ASU gymnastics travels to Denver looking for redemption

There’s no doubt about it: The Gym Devils had a poor meet last Saturday.

The ASU gymnastics team faltered on the beam, its best event, and lost to its rival UA live on the Pac-12 Network.

ASU has the duty of coming back from the tough loss, and it will do it on the road for a tri-meet against No. 13 Denver and Illinois State in Denver.

Assistant coach Tom Ward hasn’t noticed anything different in practice this week. He felt the team’s attitude was confident, which is expected for a team heading into Pac-12 and regional championships in a few weeks. That doesn’t mean the meet was without takeaways.

“I think because we hadn’t counted a fall all year and then they had that meet where they had to count a fall, you learn from that experience,” Ward said. “They learned how that felt, and it was not a good feeling. So, they’re pretty refocused.”

Graduate student Kahoku Palafox, who was part of that beam lineup, said the group is trying to keep their confidence high.

“With the team, a lot of us feel that it was kind of a fluke,” she said. “We know we’re a great beam team, and we did really well on the other three events. We kind of feel like, you know, that’s not going to happen again. We just have to keep doing what we’re doing and go after it.”

It also doesn’t mean that there aren’t positives to build on from last week.

One of those positives was a career high 9.875 vault for freshman Carissa Kraus. She said the trick was focusing on watching her landing a lot more in training.

“It felt amazing because it was my all-time high,” Kraus said. “It kind of made me more confident, because I’ve been really wanting to stick my vault, and I usually take a huge step back and that was probably my smallest step back, which was awesome and gave me a lot more confident to keep improving.”

After the tough loss, sophomore Morgan Steigerwalt commented that she felt the freshmen had a little trouble getting into the rivalry. Kraus agrees with her.

“Yes.” Kraus said. “For sure. I didn’t really understand it especially after hearing people talk about it and stuff. But now I feel it, I felt it in the gym, and I just really wanted to come away with a win, so it was sad when we lost and I can get the gist of it now.”

Kraus also says she thinks the freshmen can use that as fire for the upcoming week.

As for the opponents, ASU will face another ranked team in Denver and a lesser accomplished foe in Illinois State.

Denver has a strong floor team, which scored a 49.300 against No. 16 West Virginia last week. It averages scores just below 196.

Illinois State has struggled on the floor this year with its season-high total score being a 195.000.

A ranked team and an unranked team can cause athletes to prioritize, but Palafox is weary to do so.

“You take it into consideration, something like that. You say, ‘These are our opponents, good competition, both ranked and unranked.’” Palafox said. “Sometimes teams can really upstage you, so there’s a lot to be said about going out there and doing your best.”

The meet will start at 6 p.m. MST Saturday night. Denver’s athletic department is reporting a sell-out due to a guest appearance from Olympic gold medalist Jordyn Wieber.

Reach the reporter at mklau@asu.edu.