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Gym Devils head to Mizzou for last season meet

March 19, 2008

This Week --
The No. 23 Gym Devils end the regular season at No. 16 Missouri. The Sun Devils are coming off their highest score of the season, 196.175. The Sun Devils, under 29th-year head coach John Spini, return six gymnasts to the squad. Although young, the Sun Devils look to compete in their 27th consecutive regional and make the NCAA Championships. Spini is currently ASU's longest-tenured head coach, and is second on the all-time Sun Devil head coaching list. Former Sun Devil women's tennis coaching legend Anne Pittman holds the distinction as the longest-tenured ASU head coach at 31 seasons. Spini's regular-season record is now 323-139-2. His won-loss record at home is 173-42-1.

Scouting The Competition --
Missouri is currently ranked 16th nationally. The Tigers are 21 on floor, 17 on beam, 23 on bars and 18 on vault. All-arounder Adrianne Perry is currently ranked 17th.

ASU In The Rankings --
The Sun Devils are currently ranked 23rd nationally. The Gym Devils are ranked 25th on floor, 18th on beam and 25th on vault.

Fabulous Fans --
The Gym Devils' home meets have averaged 1,168 fans a meet this season. The Sun Devils home opener against Utah produced 1,931 fans, the third highest in Sun Devil gymnastics history. Against Arizona, 1,929 fans came out to mark the fourth highest crowd since 1996.

ASU Faces Nation's Finest --
The Sun Devils will face nine of the top-ranked programs in the country, four of which are in the top ten and four in the Pac-10 Conference, according to the preseason coaches poll. The Sun Devils have already competed against No. 4 UCLA, No. 11 Oregon State and No. 7 Nebraska. The Sun Devils hosted No. 3 Utah in their home opener and have hosted No. 11 Oregon State and No. 12 Arizona. Preseason No. 5 Stanford, No. 13 Penn State and No. 20 Ohio State have already visited Tempe this season. The Sun Devils travel to No. 16 Missouri this weekend.

Pac-10 Honored
The Sun Devils have had several Pac-10 weekly honors this season. Ashlee Hinkle was named Pac-10 Event Specialist of the Week for the week of February 4th. Last week the Sun Devils swept the weekly awards, with Francesca Mercurio earning Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week and Tia Orlando being named Pac-10 Event Specialist of the Week.

Hittin' Hinkle --
Ashlee Hinkle has had a phenomenal junior campaign. The Glendale, Ariz., native has been one of the team's top scorers in her three events. Hinkle has yet to record a fall this season, going 30-30 in competition. Hinkle scored a team-high and career-high 9.95 on vault last week. This score is the highest score by a Sun Devil on any apparatus this season. The junior also had a career-best 9.875 on floor against Oregon State. The junior is averaging over a 9.8 on vault and beam.

Fantastic Fran ---
Francesca Mercurio has had an extremely successful freshman campaign. The San Mateo, Calif., was honored for her accomplishments this past week by the Pac-10. Mercurio became the tenth Sun Devil to be named Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week. Mercurio earned the honor by winning her first all-around competition last week against Ohio State. Mercurio ellipsed 39 for the first time and scored a career-best 39.250 in the event. She also had career-high marks on vault (9.875), beam (9.825) and floor (9.750).

Outstanding Orlando--
Tia Orlando, who has come back strong after suffering a torn ACL last season, was named Pac-10 Event Specialist of the Week. She is the second Devil to receive the award this season. The Philly native has been primarily competing in two events this season and tried her hand in a third last week. The result was a success. Orlando had the best meet of her career against Ohio State as she hit two of her career bests and set a new one. Orlando placed first on bars by matching her career-high of 9.850. Orlando placed second on beam with a career-best 9.875. The highlight of the Orlando's night was her return to floor where she tied for first with a career-best 9.875. This was the first time Orlando has competed on floor since her freshman season.

All Around Tiana--
Junior Tiana Jean earned her first all-around victory at Washington, scoring a 38.825. The Puyallup, Wash., native earned her best all-around score of 39.225 last week against Ohio State. Jean had career-highs on vault (9.750) and floor (9.875) against Oregon State. Against Arizona, Jean tied her career-best bars with a 9.875. In last week's tri-meet, the junior had a career-high 9.9 on beam. This is Tiana's first 9.9 score in any apparatus of her career. She tied that score the next week against Ohio State to win the event.

Keeping Up with the Jones' ---
Beaté Jones has proven to be a powerful force on vault and floor for the Sun Devils this season, as well as a solid all-arounder. Last week, Jones stuck a beautiful landing on vault to earn her first career 9.9. The powerful freshman also tied her career-high on floor for the third time, earning a 9.825. Jones also had career-best on beam (9.750) and in the all-around (39.075).