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. Thus far in 2002, Wojciak has bests of 9.775 (v), 9.65 (ub), 9.025 (bb) 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 walk-on, didn't compete until that ninth meet of the 2001 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, before placing third at UCLA with a 9.65 effort.

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. Making her first appearance of 2002 vs. UCLA, DeMartini earned scores of 9.65 (ub) and 9.775 (fx). ... Lewis comes to ASU after two seasons at Cal State Fullerton, where she earned her best score on beam (9.875). Lewis made her official Sun Devil debut with a 9.375 vault at UCLA. Prior to that she competed exhibition on vault vs. Utah State (9.525).

The Freshmen --
ASU's freshman trio is quickly making an impact. In the 2002 season opener, Nicole Gause (College Station, Texas) earned a meet-high 9.8 on vault, but suffered a sprained ankle that kept her out of action last week. Meanwhile, Kari Muth (Mesa, Ariz.) has season bests of 9.775 (ub), 9.65 (bb) and 9.825 (fx) through two meets. Trisha Dixon (Fair Oaks, Calif.), competed in the all-around vs. Utah State (38.500) and has season bests of 9.675 (v), 9.675 (ub), 9.7 (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 walk-on 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.

Don't Call It A Comeback --
Although ASU failed to improve upon its season debut team score for only the third time in the past nine seasons when it lost at UCLA 195.325-192.125 over the weekend, it's far too early to count the Sun Devils out this year. Just last season, ASU opened the year with an even lower score, a 191.525 at the Maui Invitational. Although the Sun Devils then responded with a 193.750 effort that beat Oregon State in the second meet of the season, it was in the third meet that the Sun Devils took it to another level. Hosting No. 1 UCLA, ASU handed the Bruins a 196.350-196.000 defeat. That victorious score was one of six ASU accumulated in 2001 that rank in the program's all-time top-10, including its school record of 197.450.

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