The ASU gymnastics team fell to UA Sunday afternoon by a score of 195.675-194.900, but it showed progress that pleased coach John Spini.
“I think physically we are in great shape,” John Spini said. “But we are really working mentally to try to stay focused.”
The Sun Devils (1-4) topped their season-high team tally by more than two full points in the losing effort.
“We are improving but we want to win,” Spini said. “There’s nothing like winning, especially against your rival.”
ASU junior Mary Atkinson saw improvement as well.
“We did a lot better as a team,” Atkinson said. “Our score, which is what really counts for qualifying us for Regionals, was much higher. It was kind of in the range of where we want it to be.”
ASU began the meet on a roll with three career-bests on the vault.
“It was a big plus for us to get our freshman Amelia Rew out there and for her to stand up a vault,” Spini said. “She has come in at semester and gotten better every meet.”
The team then moved to the uneven bars, where three Sun Devils stuck their landings.
At the completion of two rotations, ASU trailed UA by just 0.025 points.
The third rotation proved to be the deciding factor.
“Both of our starters from last year, [senior] Kaitlynn [Bormann] and [junior Francesca Mercurio], had trouble on beam,” Spini said. “Those are the kids we need to bring the experience.”
After ASU was forced to count Bormann’s routine that included a fall, the Wildcats began to pull away with a 146.675-146.075 lead heading into the final event.
“We need to become a four-event team and not have just two great events in vault and bars,” Atkinson said. “We had a couple errors on beam and were forced to try to catch up on floor.”
In the end, the Sun Devils just couldn’t close the gap.
“The routines I saw today weren’t as crisp as I’ve seen in practice,” Spini said. “But you can tell that’s just from getting out there and having a little nerves.”
Atkinson was again the Sun Devils’ top performer, as she tied for first in the all-around with a career-best total of 39.450.
“I was pretty happy with my vault and bars,” Atkinson said. “It was the first time I’ve ever made a beam routine in competition. Beam has never been my strong event, so just to stay on and get the jitters out was good.”
Atkinson won the vault and uneven bars events with career-high scores of 9.900 and 9.950, respectively.
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