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Gymnastics posts season-high score in loss to Utah

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OH SO CLOSE: Stephanie Hangartner remains suspended midair during her balance beam routine during Saturday's meet against Utah. The Sun Devils scored a season-high of 195.700, although they could not match the 196.475 delivered by the Utes. (Photo by Michael Arellano)

ASU gymnastics coach John Spini, assistant coach Kari Ward and sophomore Stephanie Hangartner all cited one intangible the team showed Friday evening for the first time all season.


The No. 26 Sun Devils fell to No. 4 Utah Friday evening 196.475-195.700, but posted their highest mark of the season by eight-tenths of a point.

“I told [the team], ‘We hit a meet — we haven’t done that in two years. Your work is paying off, [so] keep it up,”’ Spini said.

For the Sun Devils (1-6), Friday was easily their best team performance of the year.

“The kids are really starting to believe in what they’re doing,” Spini said. “This really energizes us, because this is what we’ve been preaching: stay patient, it’ll come.”

ASU was also able to reach its season-high score without freshman Tina Salavec because of an injury.

Needless to say, some new faces needed to rise to the occasion.

Enter Stephanie Hangartner.

In her first all-around performance of her collegiate career, Hangartner hit each of her four routines.

“Stephanie stepped up for us big,” Spini said. “She had a 9.900 start value on vault, and goes 9.800. It was huge.

Combined with Hangartner, the Sun Devils opened the meet with a season-high 49.025 on vault and led the Utes (4-1) after the first rotation.

On the uneven bars, ASU struggled at times, and surrendered the lead for good to Utah.

The Sun Devils biggest improvement was made on the balance beam. ASU has struggled mightily throughout the year and lost most of its meets on the event.

But Friday was different.

“I told them, ‘nobody else is in the arena but you,’” assistant coach Kari Ward said. “It’s the same four inches it is at our [practice] gym.”

ASU senior Kaitlynn Bormann led off the rotation with a 9.800.

“[I was] very pleased with her,” Spini said. “She hit three events. She hadn’t done that ever here, and that’s huge for our senior.”

ASU junior Francesca Mercurio didn’t have the same success following Bormann.

“We take a fall on our second routine, and then our kid who hasn’t been out there all year, [ASU sophomore] Kelly Reilly, has a great routine for us,” Spini said.

The Sun Devils tallied three career-highs during the rotation and shattered their previous season-high total by almost eight-tenths of a point.

“We hit it really well,” Hangartner said. “We will definitely keep our confidence up, and hopefully we will continue to succeed.”

On floor, ASU continued to surprise doubters by throwing up yet another season-best score of 49.025. ASU sophomore Madison Snowden put up a 9.850 in her first event of the year.

The best stat of the night for the Sun Devils was that for the first time all year, ASU was not forced to count a single fall in its score.

“Didn’t I tell you [Utah coach Greg] Marsden brings out the best in me?” Spini joked.

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