No. 25 ASU gymnastics travels to No. 10 Stanford

The Gym Devils have faced quite a few ranked teams this season, but when they face No. 10 Stanford this Friday, they will be ranked, too.

No. 25 ASU only moved up one spot from last week, but breaking into that top 25 meant something for Coach John Spini and his team.

“I like it,” Spini said. “I like that my team likes it. I just want my team to keep being real strong and getting looked at with the right respect and that helps us. I’m all about the rankings meaning nothing, because when we get into regionals, it’s all new life, but if you’re ranked, some of those judges look at that, and it helps you with subjective judging.”

The meet against Stanford also means running into old friends.

Freshman Risa Perez is excited about possibly picking up a good road score against Stanford on this road trip. But seeing her best friend and club gym teammate, Stanford freshman Taylor Rice, is big in her mind.

“You go from everyday seeing them in your gym to nothing,” Perez said. “You know we send text messages every once in awhile when we’re not studying or whatever, so it’s really exciting.”

Perez and Rice will end up competing against each other on beam and floor. Floor has given Perez trouble in recent weeks. In her first tumbling pass, she has either fallen or landed low in the past three meets.

Last week, Spini said a decision would need to be made about that pass this week.

“I thought about changing it,” Perez said. “But since it’s so into season right now and the lack of workouts we have between competing and stuff, we decided to keep it. …We’re doing tramp again and really just working on spatial awareness.”

Another old friend at the meet will be Spini’s old assistant coach, Kristen Smyth, who is now head coach of Stanford.

The two used to coach beam together and separately they coach two of superior beam teams in the country with Stanford ranked No. 5 and ASU No. 19.

Smyth’s team has beaten every opponent on beam this season. True to Spini’s coaching style, he doesn’t pay any attention to that.

“You know every meet is a new meet and we’ll just see how it goes,” Spini said.

While the beam competition will be a big part of Friday’s meet, Spini’s biggest area of concern is vault.

Freshman vault specialist Erin Hamister, who put up a career high 9.85 against Oregon State last week, sees a big improvement in the lineup.

“It’s mostly confidence,” Hamister said. “Everyone can do a really good vault, it’s just sometimes, it’s a lot of pressure when you’re out there in front of the judges. But I think we’re really improving on that and as you can see, our vault scores are really going up so it’s been fun.”

ASU will have a quite a vault matchup with Stanford, which is ranked No. 11 on the event. The Cardinal is also ranked No.14 on bars and Sophomore Ivana Hong ranked No. 3 in the all around.

Reach the reporter at mklau@asu.edu