Atkinson qualifies for NCAA Championships
Mary Atkinson qualified for the NCAA Championships as an individual as the Arizona State women's gymnastics team placed fifth at the NCAA West Regional. The Sun Devils, who earned a sixth seed to regionals, scored 193.9. UCLA, the host, won the event with a 197.825. UCLA and Arkansas will advance to the NCAA Championships while Atkinson will join Iowa State's Michelle Browning as qualifying all-arounders. This is the first time since 2006 the Sun Devils will be represented at the NCAA Championships.
"We did very well as a team, even though the scores may not reflect that," said Atkinson. "We went six-for-six on bars and beam, which I don't think we have all season. I think we can hold our heads high coming out of this meet."
Atkinson tallied 39.075 to place seventh overall in the all-around competition. She was the team's leading scorer on vault, bars and floor as she earned 9.825 on each. Additionally, she scored 9.6 on beam. This will be Atkinson, who earned All-Pac-10 honors in the all-around, first time to the NCAA Championships.
"It feels great," said Atkinson on qualifying for the NCAA Championships. "It was questionable for a bit there, because of beam, but I snuck in there."
The Sun Devils began the meet on bars, where they scored a solid 48.675 on the event. As aforementioned, Atkinson led the team with a 9.825. Sophomore Kahoku Palafox put up the Sun Devils' next highest score with a 9.775. Francesca Mercurio and Kaitlynn Bormann tied with marks of 9.7 apiece. Freshman Nickie Johnson earned 9.675 on the first apparatus of the night.
The team moved over to beam, which has been the Achilles Heel for the team this season. Although shaky, the team stayed on to earn a score of 48.225. Senior Bormann led the team off with a 9.75. Sophomore Madison Snowden was ASU's next highest scorer after recording a 9.675. In only her second meet back from a toe injury, sophomore Christina Salavec scored 9.625 to be the Sun Devils' third-highest scorer. Atkinson tallied 9.6 while Palafox finished her night with a 9.575.
Floor continued to be the Sun Devils' strongest event as the team tallied 48.7. Atkinson scored 9.825 to place 10th. In her first time back in the official lineup since early January, Amanda Davies left the best for last as she scored a career-best 9.775. Madison Snowden continued to shine on floor with a 9.8. The Sun Devils also counted scores of 9.625 from Stephanie Hangartner and 9.675 from Brittany Schuett.
The team ended the night on vault, which was the only event they were forced to count a true miss. Atkinson punched her ticket to Nationals with a 9.825. Johnson was ended her night with a solid 9.8 while Callie Price remained one of the team's most consistent vaults with a 9.75. Bormann finished her gymnastics career scoring a 9.7. The team also counted Carly McMahon's 9.225.
Atkinson will head to the NCAA Championships in Gainesville, Fla., which will be held April 22-24.