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Gym Devils head to Stanford for Pac-10 opener

January 21, 2009

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This Week --
After a narrow loss to Missouri, the No. 16 Arizona State women's gymnastics team looks to rebound on the road at No. 7 Stanford. The meet begins at 7 p.m. PT on Thursday, January 22. Head Coach John 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.

A Few Quick Hits --
* The Sun Devils scored a 48.825 on vault in their first meet. Last season, the team didn't achieve over that until January 25 against Utah.
* The Sun Devils bar score of 48.925 would have been its second-highest bar team score last season. The Sun Devils did not hit over a 48.925 until February 15 against Arizona last season.
* On beam, the Sun Devils posted a 48.850, which in 2008 was not achieved until their third meet of the season.
* Last season, no one scored a 9.9 on beam until Tiana Jean did in early March. Jean was able to tie her career-high in the first meet of her senior season.
* Last season Ashlee Hinkle earned a 9.9 on vault during the team's fourth meet. Beaté Jones was able to accomplish the feat at the first meet of this season.

ASU In The Rankings --
The Sun Devils moved up eight spots and are now ranked 16th nationally. On vault, the team is 15th. The Sun Devils are in the top 10 nationally on both bars (seventh) and beam (ninth). Individually, Tiana Jean is ranked in three events (24th AA, 14th UB, 4th BB), Nicole Harris in two (7th AA, 14th UB), Beaté Jones in one (5th V) and Kaitlynn Bormann in one (15th BB).

Scouting the Competition --
Stanford is currently ranked seventh nationally. The Cardinal are averaging 196.025, with a high score of 196.450. Stanford is 14th on floor, fourth on beam, second on bars and 12th on vault. Individually Nicole Ourada is ranked sixth on beam and teammates Carly Janiga and Heather Purnell are tied for 15th on beam. Janiga is also fifth nationally on bars while Ourada is 14th. Shelley Alexander is 20th on vault.

Welcome Freshmen --
The 2009 roster boasts seven freshmen. ASU welcomes Nicole Ferrandino (East Norwich, N.Y.), Ellen Gebhardt (Carol Stream, Ill.), Amber Hammerschmidt (Rosemount, Minn.), Stephanie Hangartner (Chandler, Ariz.), Kahoku Palafox (Kailua, Hawaii), Callie Price (Mesa, Ariz.) and Kelly Reilly (Phoenix, Ariz.). Hammerschmidt was in last week's beam lineup while Hangartner led the Sun Devils off on floor. Palafox scored a solid 9.750 in her first routine as a Sun Devil. The vault lineup included two freshmen as both Callie Price and Kelly Reilly competed.

Aye Aye Captain--
Jean will lead the Sun Devils as captain this season. The senior was honored by the Pac-10 last season for her consistent performance in the all-around. Jean, who earned a career-best of 39.225 in the all-around last season, either raised or tied her career-high in every event last season. Jean tallied career-highs of 9.750 on vault, 9.875 on bars, 9.9 on beam and 9.875 on floor. The Washington native tied her career-best of 9.9 last week on beam and is now ranked fourth nationally. Jean is also 24th in the all-around.

Fantastic Fran ---
Francesca Mercurio enters her sophomore season after a fabulous freshman one. Mercurio became the tenth Sun Devil to be named Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week. Mercurio earned the honor by earning her first all-around win against Ohio State. Mercurio finished her freshman campaign with career-high marks of 39.250 in the all-around, 9.875 on vault, 9.825 on bars and beam, and 9.750 on floor.

Beaming Bormann ---
One of the Sun Devils most consistent beam-workers, Kaitlynn Bormann, showcased her skills at last Friday's meet. The New Yorker hit every series and stuck her dismount to earn a career-best 9.850 on the apparatus. Bormann, who has been plagued in the offseason with ankle issues, is currently tied for 15th nationally on beam.

Vaulting her Way to the Top ---
Jones, whom Coach Spini regards as one of the nation's top vaulters, successfully anchored the team's first rotation. The Jersey girl nailed her vault, tying her career-high with a 9.9. Her score ranks her at fifth nationally.

Back in Action ---
Nicole Harris was reinstated in November after leaving the team last season due to personal reasons. The passionate all-arounder was crucial in lifting the team's ranking from 24th to 16th with her well-rounded all-around performance last week. Harris tied for first on both bars and floor. The New Yorker also put in solid marks on bars and beam. Harris is currently ranked seventh in the all-around and 14th on bars.

Out for the Season ---
The Sun Devils lost two gymnasts for the season before the year even began. Due to non-gymnastics-related injuries, the Sun Devils will be without the services of senior Ashlee Hinkle and transfer Madison Snowden for the year. Snowden is expected to compete next season while Hinkle has retired from gymnastics and moved to an undergraduate assistant coach position.

New Staff ---
2009 welcomes two new assistant coaches. Jean-Luc Cairon and Jamie Dantzscher have both joined the Sun Devil gymnastics staff. Maggie Ethier will remain on staff as a volunteer coach.

Cairon comes to ASU after being one of the country's top club coaches. A native of Forbach, France, Cairon has been involved in gymnastics since he was seven years old. He was a member of the French Olympic team for the 1984 and 1988 Summer Olympic Games and holds three national titles (1983, 1984, 1987). Cairon has been a co-owner and coach at Krafft Academy in Tulsa, Oklahoma since 1990. Cairon owns a degree in accounting from Forbach University and a first and secondary degree in physical education from French Ministry of Athletics in Antibes.

Dantzscher comes to Tempe with an impressive gymnastics resume. After competing in the 2000 Olympic Games as a member of Team USA, Dantzscher moved on to have a stellar career at UCLA. Dantzscher was a four-time individual NCAA National Champion while at UCLA and helped lead the Bruins to three NCAA Championships in four years. Dantzscher won the all-around, vault and floor at NCAAs in her sophomore season at UCLA and was the 2003 co-bars champion. She holds the NCAA record of 28 perfect 10s and is the first and only gymnast to have scored a 10.0 in her first-ever collegiate routine. She also has seven years experience of working in club gymnastics.