Gymnastics places fifth at Regionals, misses NCAA berth

The ASU women’s gymnastics team’s season ended quietly Saturday with a fifth place finish at the NCAA West Regional in Los Angeles.

But for one Sun Devil, the NCAA Championships await.

ASU junior Mary Atkinson scored a 39.075 and took the second of two all-around bids that didn’t come from a qualifying team, edging out UA sophomore Deanna Graham by just 0.050 points.

Atkinson posted the highest Sun Devil score on three of four events with a 9.825 on each, but she was in jeopardy of falling out of contention after a sub-par 9.600 on the balance beam.

“It feels great,” Atkinson said, according to ASU media relations. “It was a bit questionable for a bit there, because of beam, but I snuck in there.”

The junior’s national appearance in Gainesville, Fla., from April 22-24 will end a four-year drought where no Sun Devils made the NCAA Championships.

The last ASU gymnast to win a national championship was four-time All-American Ashley Kelly on the balance beam in 2004.

Saturday, however, did not bring similar results for the rest of the squad.

The Sun Devils (3-21) tallied a middle-of-the-road score of 193.900, finishing well behind the national qualifying scores of 197.825 and 196.675 posted by No. 3 UCLA and No. 9 Arkansas, respectively.

ASU failed to score over 194.000 for the third consecutive meet.

Despite staying on the balance beam for just the fourth time all season, the Sun Devils were forced to count a 9.225 miss by junior Carly McMahon on vault.

“We did very well as a team, even though the scores may not reflect that,” Atkinson said. “We went 6-for-6 on bars and beam, which I don’t think we have all season. I think we can hold our heads high coming out of this meet.”

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