When you take on a perennial national contender who is ranked No. 4 in the nation, your work is already cut out for you. If you lose nearly a quarter of your team to injury and illness, prospects look bleak. That’s what happened last Saturday when ASU gymnastics lost to Utah at Wells Fargo Arena 197.200-194.900.
Freshman Gilly Hogue and sophomore Risa Perez, who make up five of ASU’s 24 routines, fell victim to stomach flu and back spasms, respectively, and were last-minute scratches from the lineup. The absence of Hogue and Perez hurt the Sun Devils against the Utes, as both replacements fell on balance beam.
“I think it was difficult, because (Hogue and Perez) are really important to our team,” assistant coach Hollie Vise said. “They’re very calm competitors and kids that we don’t really have to worry about. … I think the team reacted very well to the changes and the backups did well, but we need to be ready at all times in case someone goes down.”
Against Utah, the Sun Devils scored a 48.625 on bars. Balance beam, another event ASU has had trouble with, started out well, with two 9.8s and a 9.825. But the replacement gymnasts on beam fell and ASU limped to a 48.300.
Saturday, Feb. 8, No. 20 ASU travels to Los Angeles to take on UCLA. While not quite on the level of Utah, the Bruins are no team to scoff at either. They are ranked just five spots behind Utah at No. 9 in the nation with a high score of 196.625, compared to ASU’s high of 196.000.
“I think they’re not the team that Utah is,” coach John Spini said. “They’re a great team, they’re another top team, but I think Utah shines on vault. I think we can stay with (UCLA).”
The meet will take place Saturday at UCLA at 12:30 p.m. PST. Normally available to watch via live stream, the meet will be televised nationally on the Pac-12 Networks.
“UCLA is always a great team, but I think we’re ready. If we can go out there and just hit our routines we can stay right with them,” Vise said. “Our team is good. We just need to hit, and we’re hoping to have (Perez and Hogue) back in the lineup. But if we don’t have one of them we’ll be good. Our girls are ready to go.”
Reach the reporter firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @shane_writes