ASU gymnastics scores season-high against BYU

Gilly Hogue strikes a pose during her beam routine. Gilly was back after having sat out the last two weeks due to back spasms. (Photo by Arianna Grainey)

Freshman Gilly Hogue strikes a pose during her beam routine at a home meet on Feb. 15. Gilly returned after having sat out the last two weeks due to back spasms. (Photo Courtesy of Arianna Grainey)

After two performances affected by injury and illness, the ASU gymnastics team was in full form as they went against BYU, prevailing 196.200-194.525.

It’s the highest score that ASU’s achieved thus far in the 2014 season, besting their previous high from the Jan. 24 meet versus Cal, in which they scored a 196.000.

The key in this meet was the return of freshman Gilly Hogue, who missed the last two meets against Utah and UCLA with back spasms.

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“I was really pleased with the energy of the team and how we’ve been training throughout,” coach John Spini said. “I’m just real happy that they’re staying focused and doing what they’re doing in the gym. There’s a lot of positive energy on our team right and they’re starting to believe in themselves, so I think that’s the key getting to the backside of the season.”

Sophomore Carissa Kraus attributed ASU’s high score to its positive attitude.

“I think we just stayed super positive the whole time,” Kraus said. “We started off strong on vault, we kept our energy up on bars. Our beam was amazing, any time we do well on beam we know things are going to go well for us. Every girl showed up today.”

Senior Sammie Seaman led off the first vault for ASU with an emphatic 9.800. Sophomore Allie Salas followed with a 9.825, and Kraus scored the highest vault of the night with a 9.900, igniting Wells Fargo Arena with cheers. Junior Natasha Sundby scored a 9.850, and after sophomore Erin Hamister fell, sophomore Kristine Levin rounded out the vault with a 9.600. Counting the fall, ASU’s total on vault was a 48.975.

After the loss to Utah, Spini said that the uneven bars were ASU’s “biggest weakness.” Against BYU, that wasn’t the case.

Sophomore Risa Perez, who missed the Utah meet with illness, led off on bars and scored a 9.800. Levin earned a 9.775, and freshman Beka Conrad scored a strong 9.825. Sophomore Stephanie Micelli earned a 9.725, and Kraus scored a 9.825. Junior Brianna Gades scored the highest score of the meet with a 9.875, as ASU totaled a 49.100.

“I love what we’re doing on bars. I think that’s still on paper as weak,” Spini said. “I don’t we’ve had a lot of beam issues, other than we’ve been sick … With that said the team is really believing in themselves. I think we have to work hard on bars to get where we want and we’re doing that.”

The other event that ASU has struggled with is on balance beam. Against UCLA, three falls on beam tarnished an overall performance that would have warranted a score in the high 196s.

Saturday against BYU, ASU erased those falls. Conrad led off with a 9.775, and in return from injury, Hogue scored a 9.800. Junior Morgan Steigerwalt scored a 9.800, followed by a 9.775 from Perez. Gades scored another meet high with 9.875, and Micelli ended the meet with a 9.775. ASU’s total on balance beam was a strong 49.025, and they led headed into floor.

On floor, Salas opened up with a 9.775 for ASU. Micelli scored a 9.650, and following a 9.825 from Seaman, Steigerwalt earned a 9.875. Perez and Sundby rounded out the score with a 9.850 and 9.775 as ASU totaled a 49.100 on floor.

ASU will try to take this momentum into the rivalry meet next week against UA, at Wells Fargo Arena at 4 p.m.

“If we keep training just the way that we’ve been we’ll do great. We competed amazing this weekend and we’ll be even more hyped next weekend,” Kraus said.

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