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ASU gymnastics preps for pivotal NCAA Regionals en route to championships

After another successful season in the books, the Gym Devils look to keep their season alive at the NCAA regionals

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The gymnastics team celebrated becoming Pac-12 co-champions on Feb. 20, 2022 against UCLA at Desert Financial Arena. 

The ASU gymnastics team will head to Norman, Oklahoma on Thursday to compete in the NCAA Regionals, looking to build off yet another winning season.

The Gym Devils' path to success this season was not a straight line. They started the season on the road against No.1 Michigan and No. 2 Utah. While they ultimately lost those two meets, the Gym Devils fought against top-ranked schools and knew that could only benefit them in the long run.

"We love to go against those top teams," said co-head coach Jessica Santos. "I think it makes our team stronger. We really rise up in those moments against those bigger teams so it just makes us better."

The Gym Devils were 2-3 at the midpoint of the season, but found their way back. The team proceeded to go on a three-match winning streak as the Gym Devils defeated No. 20 Stanford and No. 15 UCLA.

The hot stretch to end the season helped ASU tie for the Pac-12 Regular Season Title for the first time in program history with a record of 6-4 for the overall season and 5-2 for conference games. All season long, the Gym Devils were dominant as the team scored 196 points or more in every meet but one.

"I think our regular season went really well," Santos said. “We had a lot of big milestones as far as big conference wins and obviously the regular season championship. There are a lot of things that we have been striving for. I do think we could have been a bit more consistent in a few of those meets but we hit our stride at the end of the season, and it was fun to see the way that finished."

Many gymnasts picked up individual achievements along the way. Junior standout Hannah Scharf had an outstanding season, as she had 16 instances with a 9.9-plus score and has only scored below a 9.800 five times all season. Through her play, Scharf earned WCGA Regular Season All-America honors for the second team.

"Hannah is such a rock, she is so solid, so consistent, she works really hard to have that success in the gym," Santos said. "It's a lot of mental toughness, especially on beam and floor to anchor. To see her stay in the top 16 and win the All-American award for all-around I know was a really big deal for her."

Another notable ASU gymnast to break the scene this season was freshman Alex Theodorou. In her first year with the Gym Devils, Theodorou has won three event titles on vault, as well as five scores of 9.9 or better on vault. Along with Scharf, Theodorou earned All-Pac-12 First Team honors, which is impressive for a young freshman.

"We knew coming in the door Alex would be a really strong vaulter for us," Santos said. "To see what she did as a freshman while she was a junior Olympic athlete has been phenomenal and we are going to see a lot more of her as she continues to grow and learn."

During the upcoming regionals, the Gym Devils will be competing as a part of the Norman Regional, which includes No. 1 Oklahoma, Minnesota, California, Arkansas, Boise State, Utah State, Arizona and West Virginia. The top two teams to make it out of each session will advance to the following round.

"If you look at the top four teams, California is one of them, and we beat them earlier this year. Minnesota is a fantastic team, they were at regionals last year, but I really think we got it," Santos said. "We got the difficulty, we got the execution, the scoring potential, so we just have to focus on us."

The first round will consist of two teams in a play-in meet, the second round will consist of eight teams in two sessions and the regional final will include four teams.

The Gym Devils look for success in regionals, as a trip to the National Championship taking place from April 16-17 in Fort Worth, Texas, is on the line.

"It comes down to how our team executes putting a clean meet together and no major mistakes," Santos said. "If we are playing like we did the back half of the season, then we are going to put ourselves in a really good position."

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