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No. 20 Sun Devils host No. 3 Utah in home opener

January 23, 2008

This Week --
The Arizona State women's gymnastics team opens its home slate against the No. 3 ranked Utah Utes this Friday Jan. 25 at Wells Fargo Arena. The meet begins at 7:30 p.m. Long-time rivals, the Sun Devils are 17-57-1 against the Utah, with a 7-7-1 record at home against the Utes. The Sun Devils, under 29th-year head coach John Spini, return five 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 320-132-2. His won-loss record at home is 171-35-1.

Promotions for the Week --
Friday marks Sparky's Kid's to College Night. Youth groups from across the Valley will be in attendance to watch the Gym Devils compete against the Utes. Fans will also be able to get autographs from their favorite gymnasts after the meet.

Scouting Utah --
The Utes are currently tied for third nationally with Alabama. Utah is also ranked sixth on floor, second on beam, fourth on bars and third on vault. Individually, Ashley Postell and Kristina Baskett are ranked fifth and 21st in the all-around respectively.

ASU In The Rankings --
The Arizona State women's gymnastics team is currently ranked 20th nationally, moving up three spots from last weekend. The Sun Devils are currently ranked ninth in the country on beam and are 20th on floor. Individually, Nicole Harris is ranked 10th in the all-around and 16th on floor.

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 will open their home slate against long-time rival No. 3 Utah this Friday. They will also host No. 11 Oregon State (Jan 30), No. 12 Arizona (Feb. 15), No. 5 Stanford (Feb 29), No. 13 Penn State (Mar. 7) and No. 20 Ohio State. The Sun Devils also travel to No. 16 Missouri (Mar. 21).

Harris Honored --
Nicole Harris earned her first Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week honor for the week of January 15-21. In her inaugural all-around performance of the season, junior All-American Nicole Harris hit every event to win the all-around with a team season-best score of 39.325. Competing on floor for the first time this season, Harris won the event tying Ashlee Hinkle's team-best score of 9.850. The All-Pac-10 selection from last season also had a season-best mark on bars with a 9.875 and tied for second on beam with a 9.825.

All Around Tiana--
Junior Tiana Jean is competing in the all-around for the first time in her collegiate career. The Pullayup, Wash., native shined last season on bars, beam and floor and has added vault to her event list this season. She tied her career-best in the all-around last week against Cal with a 38.9.

Hinkle, Hinkle Little Star--
Junior Ashlee Hinkle's hard work in the gym has truly paid off as shown at the Lady Luck Invitational this past weekend. The Glendale, Ariz., native had a career-night as she earned a new personal best on vault, a 9.875, to place third overall and tied her career-best floor performance with a 9.850 to place third. The junior also tied for second on beam with a 9.800.

She's Back!--
Tia Orlando, who was sidelined last season due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament, competed in her first meet since the 2006 NCAA Championships. Orlando, who as an Elite won the floor exercise at the 2003 Pan-American Games, has been competing on bars and beam this season. Orlando recorded a career-best 9.825 on bars last week against Cal. The junior from Philadelphia had also scored a career-best 9.8 on beam earlier this season.

Do It All Freshmen ---
Beaté Jones and Francesca Mercurio have both competed in the all-around this season. Jones participated in all four events in the first two meets of the season and has earned a career-best 38.6. Mercurio competed in her inaugural all-around competition last weekend at California and tallied a total score of 38.8 after hitting every event.

Stephanie Hangartner Signs Letter of Intent--
Stephanie Hangartner of Mesa, Ariz., has signed a letter of intent to study and compete at Arizona State starting in fall 2008. Hangartner will join the Sun Devils squad as a potential all-arounder. She was the 2005 State Champion in the all-around and was a Junior Olympic qualifier.

2008 Results --
Lady Luck Invitational (1/4): The Sun Devils finished third at the Lady Luck Invitational. Ashlee Hinkle and Tia Orlando tied for second on beam with scores of 9.800. Orlando's score was a career high. Hinkle tied for third on vault (9.875) and floor (9.850). Hinkle's vault score was a career-high while her floor score tied her personal-best. Beaté Jones earned a 9.800 on vault to place eighth overall. Nicole Harris and Tiana Jean tied for fourth on beam with scores of 9.775. Jean also tied for fourth on bars (9.775) and fifth on floor (9.800).

At Nebraska (1/13): The Sun Devils fell 195.550-193.075 to the No. 7 Huskers. Nicole Harris and Tiana Jean both had season-best scores of 9.800 on bars to place third. Ashlee Hinkle led the Sun Devils on vault with a score of 9.800. Competing on vault for the first time this season, Harris was the second highest scoring Devil with a 9.750. On floor, freshman Beaté Jones had a career-best 9.775 to lead the Sun Devils. Jean and Hinkle were the top scoring Sun Devils on beam with scores of 9.725 apiece. Jean scored a 38.900 in the all-around while Jones compiled a 38.600.

At California (1/20): The Sun Devils defeated No. 22 California with a season-best score of 195.175. In her first all-around competition of the season, Nicole Harris won the all-around with a score of 39.325. Harris also won floor with a 9.85. Ashlee Hinkle won vault with a 9.825 and tied for second on beam with Harris with a 9.825. Harris placed second on bars with a 9.875.