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Gymnastics launched into success after first win against Utah since 2003

Two big wins last week have propelled the Gym Devils to No. 15 in national rankings

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ASU junior gymnast Jada Mangahas throwing up the fork on the floor at Desert Financial Arena on Friday Jan. 20, 2023. ASU lost to Stanford 196.225-196.050.

The Gym Devils have had a tremendous stretch of meets, jumping ahead in the national rankings and preparing for the last couple of meets of the season.  

The team has had its fair share of wins and losses this season with an overall record of 6-5. They came out on top in their rivalry meet against the University of Arizona, with an overall score of 196.800 to 196.475. They came close to winning against UCLA but slipped behind with a 196.900 to UCLA's 197.800. Before last week, this was the season high overall score for the Gym Devils. 

However, the Gym Devils rose to No. 15 in the national rankings after they defeated No. 4 Utah Utes 197.550 to 197.500 last week. This was the team's first victory over Utah since 2003.  

"We’ve been building and growing and continuing to make progress over and over the last couple of years," head coach Jay Santos said. "It’s not really that one moment as much as a culmination of a whole lot of work and effort that’s gone over time." 

There were some notable accomplishments in the meet against Utah, with senior Hannah Scharf setting a career high of 9.975 on bars and an all-around career high with a 39.675. Junior Anaya Smith won the vault with a 9.900. Freshman Kimberly Smith made her collegiate debut on beam. 

"We kind of just felt it was time, (Kimberly Smith) has been working really hard to get to that moment." Santos said. "We’re into a point of the season where we gotta start playing with some things and giving some opportunities before we get into the postseason." 

Kimberly Smith scored a 9.800 on her beam routine against Utah and set a career-high against Washington with a 9.850. 

The win over Utah brought some fresh confidence to the team after dealing with injuries and coaching changes throughout the season.

"We came off a big win, and we didn’t want to have like a win hangover and not do as good the next week," Anaya Smith said. "We kind of like just coming back and focusing on the details, and trying to fix whatever we need to work on, and coming back with confidence and going after everything."

Later that week, the Gym Devils defeated Washington, landing their best true road score in program history with 197.475. Scharf won the all-around with a 39.625, and Anaya Smith won the vault with a 9.900 again. 

The Gym Devils have two more meets before the Pac-12 Championships, which will take place on Saturday, March 18 in Utah. They’ll compete against Oklahoma and Oregon State, who are No. 1 and No. 11 respectively in the national rankings.

Scharf believes working on the little things will continue to add up significantly for the team. 

"The small details definitely add up to big scores," Scharf said. "So zoning in on those small details. I think we definitely made improvements from Utah to Washington so that was really great that we were able to make changes." 

Scharf’s performance in the past week has earned her the Pac-12 Coaches Choice of the Week, the second coach honor of her career. She plans to return for a fifth year with the team. 

"I’m really proud of everybody. We dealt with a lot of adversity this season and in the preseason," Scharf said. "We definitely could have crumbled under that but I think that we’re really thriving right now." 

The next meet for the Gym Devils is Saturday, March 4, against Oregon State at the Desert Financial Arena. It's also their senior day, and the meet will honor the efforts of the five seniors on the team. 

Edited by Walker Smith and Caera Learmonth.

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