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Gym Devils battle Bruins in LA

January 26, 2010


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The Arizona State women's gymnastics team heads to Pauley Pavilion this weekend to compete against Pac-10 powerhouse UCLA. The Sun Devils head to Westwood after earning their best score of the season with a 194.9. The meet begins at 2 p.m., PT on Sunday, Jan. 31. The Gym Devils are currently 1-4 (1-1 Pac-10) and the Bruins are 4-1 (2-1).

Thirty years of Spini
Arizona State University's longest currently tenured coach, John Spini, has entered his 30th year of coaching. In his 30 years at ASU, Spini has sent his Sun Devil teams to 20 NCAA Championships and has had at least one Sun Devil represent ASU at the NCAA Championships 24 out of 28 seasons. He has coached 26 All-Americans for a total of 80 All-American accolades. Six women have won individual NCAA titles under Spini. Additionally, nine of Spini's Sun Devil squads have finished in the top five at the NCAA Championships, including four teams (1983, 1985, 1986, 1997) who were runner-up. The Sun Devils have qualified for an NCAA regional each of the seasons Spini has been the ASU gymnastics skipper. 

Scouting the competition
UCLA is currently ranked seventh overall, fourth on vault, first on bars, seventh on beam, and 20th on floor. Individually, three Bruins are ranked nationally in the all-around with Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs ranked third, Anna Li right behind her at fourth and Vanessa Zamarripa at 11th. Zamarripa and Tauny Frattone are both ranked on vault, sitting at sixth and 18th respectively. Li is currently the nation's top barworker while Zamarripa is third and Monique De La Torre is 12th. Zamarripa is also seventh on beam with Hopfner-Hibbs at 11th, Li at 12th and Marci Bernholtz coming in at 20th. On floor, two Bruins are in the top 25 with Hopfner-Hibbs leading the nation in the event and Brittani McCullough at 10th. 

Miss Mary
Mary Atkinson showed the gymnastics world what she is made of as she tied for first in the all-around, shattering her previous career-best by tallying a 39.450. She crushed her all-time best on bars after performing a near perfect routine of 9.950. Atkinson also shined on vault with a career-best of 9.9 and tallied yet another personal high score of 9.775 on beam. She is currently ranked 13th on vault and 10th on bars.

New kids on the block
The Gym Devils 2010 roster is full of new additions to the team. Three freshmen look to make an immediate impact as will at least one transfer.Nickie Johnson and Christina Salavec are both training in the all around. Amelia Rew, who just came to the team this month, is looking to be in the vault and potentially beam lineups. Freshman walk-on Jordyn McIntyre is working hard for a spot on the bars lineup. Another newcomer who will contribute significantly this season for the Gym Devils is sophomore transfer Amanda Davies who has been steady in the team's intrasquads this preseason. Carly McMahon could also make appearances in the beam lineups. 

We're cuckoo for Kahoku
Kahoku Palafox has emerged into quite the gymnast for the Gym Devils. Palafox, who has been a starter on bars since her first meet of her freshman season, nailed her bar routine last week against Arizona to tie for second with a career-best 9.9. She has also been in the beam lineup for the Gym Devils every meet this season and earned a career-best 9.775 to help lead the team to its best score of the season. 

Shining senior
After two years of being one of the team's top beam and bar-workers, Kaitlynn Bormann could be in the vault lineup this season. Despite not competing it since her freshman season, Bormann topped her previous career-high on vault by nailing it for a 9.8. She tied that score last week against Arizona. She also earned a team-high 9.825 on beam. 

Super frosh
Three of the Gym Devils freshmen were given spots in the lineup over the weekend. Nickie Johnson competed on three events (Vault, Bars, Floor) at both meets while Christina Salavec performed on floor and beam. Amelia Rew also competed on vault. On floor Johnson earned a solid 9.825, the team's second highest score of the season, at Cal while Salavec has the team's second-highest beam score with a 9.775. Salavec tied her career-best scores on both floor and beam against Arizona while Johnson put up a 9.825 on bars. 

Clever Devils
Brittany Schuett had the highest grade point average in the conference last season with a 4.04 in speech and hearing. For her achievements in the classroom, she was named to the Pac-10 All-Academic First-Team. Mary Atkinson earned Second-Team recognition from the conference. Both Atkinson and freshman Amelia Rew are both members of the prestigious Barrett Honors College here at ASU and are bioscience majors. 

Re-introducing Kari Ward
Former ASU gymnast Kari Ward has joined the Sun Devils' staff as an assistant coach this season. Ward was a standout gymnast for the Sun Devils during 2002-2005. She was a three-time Pac-10 All-Academic First-Team selection. Her main responsibilities will floor and beam, two events she excelled in as a gymnast. 

Jones out
Beate Jones, who was the Sun Devils' top all-arounder last season, is out indefinitely with a Lisfranc injury that occurred during preseason. Jones achieved career-highs last season on V (9.925), UB (9.825), BB (9.9), FX (9.9) and in the all-around (39.4). 

Socialize with the Devils!
Be sure to follow the Arizona State Gymnastics team on Facebook and Twitter! Links to both are on Inside information, trivia questions and videos are featured on the fan sites. 

Next up
The Gym Devils will host long-time rival and NCAA powerhouse Utah at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 5 at Wells Fargo Arena.