ASU gymnastics dominates at Washington

Natasha Sundby competes on vault at the first home meet. (Photo by Arianna Grainey)

Natasha Sundby competes on vault at the first home meet. (Photo by Arianna Grainey)

Facing a Washington team ranked in the preseason top 20, a San Jose State squad that beat them in Tempe last week, and UC Davis, ASU gymnastics put together a complete performance, taking first place in the quad-meet Saturday. The Sun Devils finished with a collective score of 195.900, as San Jose State took second with 194.825, followed by Washington (194.625) and UC Davis (191.850).

“The team competed with extreme confidence, they really wanted to go in there tonight and get a road win,” assistant coach Tom Ward said. “When you get a big road score, close to a 196, that really helps later in the season when regional qualifying starts.”

The Sun Devils started the night on the uneven bars, as sophomore Risa Perez led off with a 9.775. After freshman Kellie Wanamaker’s stumble on the dismount resulted in a 9.200, freshman Beka Conrad scored a 9.675, followed by a 9.7 from sophomore Stephanie Micelli. Sophomore Carissa Kraus anchored for ASU and scored a strong 9.875, bringing the team total to 48.8, good for second overall.

Conrad opened up for ASU on the balance beam, and the freshman scored a solid 9.800. Another freshman, Gilly Hogue, followed her with a 9.800 as well. A pair of 9.7s from junior Morgan Steigerwalt and junior Brianna Gades along with a 9.775 from Micelli and a 9.8 from Perez closed out a strong showing on beam for the Sun Devils, with a collective 48.875, best of the four teams.

Ward said he was proud of the freshmen in their first road meet.

“(Hogue and Conrad) were tough as nails again today, and they stuck everything they competed in,” Ward said. “That’s huge when freshmen can perform balance beam routines on the road for the first time and stick the routine, it’s incredible for the program.”

ASU’s best event of the night came on floor, as sophomore Allie Salas and Conrad opened up with consecutive 9.8s. Senior Sammie Seaman followed with a 9.850, and after Steigerwalt scored a 9.775, Perez earned a career-high 9.875, tops in the meet. Junior Natasha Sundby finished off strong with a 9.850, and ASU finished with a whopping 49.175, easily the best score in the meet.

The final rotation of the night had the Sun Devils on vault, which was their best event in the first meet of the season. Hogue opened up with a solid 9.850, followed by a 9.8 from Seaman. Salas notched a career high 9.875, and after a 9.765 from Kraus, Sundby closed out the night with a 9.850. ASU finished with a total of 49.050 on vault, tops in the meet.

In individual scoring, Perez took home the top score on floor with her career-high 9.875. Kraus tied for first place on uneven bars with the 9.875. Salas took second on vault with her 9.875, and Conrad, Hogue, and Perez combined with UW senior Aliza Vaccher to tie for second place on balance beam with scores of 9.8. Vaccher won the all-around title with a 39.275.

Ward said the win is huge for his team’s confidence.

“It’s week to week, but again the road score is the biggest thing, especially the first road meet of the year,” Ward said. “To get the three wins, to get the big score, it really helps confidence going forward.”

ASU’s next meet takes place at Wells Fargo Arena on Friday, Jan. 24 at 5 p.m. It’s part of the Beauty And The Beast event, where the gymnasts will be competing alongside the ASU wresting team, which is facing Boise State.

Reach the reporter at stheodor@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @shane_writes