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No. 23 Gym Devils Win Tri-Meet Home Opener

Jan 13, 2023

TEMPE – No. 23 Sun Devil Gymnastics took first place in a tri-meet with Eastern Michigan and UC Davis on Friday night in the home opener at Desert Financial Arena, scoring a 196.375.

Notable Stats

  • Arizona State (3-2, 0-0 Pac-12) improved after the first week, hitting the 196-plus mark for the first time this season and hitting every routine. UC Davis took second with a 193.950, while Eastern Michigan was in third with a 192.150. 
  • The streak of meets hitting 49-plus on bars is now up to 10 in a row, dating back to last season. All four scores that counted were a 9.825 or better, scoring a 49.300.
  • Junior Emily White had another stand-out meet, winning three event titles: vault (9.875), floor (9.850) and the all-around (39.375). She scored above a 9.825 in each event in the win.
  • Another solid all-around performance came from senior Hannah Scharf, who also won the floor title with a 9.850. She had a 39.350 in the all-around, scoring at least a 9.800 in every event.
  • On bars, junior Sarah Clark won the title with ASU's lone 9.900 of the evening. It's her fourth bars title of her career. 
  • There were two career-highs in the win tonight: junior Cienna Samiley scored a 9.875 on bars and freshman Kayla Lee led off on beam with a 9.800.
  • Two Sun Devils competed for the first time this season in tonight's meet. Junior Cassi Barbanente made her season debut on vault, scoring a 9.775. Sophomore Alex Theodorou competed on bars, earning a 9.725.
  • Prior to the meet, the team was awarded their 2022 Pac-12 Regular Season Champions rings. That was the first regular season title for the program.

Head Coach Jay Santos
Opening Statement 

"I'm pretty pleased with the progress we made from week one to week two. We talked about the room we had for improvement and things like that last week. I think we took a good step forward. I think we started really strong. Vault and bars really came out and set the tone for us. We gotta finish a little bit stronger on beam and floor, but overall this meet's a good step for us and a much better score for us. I'm pretty pleased."

On the home opener giving the team confidence
"Being at home definitely helps. They know the building, they know the equipment; there's nothing new, it's just that home feel. The crowd's always great; the energy the crowd brings always helps. That comfort level that comes from being at home, especially for the upperclassmen, juniors and seniors, that have been around and done it. They were excited about this, they were excited about the ring ceremony. That added a little more fire to it. That got them pumped up. Just being at home is always comforting for them." 

On areas they were focusing on, such as landings
"We talked about last week that we only stuck two dismounts in the whole meet, for all events. That's always one thing in our sport… you're giving away tenths if you're stepping all over the place. That was one thing. In practice we are landing better than that. I think we did a good job today controlling our landings, especially bars. It looks so easy when they just get it rolling like that, but obviously we work hard at it all year long just like everybody does. Handstands are another point of focus that we constantly talk about and make sure that we're doing it at a high level. Landings on vault. Beam, making sure we're crisp and clean, and we're not checking. Floor, we want to land clean again, we get to do the lunge steps but you have to land clean with control, and not give anything away. We gave probably too much away with leaps in the first meet. I think we did a little better job there as well tonight."

On trusting Kayla Lee to lead off on beam
"She's a good beamer. When we were recruiting her, we were looking at her routine. When she's on, it's a really good spot for her. She's good at beam, so she can get out there and set the tone for us on that event. She's pretty confident, her skills are pretty easy for her. That was kind of the vision in recruiting her. This could be a kid that could be leading off for us for multiple years in a row on beam and really set the tone for us."

On any one impressive performance
"Anaya stepping up and getting to her full vault again and getting a one-and-a-half back out there was great. This might sound a little weird, but Juliette's exhibition routine on floor was good to see. That's her first thing really getting back out there after her injury last year. Definitely some nerves there, but she's ready to go. I'm really proud we were able to get her out there. We were able to introduce a couple kids in lineups. Alex got back out there, Cassi got back out there today. Cassi did a great vault. They both did good bar routines (Cassi on exhibition). Emily had a really strong meet again, Hannah had a really strong meet, Gracie had another really strong meet. I think there's a lot to go around to be excited about."

Junior Sarah Clark 
On celebrating 2022 Pac-12 Championship

"It felt so exciting. I know that this has been a goal of ours for so long and a goal of our coaches. They've been here for so long and they really turned this program around. Being able to be a part of that and something that this team has never done before was so special. Finally being able to get honored and getting the rings, they're gorgeous. So it was just very exciting."

On the bars rotation
"Right before I got on the bar today, the last thing Jay said to me was, 'Bring us home.' And so I know it's my job to go up there and hit the best routine that I can and just focus on everything that I've done in practice, everything I've done in the gym. One thing we've really been working on is bar landings. So sticking that dismount at the end and dialing in that landing especially to finish off the rotation is something that gets the team really hyped. So there's always some nerves, but it's just best to go out and do our usual thing."

On next week
"It's definitely going to be a fun experience. High energy, hopefully, and just small improvements from this week. Like I said, we jumped up from last week, and we were all super happy and excited with tonight. But I know that we definitely left a little bit out there. So just small improvements for next week and getting back to work."

Junior Emily White
On being back home

"It feels really great. I think that we're in a really good spot for the beginning of the year and just going from even last weekend to this weekend, there were significant improvements. So I'm just excited to see what else we do this season."

On the bars rotation
"I think for me I find confidence seeing the first half of the lineup hit and do their normal routines, which definitely happened today. I think on all four events, everyone did a really good job of building off of each other. So I was really confident going up in that fifth spot, having four hit routines before me. So I think that's a big part of it."

On next week
"Well, I'm excited for the Beauty and the Beast meet. Just having wrestling there and having more fans, that aspect of it, I'm really excited for because I think only our seniors have had that experience before. So I'm excited for that."

Final Results

  1. Arizona State, 196.375
  2. UC Davis, 193.950
  3. Eastern Michigan, 192.150

Rotation One: Vault, 49.125
In the third position, Anaya Smith's 9.825 gave ASU a spark, as her vault was followed up with Reeves' own 9.825. Emily White recorded the best vault score of the night in the fifth position with a 9.875. Closing out the Gym Devil's rotation on vault, Scharf hit the third 9.825 of the night. 

Rotation Two: Bars, 49.300
For the second meet in a row, bars proved to be ASU's best event. Tying the Gym Devil's highest score of the night on bars, Samiley showed off her talents with a 9.875, a career high for the junior. Scharf quickly matched Samiley's score right after. Not to be outdone, Clark swung herself to the first 9.900 of the night for ASU. White notched her 10th meet in a row (dating back to last season) recording at least a 9.800 on bars with a 9.825. 

Rotation Three: Beam, 49.000
In her second meet on the beam for the Gym Devils, Kayla Lee began the rotation with a 9.800. Gracie Reeves stuck the landing for her third personal 9.825 of the night. In her third event, Emily White added another 9.825. 

Rotation Four: Floor, 48.950
Emily White and Hannah Scharf ended their strong all-around performances with team-high 9.850s. Jada Mangahas' floor routine landed her a 9.800.  

Up Next
Arizona State will host Stanford in the Beauty and the Beast event on Friday, January 20, at 7 p.m. MST. The event will showcase a simultaneous match between Sun Devil Wrestling and Cal Poly at Desert Financial Arena. It will be on the ASU Live Stream.