A machine operates best when all of its cogs are at full efficiency; the same goes for a team. When one of those cogs – for ASU gymnastics, freshman Gilly Hogue – is missing, it makes it difficult to perform at the same level.
Add that to continued slip ups and you’ve painted the picture of No. 20 ASU gymnastics’ loss to UCLA 196.925-194.950.
Hogue, a key competitor on vault and balance beam, was out for the second meet in a row with back spasms. That impacted the Sun Devils on vault, as they only vaulted five athletes, and balance beam, where their last three athletes to compete all fell, marring what was otherwise a strong meet.
“Well we started out fantastic on three events, and the first three beam routines were amazing, and then it just slipped away at the end,” assistant coach Tom Ward said.
On balance beam – ASU’s last event of the day – freshman Beka Conrad led off for the Sun Devils. Her strong 9.700 set a good precendent for the Sun Devils, and after junior Morgan Steigerwalt’s impressive 9.825, sophomore Risa Perez ended a great routine with a solid landing to earn a 9.875. But the wheels fell off after that. Juniors Natasha Sundby and Brianna Gades, and sophomore Stephanie Miceli all fell on their routines as ASU limped to a 47.650 on the event.
ASU started on uneven bars, the event coach John Spini called its “biggest weakness” after last week’s meet against Utah. Perez, who missed the Utah meet with the stomach fly, returned and led off bars with a strong 9.800. Sophomore Kristine Levin followed with a 9.725, and after a 9.775 from Conrad, Miceli scored a strong 9.850. Sophomore Carissa Kraus closed out bars for ASU with an impressive 9.875 as the Sun Devils scored a collective 49.025 in the event. UCLA’s Samantha Peszek wowed with a perfect 10.000 on bars as UCLA scored a 49.525.
Due to Hogue’s absence, ASU only vaulted five athletes. Senior Samantha Seaman led off with a 9.800, followed by a 9.850 from Kraus. Sophomore Allie Salas vaulted a 9.775, and after Sundby’s 9.825, sophomore Erin Hamister finished off vault for ASU with a 9.725, bringing their total to 49.975, without the benefit of being able to discount one score. UCLA senior Olivia Courtney took first in vault, scoring a 9.925 as the Bruins scored a total of 49.225.
ASU third event was floor. Salas led off with a 9.750, and after Conrad’s strong 9.825, Seaman impressed with a 9.825. Steigerwalt earned a 9.850, and following a 9.875 from Perez, Sundby closed out a very strong event for ASU with a 9.925. The Sun Devils scored a collective 49.300 on floor, their highest score this season.
Looking ahead, ASU takes on BYU on Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena in the Pink Meet. The Sun Devils will try to continue to excel on vault, bars, and floor while looking to clean up their performances on beam.
When asked what needs to improve against the Cougars, Ward simply said “Balance beam.”
Reach the reporter firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @shane_writes