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Gymnastics hoping to rebound at NCAA Regionals

The streak lives on.

Once again, the ASU  gymnastics team garnered a NCAA Regional Championship berth as one of the top 36 squads in the nation.

For those of you who lost count, that makes 29 straight years.

Even more astounding, the NCAA has only sanctioned gymnastics for 29 years.

ASU’s streak was in question after a disastrous performance at the Pac-10 Championships in Tucson on March 27.

“I have been angry with myself,” ASU coach John Spini said. “I’m the head of the program, and I’m responsible. I don’t like to look like that ever. I don’t think I ever put a team on the floor that has done that [badly], and I don’t plan on doing it again.”

The Sun Devils (2-17) dropped from No. 29 to No. 32 nationally after tallying a, by far, season-low score of 190.675 at the Pac-10 Championships.

The team did not want to be remembered as the first ASU squad not to make Regionals.

“Basically, we just want to show that that’s not us, that it was a fluke thing,” junior Brittany Schuett said. “[The bus ride from Tucson to Tempe] was rough. It was very quiet. That was our ultimate low for the season, but you have to learn from it andmove on.”

Six teams will compete in Los Angeles on Saturday at the West Regional.

No. 3 UCLA, No. 9 Arkansas, No. 17 Iowa State, No. 21 UA, Brigham Young and ASU are seeded one through six, respectively.

ASU has faced three of the five teams in its regular season.

“UCLA is a very strong team with the highest score in the nation coming out of the conference meets — they are going to be very tough,” Spini said. “BYU, if we would have stayed on beam we would have done better at that meet, and we were very competitive with Arizona — we just fell off the beam too.”

The Sun Devils are a combined 0-5 against UCLA, BYU and UA this year.

“I’m just demanding we compete better — a realistic finish for us is third place,” Spini said. “Our goals are to leave the meet knowing we did everything we can and to make sure we can hold our heads much higher than we did leaving the Pac-10’s.”

The teams with the top two scores will advance to the NCAA National Championships in Gainesville, Fla., at the University of Florida.

“We have to show what we are capable of,” Schuett said. “We hit such a low point last weekend that it has only brought us closer together, so we’re going to build it back up together and attack it as a team this time.”

If ASU fails to finish in the top two places, individual Sun Devils can still qualify for Nationals by finishing in the top two places among non-qualifying schools on any event or the all-around.

Junior Mary Atkinson is ASU’s best hope, as she is currently ranked No. 23 in the all-around.

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