TEMPE, Ariz.- The Arizona State gymnastics team opened its 2013 season with a 196.7-193.625 defeat to No. 4 Oklahoma Saturday, with some big performances from its new faces.
“I am so proud of the freshmen,” ASU coach John Spini said. “Our biggest issue was when we lost three starters (injured Natelle Gentile, Samantha Seaman and Morgan Steigerwalt). I thought we did better than what some of the results showed.”
In her first meet, Carissa Kraus vaulted a 9.8 and tied upperclassmen Kahoku Palafox and Amelia Rew for the ASU-high on the uneven bars at 9.625. Freshman Stephanie Miceli scored a 9.75 on beam and 9.05 on floor, and Erin Hamister and Allie Salas vaulted scores of 9.775 and 9.7.
Oklahoma’s Erica Brewer led all scorers with a 9.925 on the beam and also had a high-tying 9.825 on the bars. Madison Mooring was a high 9.9 on the vault, and also posted a 9.85 on the floor. Taylor Spears recorded a high score of 9.875 on the floor, while Brie Olson scored a 9.9 on beam, 9.825 on bars and 9.85 on floor.
“They are very impressive I thought,” Spini said of the Sooners. “I thought their beam was impressive (49.275). They’re just clean and they hit. It’s subjective judging and being ranked really helps. We’ve got to get back there.”
ASU’s best event was also the beam (48.65). The floor was 48.525, vault 48.55 and bars were 47.9. The Sooners had combined scores of 49.25 on vault, 49.225 on floor and 48.95 on bars.
The high score for ASU on the day was Natasha Sundby’s career high vault of 9.875.
“Natasha’s vault was huge for us,” Spini said, “being she didn’t compete on vault for us last year- freshman year- she started for us on beam, her biggest problem was the dismount.”
Sundby also hit a 9.5 on the floor.
“I’m really excited, but I know I can only go up from here,” Sundby said.
Brianna Gades also scored a 9.825 on both the balance beam and foor for ASU. Risa Perez, a 4-foot-11 freshman from Las Vegas, tied Gades with a team-high on the floor.
“I’ve been waiting for it for so long coming out of club, and it went by really fast, it was exhilarating,” Gades said of her first meet. “We can’t control the scores, but we can do what we do best.”
Following a trip to Sacramento for a dual meet with Sacramento State and San Jose State Jan. 18, the Gym Devils return home at 7 p.m. Jan. 25 versus No. 2 UCLA. ASU, SJSU and Sacramento State are all in the also receiving votes category for the national rankings, Alabama is No. 1 and Arizona is No. 19.
“It’s going to be so exciting,” Perez said. “My teams have always traveled, but in college, we’re all on the same plane, wearing the same things.”