A stubborn injured ankle left ASU junior Samantha Seaman out of competition all year and left to hobble along the sidelines every meet. The Gym Devils surely missed the all-arounder. As she stood on the vault runway for the first time Friday night, a little smile came over her face.
Minutes before, sophomore Natasha Sundby stumbled on her landing and got a lower-than-her-usual 9.675. Before that, freshman Carissa Kraus botched her landing and ended up sitting on the mat. ASU needed Seaman more than ever.
The junior delivered with a huge vault and — what do you know — a stuck landing. Now an even bigger smile came over her face.
Samantha Seaman is back.
And with her help and a team pumped up for senior night, ASU took care of visiting Bridgeport and broke the 196 plateau for the first time since 2009: 196.025-195.725.
“Oh my gosh, it felt so good.” Seaman said. “I’m so happy I was able to come back for the team and help them on vault because we were behind a little bit all season.”
After the tough start on vault, ASU got back to their normal performances on bars with four scores of 9.850 or above. The turning point, coach John Spini said, was the first of those — a career high 9.850 from senior Amelia Rew, who was competing for her last time at Wells Fargo Arena.
“They were a little down after vault, but Amelia hit that set, there was energy and they lit it up,” Spini said.
Seaman and Rew weren’t the only ones finishing the regular season off right. Several Sun Devils helped secure the win that wasn’t a sure thing until the final two performances with Bridgeport holding the lead through three rotations.
Sophomore Sasha Tsikhanovich was strong all meet, including a 9.9 on vault and a 9.875 on floor. Junior Lissette La Fex also put a consistent meet together for the Purple Knights.
Floor started off with freshman Allie Salas matching her career high 9.85 while Jenna Hamala-Smith scored a 9.650 on beam for Bridgeport. ASU took the lead at this point after being behind .175 going into the fourth rotation and the Sun Devils never looked back. Freshman Alex Cope followed with a 9.85 of her own, a career high.
“Those two kids are work horses, they do their job in practice,” Spini said. “They’re not somebody that you’ve got to baby around; they want to compete really hard. When I see those scores, I’m thinking, ‘Gosh you know, they deserve that.’ They work hard and it’s a good thing for our team.”
Freshman Stephanie Miceli and sophomores Morgan Steigerwalt and Natasha Sundby then sealed the deal with a 9.85, 9.8 and a 9.9 respectively.
The score was the first time the Sun Devils surpassed the 196 mark since grad student Kahoku Palafox’s freshman year, and now she’s seeing it in her last meet on her home floor at ASU.
“I thought I would cry more to be honest,” Palafox said. “I don’t think it’s quite hit me yet. I think it’s funny because I think I cried more last season seeing my classmates leaving.”
And the great score to finish everything off?
“Oh just icing on the cake.” Palafox said.
Pac 12 championships will start next Saturday in Corvallis, Ore.
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