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Gym Devils host UCLA for Olympic night

January 27, 2009

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This Week --
The Arizona State women's gymnastics team heads home for their Gold Game against UCLA. Fans also have a chance to meet some of Arizona State's Olympians, including Jackie Johnson and Mark Bradshaw. 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.

Olympic Night --
In attendance on Friday will be a few of the Arizona State Olympians, including 2008 Olympian Jackie Johnson (track and field) and 1988 Olympian Mark Bradshaw (diving). An autograph session for the Olympians will be held prior to the meet from 7:00-7:30. They will be also be honored during the meet.

Gold Game --
Friday's meet marks the season's gold game. Be sure to wear your favorite gold ASU shirt or sweatshirt. Those who are wearing gold will get a discounted admission of $3 to the meet.The Gym Devils will also be available for a post-meet autograph session.

Improvement All-Around --
* 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.
* The Sun Devils earned a 48.9 on floor at Stanford, their second meet of the season. That mark was not earned until the fifth meet of the season in 2008.

ASU In The Rankings --
The Sun Devils stayed on pat in team rankings this week, maintaining the No. 16 spot. With a season-high 48.9 on beam, the Sun Devils, a historically stellar beam team, remained in the top 10 in the event nationally at ninth. On bars, the Sun Devils dropped to 20th and were 18th on vault. Nicole Harris ranked just out of the top 10 in all around at 11th and is tied for 20th on beam.

Scouting the Competition --
The Bruins are currently third in the nation. They are fourth on floor, fifth on beam, fifth on bars and first on vault. Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs is ranked 19th in the all-around and sixth on beam. Mizuki Sato is ninth on floor. Aisha Gerber is tied for first on beam. Brittani McCullough and Vanessa Zamarripa are both tied for 10th on bars while Arianna Berlin is 16th in the event. Zamarripa is first on vault while McCullough is fifth and Gerber, 16th.

UCLA Connection --
Current assistant coach Jamie Dantzscher competed for UCLA in the early 2000s. Dantzscher, a four-time individual national champion, led the team to three national team championships during her four-year career.

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 on beam against Missouri.

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. Mercurio competed in the all-around for the first time last week.

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 followed that performance up with a 9.775 on beam at Stanford. She is averaging just over a 9.8.

Keepin' Up with Jones ---
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. Last week Jones earned a new career-best on beam with a 9.8 and tied her career-high on floor of 9.825.

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 two weeks ago. 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 11th in the all-around and 20th on beam. Last week, Harris was the team leader in all four events.