In collegiate gymnastics, there’s a short list of elite programs, followed by a long list of good programs. ASU has long been one of the latter, with various gymnasts throughout the year climbing to that elite level.
Saturday, the Sun Devils visited Corvallis, Ore., to take on No. 14 Oregon State and No. 7 Nebraska. When push came to shove Saturday evening, the Cornhuskers showed why they’re considered one of those few elite programs, scoring a 196.650 to just squeak by Oregon State and take first place on the Beavers’ Senior Night.
Oregon State came in second with a 196.625 and ASU finished in third with a 195.575. The Sun Devils were without freshman Gilly Hogue, who hurt her Achilles tendon in warmups and will miss at least the next meet versus Oklahoma. ASU was also missing vault specialist Erin Hamister, who missed her second straight meet.
“We performed very well. Unfortunately we had an injury tonight to Gilly Hogue, but the team rallied and had a great meet,” assistant coach Tom Ward said.
ASU started out on uneven bars. Sophomore Risa Perez opened up with a 9.750, followed by a 9.775 from sophomore Kristine Levin and a 9.750 from freshman Beka Conrad. ASU got strong routines from junior Brianna Gades and sophomore Carissa Kraus, as Gades scored a 9.800 and Kraus a 9.875. ASU ended the first rotation with a 48.950. Four gymnasts, three from Oregon State and one from Nebraska, scored 9.900’s on uneven bars.
The second event of the night had ASU tackling the balance beam. After a 9.725 from Conrad, a fall from junior Morgan Steigerwalt cast an early shadow over ASU, but her teammates stepped up. Perez tied her career-high with a 9.875, and after Gades scored a 9.850, sophomore Stephanie Miceli also tied her career-high with a 9.875. The last gymnast to compete on beam for ASU was freshman Savannah Borman, who made her collegiate debut in place of Hogue. With the pressure of erasing an earlier fall, Borman came through for ASU and scored a 9.775. ASU’s total on balance beam was a 49.100, a season-high. Nebraska senior Emily Wong won the balance beam with a 9.925, followed by Nebraska junior Jessie DeZiel with a 9.900 and Oregon State senior Cerise Witherby with a 9.875.
“(Borman) competed with steel blood,” coach Ward said. “It was amazing. She looked very confident up there and there was a lot of pressure on her in that anchor position, especially with that fall.”
Next on the night for ASU was floor exercise. A slip on her second pass hurt the opening routine from sophomore Allie Salas. Both Conrad and Seaman scored 9.675’s on their floor routines, and after a 9.750 from Steigerwalt and 9.725 for Perez, junior Natasha Sundby rounded out the event with a 9.850. ASU’s total on floor was 48.725. Wong won floor exercise with a 9.900, followed by four 9.850’s including Sundby.
The last rotation of the meet had the Sun Devils on vault, the event they start out on at home meets. Missing Hamister, ASU only vaulted five athletes. Conrad rounded out her all-around night with a 9.675 vault, followed by a strong 9.825 from Kraus. Salas scored a 9.675, and after a 9.825 from Seaman, Sundby ended the meet with a 9.800. ASU’s total on vault was a 48.800. Wong won her third event with a 9.925 on vault, followed by Oregon State junior Taylor Keeker and Nebraska sophomore Hollie Blanske with 9.900.
Having just completed their third road meet of the season, ASU is eligible again to be ranked, and will likely return to the top 25. Things don’t get easier next week though, as the Sun Devils will travel to Norman, Okla., to take on No. 2 Oklahoma.
“We had very strong landings,” Ward said. We’ve got to get a little more on floor, and keep working on our fine tuning, but our bars was excellent this weekend, and our landings showed it. So we’re hoping we can do it (in Norman).”
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