“I think it’s a good weekend for an upset,” graduate student Kahoku Palafox said.
ASU head coach John Spini said this meet is instrumental for his team’s development.
“I think it’s a good weekend to keep improving,” he said. “This team is doing amazing. We haven’t counted a fall yet and, you know, there’re still little things we’ve got to improve at, but bars are fantastic. There’s a lot of good energy in here right now, and I think I need to stay grounded and keep the work going in here.”
ASU is coming off two 195-plus performances, including a 195.600 in its last home meet. ASU (1-3) will face an Oregon State team with a season average of 195.560.
The Sun Devils are also feeling good about some changes in the lineup, particularly sophomore Morgan Steigerwalt being added to the vault lineup last week and scoring a 9.8 after not competing in over a year.
“I hadn’t vaulted since senior year of high school, and I really like it,” Steigerwalt said. “I missed it.”
The addition of Steigerwalt helped ASU record its highest vault score this season against Utah last week.
After a fall on bars at the UCLA and Sacramento State San-Jose State meets, freshman Kristine Levin replaced senior Amelia Rew in the lineup.
“I think we needed to do that,” Spini said. “We put someone in that would get us to a good start. Amelia was not having a good two or three meets, but she did well on the back end in exhibition, but (the lineup) was a good start for us and our highest score on bars this year.”
Even with the season high, this new lineup is not set in stone.
“We’re going to look at practice and put the best six up there,” Spini said. “But I really like where Ko (Palafox) is. I really like the back five of our lineup, but that first spot is up for grabs still.”
Palafox has been strong for ASU this season on beam and bars and is excited about the resurgence on these two events from her team.
“At least in the four years since I’ve been here, we’ve had some trouble on bars and beam in particular, so it really pumps you up,” Palafox said. “It makes you want it.”
ASU’s strong beam scores are raising coach Spini’s confidence as well.
“I really like where my team is right now on beam,” Spini said. “We’ve got some really talented beam workers. We get (sophomore) Tasha (Sundby) off to a good start. Our back four or five are very strong, so I think we’re one of the top 10 teams in the country on beam, and that’s just a personal thought.”
Another item on the proverbial bulletin board for the Gym Devils is this week’s national rankings. ASU ranked No. 17 in the nation on beam, and this week’s opponent sits at No. 16.
“It’s been a while since we’ve had this consistent of a beam team,” Palafox said. “It’s really important, and the coaches always tell us beam wins meets. So something like that, being 17th and them being 16th, it really motivates you. We’re that close.”
Friday’s meet will be the Gym Devils “Gold Meet”. Fans are encouraged to wear gold attire and will receive a $2 discount in admission if they show up in gold.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com