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Gymnastics opens 2009 season at home against Missouri

January 13, 2009

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This Week --
The Arizona State women's gymnastics team will begin their 2009 season hosting Missouri on January 16. This is the first time the Sun Devils will open their season at home since 2004. 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.

Promotions This Week --
Friday's meet marks Sparky's Kids to College Night as well as Staff Appreciation Night. Forms for Sparky's Kids to College and for Staff Appreciation are available on The team will also be available for a post-meet autograph session.

ASU In The Rankings --
The Sun Devils enter the season ranked 24th in the Preseason Coaches Poll. They are not ranked in this week's poll due to the fact they have not competed yet this season.

Scouting the Competition --
The Sun Devils narrowly lost to the Tigers last season in Colombia, Mo. The Tigers enter this season ranked 19th. They return senior Big 12 all-around Champion Adrienne Perry to their squad this season.

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.). These freshmen are expected to make an immediate impact.

Aye Aye Captain--
Tiana Jean will lead the Sun Devils as captain this season. The senior all-arounder 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.

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 ---
Kaitlynn Bormann was a rock last season on beam for the Devils and looks to do the same this season. Hitting 92.3 percent of her beam routines last season, Bormann earned a career-best 9.825 to win the apparatus at the UNO's Flip for the Cure. The junior looks to pick up where she left off in the 2009 season.

Keeping Up with the Jones' ---
Beaté Jones comes back to the Sun Devils after a successful debut season. The explosive vaulter competed in all four events last season, something Coach Spini did not anticipate at the beginning of the season. Jones will look to compete in the all-around again this season and will likely lead-off on bars and anchor vault.

Reinstated ---
Nicole Harris was reinstated in November after leaving the team last season due to personal reasons. The 2006 All-American is expected to provide the Sun Devils with a solid score in the all-around each meet.

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.