A Sun Devil's guide to gymnastics

Are you thinking about going to your first gymnastics meet? Here's a basic guide to understanding the format of the non-interactive sport.

Congratulations! You’ve decided to attend an ASU meet for a sport that doesn’t have much viewership aside from children who dream of being Olympic gymnasts.

Now what do you do?

Four events will take place over the next two hours. You’ll see a flurry of jumping, flipping and dancing, a little bit of falling and maybe even a dab or two.

The two teams don’t actually interact, a departure from the typical sport that has direct competition. Instead of facing off on the bar or the beam, the players individually score points for their team. At the end, the scores are compared. The highest individual score wins, and the team with the most total points is the champion of the meet.

Eleven players compete for each team. Two athletes do every event — these competitors are called the all-around — and the others can compete in one, two or three of the events.

The two schools begin at different stations. This is called a rotation.

In the first rotation of ASU vs. Washington, the Sun Devils started at vault. In simple terms, this is the long blue carpet in which the athletes run down before jumping and propelling themselves up to a flip.

Washington began their evening at the bars, a staple of gymnast Nastia Liukin and "Stick It."

After the rotation — and senior Taylor Allex’s 9.900 on vault (pictured above) — concluded, the schools moved to the next event. ASU went to bars and Washington went to the floor, which is a quasi-dance routine that includes gymnastic feats that I can’t dream of achieving physically.

The floor routine portion is long, giving the other school enough time to do two events in the same time frame. While Washington began to catch up to ASU, the Gym Devils did bar and the balance beam.

The two schools rotated again. ASU moved to the floor and the Huskies went to vault and bar.

Because of this, the scores remain close until the final contestants.

However, this late in the meet, a two-point difference is deadly. Most scores hover between 9.5 - 9.7, meaning an 8.150 (like senior Carissa Kraus on bars) and 8.875 (freshman Eileen Imbus) early could prove deadly. ASU gymnasts fell four times, something that head coach René Lyst expressed disappointment in after the meet. Because of this, the Gym Devils lost by two points.

At the end, the gymnasts line up on the floor for the awards ceremony. The individual awards are announced, and then the placement of the teams. The recipient stands, waves, receives a flower from Sparky and sits back down.

You’ll depart, still in awe of the feats the athletes could perform, the heights they could jump and the complexity of the flips. Finally, you’ll be glad you attended a sporting event that you typically wouldn’t think about going to.

Related Links:

Mistakes set ASU gymnastics back in Pac-12 opener

ASU gymnastics freshman to make Pac-12 debuts

Reach the sports editor at logan.newman@asu.edu or follow @Logan_Newsman on Twitter.

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