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Atkinson places ninth on vault at the 2010 NCAA Championships

April 26, 2010

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Arizona State University's Mary Atkinson capped her successful junior campaign with a ninth place finish on vault at the 2010 NCAA Championships, held at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center. Atkinson, a native of Chesapeake, Va., scored 9.7625 to conclude her first experience at the NCAA Championship.

"I am very proud of Mary," said 30th year head coach John Spini. "I think it was hard for her to compete without her team here but she did great. We were excited for her to make it vault finals and to become an All-American."

Atkinson reached the event finals after tying for third during the preliminaries with a career-best 9.9. The top four in each event advance on to the event finals. Atkinson earned ASU's 81st All-American honor for her performance. This is the 16th time a Sun Devil has earned All-American honors on vault and first since Ashley Kelly in 2004.

"It was a great experience and I want to be back next year, hopefully with the team," said Atkinson.

As the first overall competitor of the evening, Atkinson had a hop forward on her first vault. Her second vault ended not so nicely as she slipped on the runway and fell over to the side while still attempting to vault.

"Going first was no ideal. I was nervous, but someone has to start," said Atkinson. "My first vault was ok, not my best by any means. On the second one I ran too hard, stumbled on the runway, my legs gave way and I fell to the side."

She did not end her first NCAA experience with that mishap; however, as due to a rule regarding a gymnast being allowed three attempts to go over the table. Since she technically went to the side rather than over the vault, she was awarded a third attempt. This did not get settled until the end of the vault flight and thus she had to wait until the end of the night to give it another go.

This time, Atkinson performed a solid layout Arabian, moving her from 18th to a top-10 finish.

"I was happy to be able to vault again," said Atkinson. "I wanted to end my first Nationals experience on a positive note and wanted to show my second vault that I practiced so hard on."

UCLA's Vanessa Zamarripa won vault while her teammate Brittany McCullough took the floor exercise title. Stanford's Carly Janiga was the gold medalist on the uneven bars and LSU's Susan Jackson was first on the balance beam. The Sun Devils faced all four competitors earlier this season. UCLA won the team title last night while Jackson was the champion in the all-around.