The ASU gymnastics squad touched down in Pittsburgh Wednesday afternoon to take on the NCAA Regionals and hit another meeting.
The Sun Devils were given a No. 15 seed last Monday on the 2023 NCAA women's gymnastics selection show to sneak into the field of 36 teams. They will compete in the second session on Friday against No. 2 Florida, Maryland and Penn State. Only two teams from the session will advance to the Regional Finals, along with two other squads from session one, which includes No. 7 California, No. 10 Michigan State, Western Michigan and West Virginia.
ASU hasn’t seen any of these schools except for California during the regular season, so head coach Jay Santos doesn't know much about them. But this won't change anything they've done all season.
"Florida’s one of the top teams in the country. I’ve seen some scores and things like that, but I haven’t seen the gymnastics,” Santos said. “Our focus is continuing to be the details, going out and doing what we have control over."
The team has been utilizing its strengths all season. The team went 7-6 overall and 4-3 in Pac-12, and came out on top against some strong teams, notably Utah and Oregon State. The Sun Devils had a season-high score of 197.725, the ninth-highest score in ASU history. The team also had eight scores of 9.95-plus, the most in a single season since 2006.
"We’ve got a lot of experience. They’ve got a lot of confidence right now. They’re doing gymnastics at a high level, so I think all those things they can use this weekend and build off of," Santos said.
One of ASU gymnastics' strengths this season has been the team dynamic and teammates' connections with each other. These connections have helped them compete more successfully. Seven different gymnasts contributed to the Sun Devils' 29 event titles this season.
"Something we did before our last meet is we thanked each other and told each other what we were proud of this season," junior Emily White said. "Remembering those things and carrying them into the meet, and carrying that energy and vibe will be really helpful for us."
White is a strength herself for the Sun Devils. She continues to reach new heights in her career, scoring a career-high 9.950 on the balance beam at the Pac-12 Championships. She also won the floor event against Oregon State with another 9.950.
She’s also competed with the team in the regionals the previous two seasons.
"Regionals can be a very nerve-wracking competition. It’s a big stage, and you’re competing against a lot of high-level teams at once," White said. "But I’ve learned that it just ends up being a really fun experience to have with the team, so staying in the moment, focusing on your normal gymnastics, and not getting too overwhelmed is important."
This is a high-intensity meet for the seniors as well, who want to make the most of their last seasons.
Senior Jordyn Jaslow believes this season has been the most fun year with everything the team has accomplished.
"I’m just going into regionals really grateful and really proud of everything that we’ve accomplished, and I think our hard work all season really just continued to build, and I’m excited for that to show at regionals," Jaslow said.
Another recent accomplishment for the team was Santo’s Pac-12 Coach of the Year title. It’s his second time earning the title, the first dating back to the 2018 season. Santos recognizes it is a group effort.
"It’s voted on by the coaches, so it’s being voted on by my peers and people that I respect," Santos said. "There are a lot of good coaches doing a lot of great things in the Pac-12. So, the fact that they chose to recognize me this year feels great."
The gymnasts use this competition to be with each other and compete in another meet together, even on a larger scale.
"I’m just expecting us to go out there and build off of what we’ve done all season, just do our normal gymnastics, and have a lot of fun like we’ve been doing," White said.
If they do this, the postseason looks hopeful for the team.
"I know that this team will go at regionals with lots of confidence and just have fun and have the goal of doing it together, doing it for the person next to them," Jaslow said. "If we do just that, and we are united at regionals, then I’ll walk out; however, it ends up proud of everyone."
The ASU gymnastics team will compete in the second session on Friday at 4 p.m. MST on ESPN+.
Edited by Walker Smith, Greta Forslund and Grace Copperthite.
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