Women's Gymnastics Seeks NCAA Championships Berth Tonight At Wells Fargo Arena

April 6, 2002

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This Week --
Seeking its 17th team berth to the NCAA Championships, Arizona State's women's gymnastics team will need to finish first or second at the six-team NCAA South Central Regional, tonight at Wells Fargo Arena at 6:00 p.m. Challenging ASU for the top-two team spots will be No. 1 UCLA, No. 12 Arizona, No. 17 Brigham Young and unranked Cal State Fullerton and Illinois-Chicago. No. 18 ASU has met all but BYU and Illinois-Chicago this season. Also competing for NCAA berths will be individual event and all-around competitors from the following schools: Illinois-Champaign, Northern Illinois, Southeast Missouri State and Texas Woman's University.

Go On, Or Go Home --
There will be six rotations, which were assigned by random draw. Individual competitors will compete at the end of the team's rotation to which they are assigned. To advance to the NCAA Championships as a team requires a first or second place finish. To advance as an individual all-arounder requires a first or second place four-event point total among gymnasts on teams not already advancing to the national meet. To advance to the NCAA Championships on a specific event requires a first place finish in that event (including gymnasts on teams already advancing to the national meet).

ASU's Regional Rotation --
Drawing a rotation identical to the Pac-10 Championships, ASU will begin the night on beam. It will have a bye in the second rotation before moving to floor in the third, to vault in the fourth, to a bye in the fifth and to bars in the sixth and final rotation.

ASU In The Rankings --
Failing to improve its Regional Qualifying Score at the Pac-10 Championships, ASU finished the regular season ranked 18th, its lowest ranking since January. Picked to finish ninth in the preseason poll (matching their 2001 finish) ASU has been ranked no higher than 13th this season. By event, ASU is 18th on vault (48.950 RQS), 15th on bars (49.075), unranked on beam and 18th on floor (49.230). Throughout the season, GymInfo rankings are based on one of the following: high score (Jan. 14, 21), average score (Jan. 28, Feb. 4, 11, 18), regional qualifying score (Feb. 25 thru season's end). Current rankings are available on Page 2 of this release. For more info access www.gyminfo.com/troester.

Regional Qualifying Scores --
Regional Qualifying Scores (RQS) are calculated by taking a team's top six scores, of which three must be away scores, dropping the best score and averaging the remaining five. ASU's final RQS is based on averaging road scores at Utah State (196.100), California (195.025) and Washington (194.800), plus home scores at the UNO's Classic (195.800) and vs. Stanford (195.450). Its record total vs. Arizona (197.850) is dropped.

Recent Results --
Starting the evening with four falls on beam, ASU finished sixth at the Pac-10 Championships for just the second time in school history, its lowest finish ever. Finishing with a 194.125 team score, ASU failed to improve its RQS. National No. 1 UCLA claimed the team title (197.625) followed by Arizona (197.050), Stanford (196.150), Oregon State (196.125), Washington (195.425), ASU (194.125) and California (189.700).

Up Next --
Should they qualify as a team or individually, the NCAA Championships are April 18-20, in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

All-American Laura Moon (senior) --
Having battled back from preseason knee surgery, plus other injuries sustained separately from a fall in practice, Laura Moon has hit nine of her 10 routines this season for 9.8 or better. She made her season debut on bars at the UNO's Classic (Feb. 8) scoring a 9.825, and has competed on bars in all six meets since with a high score of 9.85 (Feb. 15 vs. Washington) and a season average of 9.820. Moon made her 2002 beam debut with a 9.8 at the Masters Classic (Feb. 23) and has hit two of three routines since including a career best 9.95 vs. Arizona. Moon may compete on vault and/or floor for the first time this season at the regional. 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) --
The only Sun Devil to compete in the all-around at all 13 meets last season, Maggie Germaine looked to continue her all-around role in 2002. However, through seven meets, Germaine had hit a combined 20 of 21 routines on vault, bars and floor, but was 0-for-7 on beam. Since being removed from the beam lineup, Germaine has hit nine straight routines. She is ASU's season leader on vault (9.95), bars (9.9) and floor (9.95), based on her career bests established vs. Arizona -- her first meet out of the beam lineup. Her 9.88 RQS on vault makes her ASU's only nationally ranked individual, tied for 20th with six others. In 2001, Germaine was named ASU's co-MVP with Laura Moon after becoming the first Sun Devil freshman to earn All-America honors since Elizabeth Reid in 1997 (second-team, vault). 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. Seven of Germaine's final 28 routines were scored at 9.9 or better.

Ashley Ellsberry (junior) --
Who is the Sun Devils' next All-America candidate? Look no further than Ashley Ellsberry, ASU's most consistent beam and floor artist over the past two seasons. Dating back to the second meet of her sophomore season, Ellsberry has hit 20 of her last 22 beam routines and 21 of her last 22 floor routines, scoring 9.8 or better a combined 31 times. Her 9.725 average on beam leads the team, as do her three scores of 9.9 or better in the event this season. Her season and career best in the event was a 9.925 at the UNO's Classic. Ellsberry has also added an event this season, competing on bars in eight of 10 meets. Hitting all but two bar routines this season, Ellsberry has completed her last five with a low of 9.725. Her career best is a 9.875, established vs. Utah State and Southern Utah.

Rhonda Robinette (senior) --
One of two seniors on the squad, Rhonda Robinette had her collegiate career come to a close prematurely when she broke the humerus bone in her right arm in a March 28 practice. Robinette had been a regular on ASU's bars and beam lineups this season. On beam in ASU's dual meet vs. Arizona, she notched the 16th perfect-10.0 score in school history, the sixth all-time on beam and the first on that event since 1997. She also had a pair of 9.875s to highlight her 2002 season. On bars, where she scored a career-best 9.85 at California, she hit nine of 10 routines. Last year Robinette had a strong meet at the NCAA Central Regional in Tuscaloosa, Ala., earning a season-best 9.8 on bars before scoring a 9.825 on beam in front of a raucous crowd. She wraps her Sun Devil career with highs of 9.85 on bars and 10.0 on beam.

Cassidy Vreeke (junior) --
A three-event athlete (all but bars), Cassidy Vreeke comes into the NCAA Regional having hit eight of her last nine routines for 9.7 or better. She had her best meet of the season vs. Arizona, setting career bests on vault (9.925) and beam (9.925), while posting a 9.9 on floor. On vault, her next-best scores this season are two 9.725s. On beam, after taking a fall at Pac-10s, she has hit five of eight routines for 9.75 or better. On floor she has three marks of 9.9 or more, including a season-best 9.925. After scoring no better than 9.65 in the 2002 season opener, Vreeke has hit nine straight routines in home meets.

Margaret Wojciak (junior) --
Having arguably the best season of her career, Margaret Wojciak has provided the Sun Devils with much needed consistency. Competing on vault and bars in every meet but one (Masters Classic, missed due to illness), Wojciak has hit a combined 14 of 18 routines for 9.7 or better. Four of her last six routines have earned 9.8s or above. On vault, she has three season highs of 9.8. On bars she has a pair of career best 9.9s. She has taken 0.5 deductions on both of her beam routines, but on floor she's hit three of four routines, while pushing her career best to 9.875.

Youth Movement --
In its quest to return to the NCAA Championships, ASU is relying heavily on the performances of its three freshman, Trisha Dixon (Fair Oaks, Calif.), Nicole Gause (College Station, Texas) and Kari Muth (Mesa, Ariz.). Dixon has been the most consistent, with only two falls in 19 routines. Her strongest meet of the season was the UNO's Classic in which she set career bests of 9.8 on vault and 9.9 on beam (other bests: 9.675 (ub), 9.525 (fx) and 38.500 (aa)). However, she has missed the last two meets after taking a fall in vault warm-ups at Utah State. Gause, who has also been limited due to injury (ankle) has competed seven times on vault this season and once on floor. Her top vaults were a pair of 9.8s to start the season. Her only floor performance earned a 9.5. Muth has been the most dynamic rookie, competing on bars, beam and floor in all but one meet this season. In two of the last three meets she recorded her season bests of 9.9 on bars, 9.875 on beam and 9.925 on floor.

Important Imports --
ASU welcomed a pair of transfers in the off-season, and both sophomore Carla DeMartini and junior Melissa Lewis have made an impact in 2002. DeMartini, who spent her freshman season at the University of Oklahoma, sat out the first meet of the season but has been an important part of ASU's floor lineup since with a 9.744 average, including a career-best 9.9 at the UNO's Classic. Her last four vaults have gone for 9.8 or better (9.875 season high), and her last bar routine scored a 9.825. Lewis comes to ASU from Cal State Fullerton and has added depth to ASU's vault lineup. She suffered a fall (9.375) in her only competitive performance, but has exhibition scores of 9.6 and 9.65.

New & Improved --
Walk-on Jada Cox is having a breakthrough sophomore season after competing sparingly as a freshman. In 2001, Cox didn't compete until the ninth meet, but filled in admirably down the stretch completing three vaults for 9.7-or-better over ASU's final five meets. In 2002, Cox has hit all 10 of her vaults to lead the team with a 9.795 average. Even her lowest score (9.65) was good enough to earn third-place honors vs. UCLA. Her other eight vaults have gone for 9.725 or better. Her career best is a 9.925 from the Arizona meet. In ASU's last five meets she's also appeared on floor, with four marks at 9.7 or higher including two 9.825s.

Comeback Trail --
Senior All-American Laura Moon isn't the only Sun Devil making a comeback from knee surgery this year. In ASU's March 1 meet vs. Arizona, sophomore Amber Giorgianni appeared in official competition for the first time in almost a year, earning a 9.8 on beam. The following week at Utah State (March 8), Giorgianni set a personal best on beam with a first-place score of 9.925. As a result of her strong comeback, Giorgianni was named the Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week for March 4-11. Last season, Giorgianni was enjoying a fine freshman campaign (highs: 9.825v, 9.875bb) before tearing her ACL in vault warm-ups before the ninth meet of the season (vs. Auburn).

Beam Blues? --
Traditionally one of its strongest events, ASU has struggled on balance beam most of the season and things won't get any easier with the recent loss of Rhonda Robinette (broken arm). Through 10 meets, ASU has completed only 35 of 60 routines on the apparatus without a fall, suffering three or more falls on beam in six meets, including four falls in its dual vs. UCLA and at the Pac-10 Championships. Ironically, ASU's only six-for-six performance on beam this season resulted in three school records, the only school records recorded this season. In its dual against Arizona, Robinette tied the ASU record with the sixth perfect 10.0 on beam in program history, leading to a school record 49.650 event total and a school record 197.850 meet total. ASU's most consistent beam worker has been junior Ashley Ellsberry, who has hit eight of 10 routines, including six at 9.85 or better.

It's A Hit --
En route to its school record team total vs. Arizona, ASU hit a season best 23 of 24 routines, including 13 at 9.9 or better. In its seven meets prior and two meets since, ASU has tallied a total of 19 scores of 9.9 or higher. ASU also established 13 personal bests vs. the Wildcats.

Insufficient Evidence --
Although ASU's sixth place finish at the Pac-10 Championships would seem to indicate otherwise, recent history suggests that the Sun Devils may have in fact increased their odds of qualifying for the NCAA Championships. Consider that in 1997, the only other time ASU placed sixth in the conference meet, it went on to earn its fourth NCAA runner-up finish. And that just last year ASU placed fifth at Pac-10s, but made it to NCAAs where it took ninth. On the other hand, in 1995 and 1996, ASU placed second at the conference championships -- its best finishes since 1988 -- and failed to qualify for the national meet both times.

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