ASU gymnastics looks to avenge last-place Pac-12 finish in 2013

Senior Sammie Seaman strikes her final pose during her floor routine at a home meet at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe. (Photo Courtesy of Arianna Grainey) Senior Sammie Seaman strikes her final pose during her floor routine at a home meet at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe. (Photo Courtesy of Arianna Grainey)

The 2014 regular season has come to a close for ASU gymnastics.

A season that saw long-time head coach John Spini and well-respected senior Sammie Seaman in their last meet at Wells Fargo Arena has reached the postseason, as ASU heads to Berkeley, Calif., on Saturday night to compete in the Pac-12 Championships.

Out of the 12 schools in the conference, the Pac-12 only fields eight gymnastics teams. So for the championship on Saturday, there are two separate meet times. While Utah, UCLA, Stanford and Oregon State will compete in the afternoon session, ASU, UA, Washington and host California will compete in the nighttime slot.

The Sun Devils have competed against every team in the meet this season except for Stanford. ASU beat UA, Washington and Cal while losing to Utah, UCLA and Oregon State. At UCLA on February 8, ASU was hanging neck and neck with the Bruins until three consecutive falls on balance beam shot down its upset bid.

Last year’s Pac-12s were one to forget for ASU. A team with little consistency, the Sun Devils fell to last in the 2013 Pac-12 Championships before rebounding to take third at their Regional Championship. The 2014 edition of the Gym Devils hopes to prevent a repeat of last year’s Pac-12s.

“This team is a completely different team than last year," assistant coach Tom Ward said. "We’re in the night session this year, which is a huge advantage than being in the afternoon session, so we’re excited for that opportunity.

"Hopefully the scoring is going to be big and we’re going to hit a lot of routines. We’re a lot more consistent this year than we have been in the past so hopefully that consistency will show up Saturday.”

When ASU has succeeded, like it did in meets against Pac-12 rivals UA, Cal and Washington, it has been able to stick multiple landings. In losses, those landings have been shaky at best.

“It’s going to go down to landings, like we’ve talked about all year, and everybody hitting routines. We can’t afford any misses," Ward said.

For ASU, the Pac-12 Championships are technically classified as a road meet, meaning it will count for its Regional Qualifying Score (RQS). A strong score Saturday would help ASU’s RQS improve and would give it better seeding for the upcoming Regional Championships.

“If we can score big, we’ll be able to drop the 194.95 (scored against UCLA) off of our RQS, which is kind of holding us back right now," Ward said. "If we can replace that with a 196.000 on Saturday, we will move up. That will help our seeding for Regionals.”

The Pac-12 Championships will take place Saturday in Berkeley, Calif., at 7 p.m. Arizona time. The meet will be nationally televised on the Pac-12 Networks.

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