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ASU gymnastics captures monumental victory over UA

Led by freshman phenom Cairo Leonard-Baker, the Sun Devils burned the Wildcats by a full point


ASU junior Kaitlyn Szafranski competes on the bars during a meet against Arizona at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Arizona, on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018.

The No. 17 Sun Devils rounded out their final home meet against rival Wildcats of the University of Arizona. In a sweep across all events, ASU knocked out UA 196.725-195.025, capturing a crucial Territorial Cup point.

The last time these two teams met during the regular season, the Sun Devils stunned the Wildcats 195.700-195.375. This time, with the meet taking place at Wells Fargo, the Sun Devils had the same result. 

The Sun Devils began the afternoon on vault with junior Anne Kuhm earning 9.90. Kuhm’s score led all gymnasts, with the closest score coming from freshman Cairo Leonard-Baker and Wildcat senior Madison Cindric earning 9.850. The Sun Devils earned their season-best on vault with a 49.125, which helped push them to a 49.125 -49.000 lead over the Wildcats.

Kuhm said she felt happy with her overall performance, noting that it was the work that went in prior to the meet that pushed her towards the two career-highs she earned. 

“I was just trying to do what I do every day in practice because we do our routine a hundred times so we know how to do it,” Kuhm said. “We just need to be doing exactly the same thing and today it was a good day so I’m happy.”

As the Sun Devils moved to bars, juniors Justine Callis and Kaitlyn Szafranski earned career highs with scores of 9.775. Both Kuhm and Wildcat junior Danielle Spencer earned 9.825’s – tying for second place in the rotation. Leonard-Baker may have rounded out the rotation, but ended up in front of all gymnasts with a 9.875. 

The Sun Devils moved to the beam for their third rotation, and were hoping to top the 49.075 score they earned against Washington last weekend. They were able to conquer the beam with the help of Callis’ career high 9.900. Sophomore Ashley Szafranski followed close behind with a unique routine including a front aerial and her signature Rulfova. 

The routine earned her a 9.875 and helped the Sun Devils improve their final beam score by a full .100 points. This improvement gave them a 147.325-146.850 lead heading into the final rotation.

The Sun Devils excelled on floor once again with Leonard-Baker leading all gymnasts with a 9.950. Following close behind, Kuhm notched a career-high 9.925. Their performances together helped the Sun Devils to a 196.725-195.025 victory.

Leonard-Baker talked about the importance of a win like this heading into their final road trips prior to the Pac-12 tournament.

“It feels really good knowing we’re going in strong, because I know last season they didn't do the best, so this season to know that we’re all much more confident going into Pac-12's ending on a win like this, especially against U of A,” Leonard-Baker said.

Coach Jay Santos said it was the fine details that pushed the team to victory – something they had focused on after their loss to Washington a week prior.

“We stuck a couple more landings today than we did last week," Santos said. "It was just those small details on a couple of those routines that we’ve been kind of hammering on them in practice and really working them, and we saw some of those details today so I think they did a phenomenal job."

The Sun Devils hope to continue their success as they head to Minneapolis, MN., for a meet on Saturday, March 3 against Minnesota.

Reach the reporter at or follow @KellyBSays on Twitter. 

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