ASU gymnastics earns highest score since 2006 in a victory over Cal

The 196.800-194.850 victory marks the third consecutive meet where the Sun Devils scored 196+ points

The No. 14 ASU women’s gymnastics team returned home for its Pac-12 home opener on Sunday in hopes of of continuing its win streak against Cal. The Sun Devils reached their highest total since 2006 with a 196.800-194.850 victory over Cal. 

The Sun Devils opened up the meet on vault. Freshman Cairo Leonard-Baker and junior Morgan Wilson led the Sun Devils with scores of 9.850. Cal junior Sylvie Seilnacht led overall with a 9.900 on vault.

Heading into the second rotation, the Sun Devils earned an impressive season-high 49.325 on bars with a rotation filled with career highs. Leonard-Baker led with a 9.950, a career high, and senior Nichelle Christopherson followed close behind with a 9.875, which tied her career high.

Cal freshman Nina Schank earned a 9.900 on bars with her teammate, senior Toni-Ann Williams earning a 9.850.

Carrying the lead to the third rotation, the Sun Devils took to the beam, where they dipped in performance compared to the previous meet against Stanford when they earned a 49.325. ASU was still able to put up an impressive performance with a 49.125, which was led by sophomore Ashley Szafranski with a 9.875. She was followed closely by Leonard-Baker and Christopherson, both of whom scored 9.850.

The Sun Devils moved to the floor with a .475 lead over the Bears. While the Sun Devils earned career and season highs on the floor, it was the Bears who led all with an remarkable 9.975 by Williams. Leonard-Baker once again led the Sun Devils in that rotation with a 9.925.

In the end, ASU outlasted Cal 196.800-194.850. This marks the third consecutive meet that the team earned over a 196. Head coach Jay Santos spoke on the team's performance after the meet.

“It feels great – we’re having fun, and we’re continuing to build,” Santos said. “We’re at the point where we’re a little less worried about it and starting to enjoy it a little bit more.”

Leonard-Baker who tied in all-around with Williams noted how great it feels to be succeeding so early in her career.

“It feels really good, especially with this team, because I love everyone so much,” Leonard-Baker said. "It’s nice knowing everyone has your back and everyone’s there, and our team is doing well too. It’s nice that I'm a part of that.”

Coach Santos said that while Leonard-Baker is a driving force in this teams success, it’s important to note how the team has performed as a group.

“They came out on fire, really doing the things we talked about all week,” Santos said.

Christopherson said that the success the team has had all comes down to preparation.

“I just kept trying to tell people like, 'we’ve had the preparation.' We worked so hard in preseason and we’re ready,” Christopherson said. “When it comes down to it, we can do everything. We don’t have to worry about (the) physical aspect anymore – it's all about the mental side. So if we can get that taken care of, we can do anything.”

The Sun Devils hope to continue their win streak on Saturday, Feb. 3, where they will travel to Corvallis to take on Oregon State at 3:30 p.m.

Reach the reporter at or follow @KellyB1459 on Twitter. 

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