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Women's gymnastics heads to Tucson for Pac-10 Championships

March 22, 2010

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The No. 29 Arizona State University women's gymnastics team heads down the I-10 to Tucson for the Pacific-10 Championships this weekend. Held on Saturday March 27 at 4 p.m., the 2010 Pac-10 Championships are being hosted by Arizona.

Gym Devils in the rankings
Despite improving their Regional Qualifying Score, the Sun Devils are out of the top 25 and are currently ranked 29th. They are ranked 23rd on vault, 25th on bars and 17th on floor. Marty Atkinson is currently 20th in the all-around and is ranked 23rd on vault.

30yYears of Spini
Arizona State University's longest currently tenured coach, John Spini, has entered his 30th year of coaching. In his 30 years at ASU, Spini has sent his Sun Devil teams to 20 NCAA Championships and has had at least one Sun Devil represent ASU at the NCAA Championships 24 out of 28 seasons. He has coached 26 All-Americans for a total of 80 All-American accolades. Six women have won individual NCAA titles under Spini. Additionally, nine of Spini's Sun Devil squads have finished in the top five at the NCAA Championships, including four teams (1983, 1985, 1986, 1997) who were runner-up. The Sun Devils have qualified for an NCAA regional each of the seasons Spini has been the ASU gymnastics skipper.

Last season's Pac-10 Championships
The Sun Devils placed sixth at the Pac-10 Championships. Nicole Harris earned a 9.9 on beam to tie for second and earn Pac-10 First-Team honors on the apparatus. Then-sophomore Beate Jones earned All-Pac-10 accolades in the all-around.

Miss Mary
Atkinson has emerged into one of the nation's top all-arounders this season. Against Utah, the junior combined a career-best 39.5 thanks to three career-highs on vault (9.9), beam (9.8) and floor (9.9). She has been incredibly consistent on vault this season as she has scored her career-high of 9.9 four times this season. Bars and floor have also been strong events for Atkinson as she has garnered team-high 9.95 on bars and has been the team's top floorworker this season. She has been consistently improving on beam this season and is the team's anchor in the event. In all, Atkinson has won the all-around four times, floor six times, vault five times and bars twice this season.

Leaving it all on the floor
The Gym Devils have been ranked as high as 12th nationally on floor after achieving a season-best 49.275 against Stanford. Atkinson's elegant routine has garnered several high scores (including a career-best 9.9) while the crowd cannot help but dance along to Nickie Johnson's Lady Gaga routine, in which she has delivered a 9.9. Madison Snowden has wowed the crowd each week, including against Stanford and Central Michigan when she delivered a personal-best 9.9.

We're cuckoo for Kahoku
Kahoku Palafox has emerged into quite the gymnast for the Gym Devils. Palafox, who has been a starter on bars since her first meet of her freshman season, nailed her bar routine against Arizona to tie for second with a career-best 9.9. Palafox has also been a strong beamworker for the Sun Devils. In ASU's final home meet of the season, Palafox garnered a career-high score of 9.85 on beam as well as a 9.85 on bars.

Hey Nickie
Freshman Nicole Johnson made her first appearance in the all-around last week. The native of Indianapolis has been in lineup each week for bars and floor and has recently came back to the vault lineup. One of the team's top floor-workers, she has tallied a score of 9.9. Johnson has also earned career-highs of 9.85 and 9.825 on vault and bars respectively. She earned a 9.725 on beam in an exhibition earlier in the season.

Injury update
Beate Jones, who was the Sun Devils' top all-arounder last season, is out indefinitely with a Lisfranc injury that occurred during preseason. Jones achieved career-highs last season on V (9.925), UB (9.825), BB (9.9), FX (9.9) and in the all-around (39.4). Freshman Christina Salavec, who has been one of the team's most consistent performers this season, has been out with a minor toe injury.

Socialize with the Devils
Be sure to follow the Arizona State Gymnastics team on Facebook and Twitter. Links to both are on Inside information, trivia questions and videos are featured on the fan sites.

Next up
The team awaits regional seeding to determine where they are heading for the NCAA Regional.