ASU gymnastics returns home, looks to end skid against BYU

Injury and illness have held ASU gymnastics back in its last two meets against Utah and UCLA. Now the Sun Devils look to put those meets behind them as they return home to Wells Fargo Arena to take on the Cougars of BYU.

“We just need to stick our landings and improve on the balance beam and we’ll be in good shape,” assistant coach Tom Ward said.

In the meet two weeks ago versus Utah, ASU was stricken by two last minute lineup replacements. Freshman Gilly Hogue was forced to leave with back spasms suffered in practice, and sophomore Risa Perez had come down with the stomach flu, keeping her out of the meet. That forced five lineup spots to be replaced, which led to a disappointing outing for the Sun Devils.

 
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Last week in Los Angeles, Perez returned from her illness to compete on uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise. Hogue remained out, forcing two replacement spots in the lineup.

In the UCLA meet, the Gym Devils scored a season-high on floor exercise with a 49.300. ASU fell from No. 20 in the nation to No. 22 following the defeat.

ASU’s backups fared well in their events, with the exception of gymnasts on balance beam. ASU was well on its way to a 196 or higher but its last three athletes to compete on beam fell, marring what was otherwise a very competitive meet.

After the UCLA meet, coaches emphasized the importance of improving on the balance beam, as they’ve been plagued with falls. The first three competitors scored high, but uncharacteristic falls from sophomore Stephanie Miceli and junior Brianna Gades followed by a fall by junior replacement Natasha Sundby hurt the Sun Devils.

BYU has struggled this season and is currently not ranked in the top 25. Still, its highest collective score of the season is a strong 196.425, which the Cougars scored Jan. 31 at Denver. ASU’s highest score of the season came at home Jan. 24 versus California, when it scored 195.825.

“When we have everyone healthy and competing, we know we can hang with any team in the nation,” Perez said.

The meet against BYU, Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena at 7 p.m., will be ASU’s Pink Meet, held in support of Breast Cancer Awareness. There will be a fan contest, team autographs and giveaway items.

The season is winding down for ASU, as the Sun Devils are approaching the Pac-12 Championships. After this week’s meet versus BYU, ASU hosts Arizona, then travels to Corvallis for a tri-meet. Matchups with Oklahoma and Northern Illinois follow before the Pac-12 Championships on March 22.

Reach the reporter sthedor@asu.edu or follow him on twitter @shane_writes